Statement on the occasion of the First World Day of the Poor
Yesterday, Sunday 19 November, Christian communities commemorated the first World Day of the Poor. Named by Pope Francis, he is calling on everybody to show solidarity with people in need “If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalisation”.
Caritas Europa reiterates this call and demands that European countries and their leaders take more seriously their commitment to end poverty, as agreed in the Agenda 2030. It is high time that they put in place appropriate social protection systems and measures that cover everybody, especially the most vulnerable, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1: End poverty. Today, the scars of the economic crisis and the ensuing austerity measures are still very visible: wages are under pressure and the number of working poor is increasing. Many continue to suffer from unjust and unfair structures that we must change.
Employment is a way out of poverty, but only if there are jobs for everybody and at a decent wage. As described by a Caritas Portugal service user: “I am 25 years old and I’ve been working for 10 years in precarious jobs. I started to work with the intention to help my mother and to continue my studies for the university. Currently, I have a contract within an employment measure from a Municipality but, for me, this is almost the same as being unemployed. My wage is 419€ and I have three years of graduation studies, dozens of trainings, one year of migration in another country and 10 years of struggle.”
However, employment alone will not eradicate poverty. We also need better welfare systems and family oriented policies. Our political leaders already have at hand the necessary tools if only they would fulfil their pledges and implement the available legal instruments and financial resources, such as the Revised European Social Charter and its monitoring mechanisms.
Pope Francis is right: “Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money. What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalised indifference!” Let us join Him in fighting poverty and indifference to ensure a dignified life for all.
Notes to editor:
A sustainable and efficient welfare models for Caritas is based on three main pillars: family and community, inclusive labour markets and adequate social protection systems.
Read more in our report Social Justice and Equality in Europe is possible.
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