On International Day For The Eradication Of Poverty, Here's What I'll Be Considering

Since 1993, the United Nations has observed International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17. The day, organized in partnership with the International Movement ATD Fourth World, explicitly recognizes the conditions of the world's most poverty-stricken, and reaffirms the world's commitment to ending inequality.

The 2014 theme — Leave No One Behind — comes at an apt time, given the rapid-fire spread of Ebola in some of the most impoverished countries in the world. In UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement on 2014's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, he writes:

On this day we recommit to think, decide and act together against extreme poverty -- and plan for a world where no-one is left behind.
We have reached the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living in poverty ahead of time. At least 700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010.Despite this enormous success, one in every five persons in developing regions -- 1.22 billion people -- live on less than $1.25 a day, and 2.4 billion live on less than $2 a day. Since the beginning of the financial crisis, inequality has grown even more pronounced than it was already. Discrimination against women and girls remains a blatant injustice, robbing the entire development enterprise of one of the keys to progress.

So what will you do this year? Donate finances to international organizations like Plan International, or domestic organizations like National Coalition for the Homeless? Will you volunteer by serving food or building houses? Will you use our social media platforms to raise awareness like these sample tweets from Overcoming Poverty?

Today, I'm thinking about what Sir Bob Geldof said in The Telegraph about Ebola and the Western disinterest in the impoverished developing world. His confronting statement that "In West Africa they are dying of poverty" has challenged me to think about the way we talk about Ebola and the identities of people dying from it. His theory on why many (not all) Westerners are less interested in the plight of Western Africans:

Why? Because they've no money. They are dying of poverty again. And we paid no interest. Why? Because we really don't pay much interest in the poor.

We are terrified of its spread to the USA, the U.K., and Australia — countries where an Ebola outbreak is highly unlikely thanks to sophisticated medical systems and ample resources — but it somehow feels less surprising in West Africa. On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I'm thinking about it.

I'm also thinking about FocusE15, a group of homeless young single mothers in London. Jasmin Stone, one of the mothers, wrote in The Guardian:

My daughter was 13 months old when I received the eviction notice. I was living in a hostel in Stratford, London E15. The letter said that we had two months to get out. We were homeless; that’s why we were in the hostel in the first place. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were 210 other young women living there. Now it’s luxury flats. The council said they would rehouse us, but it turned out they were threatening to move us hundreds of miles away, to Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham.

All of the women were evicted from their social housing hostel and told to find somewhere else to go, even if it meant leaving the city where they'd made a home for themselves and their children. They're engaging in powerful, radical activism and gaining support from celebrities like Russell Brand.

So what will you do to raise awareness about international poverty to ensure that no one is left behind today? Head to Twitter and join the conversation with #endpoverty, where there are several organizations and public figures tweeting articles, information, and resources. We are powerful forces in the fight to end poverty, both on and offline.