Let’s Eradicate Extreme Poverty Together


October 17th is the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, and it’s been celebrated since 1987 when thousands of participants gathered at the Human Rights Plaza in Paris. The call came from Joseph Wresinski to meet at the spot where the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.

The day was then officially recognized by the United Nations in 1992.

The declaration engraved on the Commemorative Stone unveiled that day recognizes the dire and unacceptable situation faced by people experiencing extreme poverty, violence and hunger around the world. It proclaims that extreme poverty is a violation of human rights and affirms the need for all people to unite to ensure that these rights are respected.

People living in extreme poverty are active defenders of human rights, and the World Day recognizes their daily commitments, undertaken with others, to defend and respect the dignity of every person. The World Day demonstrates that change is possible through the new and enduring meeting opportunities it creates, and the new responsibilities and commitments for eradicating poverty that such meetings encourage and generate.

It’s a day for those living in extreme poverty to speak out and have their say. It’s also a day for those who care — any citizen with a heart and a conscience — to consider what they can do to help eradicate extreme poverty.

That might seem like a daunting task for each of us. After all, how can one person make a difference?

But one person can be the impetus for change, and together we can make a huge impact.

The October 17th message is:
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.” (F. Joseph Wresinski).

Extreme poverty kills more children and adults than any war. And even for survivors, it doesn’t just destroy their lives… it destroys their spirits. Every day, people living in extreme poverty face the challenges and life-and-death realities of lack of food, lack of shelter, and lack of essential services.

Helping people overcome extreme poverty is the starting point to helping them become self-reliant and generate their own prosperity. There are many ways you can get involved to show your support this year.

Find an October 17 event near you on


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