“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,” Father Joseph Wresinski said during the Call to Action of October 17, 1987.
This Call to Action launched 30 years ago is written on the Commemorative Stone at the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris and was unveiled in the presence of 100,000 people. It was on that day that “defenders of human and civil rights from every continent gathered on this plaza. They paid homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their conviction that human misery is not inevitable.
They pledged their solidarity with all people who, throughout the world, strive to eradicate extreme poverty”. The theme of this year’s World Poverty Day was “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies”.
This is a very profound theme. Sometime in May this year the World Bank said inequality in Botswana remains high with a Gini coefficient of 60.5 in 2009-2010, down slightly from 64.7 in 2002-2003. The report also said despite significant economic growth in the past decades, striking disparities remain amongst socioeconomic groups in income, wealth and living standards.
From independence in 1966 to the late 1990s, Botswana was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, comparable only to China, with an average annual GDP growth above 10%. Analysts are of the view that the phenomenal economic growth has not comparably translated into improved social-economic welfare with high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment prevalent. Botswana is grappling with high numbers of unemployment, weak economy depended mostly in diamonds, which are not forever, deteriorating education system and diminishing democracy amongst other things.
We cannot claim to be a thriving economy when there are 87,000 university graduates roaming the streets. Just last week close to 3,000 students graduated from various universities in Botswana. We all know the fate-awaiting a majority of these poor souls: no prospects of employment. We have a crisis and the current political administration has no solution to the problem. A majority of our people cannot take care of their basic needs. We are a population of about two million and it boggles the mind why some of us are living below the poverty
“Achieving further poverty reduction will be challenging with the pace of progress constrained by limited private sector job creation, particularly in urban areas, and reliance on low productivity agricultural jobs in rural areas, combined with reduced credit growth and high levels of household indebtedness.”
– The World Bank