We are told that Christmas is giving. Giving to the poor, to the less fortunate, to the weak. No-one ever wanted to be born in a poor family. Poverty is around us.
During charitable events, we give out money, we give out compassion. Compassion is important. But true compassion is an action, not just a word. Our own human compassion today is itself being undermined by the many discriminations, restrictions and exclusions of poor people from accessing their rights. These cultural and political man-made difficulties make poor peoples’ lives harder. They also turn into propaganda that make us forget that the poor are equal human beings.
According to the latest data, nearly 700 million people on the planet live in conditions of extreme poverty, spending less than $2.15 a day. Shockingly, as per the International Labor Organization, a staggering 53% of the world’s population lacks access to comprehensive social protection. These alarming figures lead us to the conclusion that decades of efforts to reduce poverty globally have not yielded sufficiently positive results. Additionally, military conflicts and the pandemic have exacerbated living conditions for many people worldwide. This has raised concerns about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the first and most crucial one: a world free from poverty!
Did you know that during the last decade, billionaires have made unimaginable, record-breaking fortunes? Today, every dimension of inequality – across wealth, income, gender and race – is rising around the world. Every year, the gap between rich and the rest of us widens.
However, no one can do it all alone. The path to poverty eradication requires collaborative efforts. To realize the vision of sustainable development – a world without poverty, Governments must unite and work on inclusive policies and strategies that not only promote decent work and social protection. This must be framed within an environment where everyone gets an opportunity, without exception. Only then can we effectively measure progress and, through the application of appropriate programmes and policies, collectively address this global challenge.
Urgent action is needed to address the present situation that sees so many waged workers working hard but trapped in poverty. For jobs to deliver greater shared prosperity:
1. Governments need to move minimum wages towards a living wage for all workers. They should tie aid and public procurement contracts to companies providing good quality jobs, as well as tackling illegal forced labour in workplaces.
2. Companies should pay their employees a living wage and publish the pay ratio between them and top executives. They should do more to ensure that workers in their supply chain are paid a living wage, collaborate with others and publish their progress.
3. Workers should be trained on their rights and be placed at the centre of initiatives to improve the quality of their jobs.
4. Consumers should ask companies what they are doing to ensure secure employment is provided on a living wage and that women get equal pay and a chance to progress.
You can do your part. Your compassion is not enough.