Speaking of poverty, differently
From a video by a UN Special Rapporteur
Professor Olivier De Schutter was appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights by the UN Human Rights Council on 1st May 2020. He has produced a 3 minute video on systemic poverty and what needs to change.
Poverty has often been pictured as attributable to the individual who made the wrong choices in life, who is not fit for the world of work, who failed to see the opportunities and who does not deserve help. This presupposes that society norms are a fact of nature, a given that we cannot change.
As a consequence, individuals are left in poverty, feeling shame and and becoming invisible in society. It legitimizes discrimination and institutional abuse against those who experience poverty. It creates a 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor.
Poverty is really not a failure of the individual. We should see it instead as a failure of society. A society that fails to recognize the competence of people in poverty. A society that relies on a unhealthy conception of merit. A society that does not ensure inclusion but instead creates exclusion.
To combat poverty we should not shame or penalize people in poverty. We should instead create an economy that is truly inclusive, recognizing the potential of each individual. Building on the inventiveness of people in poverty and their multiple skills. On the social innovations that they imagine. On the solidarity networks they develop.
An economy in which each person is not considered a passive recipient of support but an actor co-constructing solutions.
Watch the 3 minute video here:
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