This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty focuses on decent work, meaningful employment, income-generating livelihoods. In a word: jobs.
Decent and productive work is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and build self-sufficiency.
Yet today, more than half the world’s working population is in vulnerable employment. They lack formal work arrangements and social security, and often earn too little to provide for their families, let alone climb the ladder of economic opportunity. The global economic crisis has further pushed an estimated 64 million into poverty and unemployment is up by more than 30 million since 2007.
How can we bridge the gap from poverty to decent work? By investing in economic and social policies that foster job creation; promoting decent labour conditions and deepening social protection systems. Access to education, public health and job training is also essential.
We must also put a special emphasis on youth employment. Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Last year, more than 81 million young people were unemployed, the highest on record. One of the best ways for youth to see a future of hope is through the prism of a decent job.
Last month at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York, world leaders agreed on an action agenda to intensify the global poverty fight. Despite encouraging advances in many corners of the globe, hundreds of millions of people still live in appalling conditions, lacking even the most basic services. Addressing the global jobs crisis is central to changing this picture – to defeating poverty, strengthening economies and building peaceful and stable societies.
Widespread economic uncertainty and fiscal austerity should not be excuses to do less. Rather, they are reasons to do more.
On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us hear the voices of the poor and strive to expand job opportunities and safe working conditions everywhere.
Let us work for a world of decent work for all.