“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.” Joseph Wresinski, the founder of ADT Fourth World

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Nearly half of the world’s population (that’s three billion people) live on less than $2.5 a day. 1.1 billion people have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion people live without basic sanitation. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of them residing in Asia and the Pacific. 18 million deaths a year, one third of the world’s deaths, are caused by poverty.

All the more shockingly, an average cow in the European Union receives more than £1.40 a day in subsidies, which is more than the amount that half the world’s population survives on.

This year’s theme for International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “Ending the Violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting Empowerment and Building Peace.” Just like the quote above by Joseph Wresinski, this theme recognizes poverty as a human rights violation, rather than simply as a low income level.

Today is World Food Day, a day to honor the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.

World Food Day

1.5 billion live on less than $1 a day

World Food Day is a day to consider questions such as: is there enough food for everybody? Why do people go hungry? Are we eating too much? Are we eating too much meat? What is sustainable farming? What is genetically manipulated food?

Food is a basic human right but nearly one in six people around the world do not have enough food to be healthy and to live an active life. Approximately 1.5 billion people live on less than US $1 a day and every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation states that hunger is “the most critical manifestation of poverty,” and hunger, “undermines the peace and prosperity of nations and traps individuals in a vicious cycle of poor nutrition, ill health and diminished capacity for learning and work that is passed on from one generation to the next.”

Former Head of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Dr Jacques Diouf, speaks of the connection of hunger and poverty and raises a valid point: “While hunger is a consequence of poverty, the opposite is also true: Hunger causes poverty.”

It is estimated that 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls. Today is International Day of Rural Women, a day that recognizes the vital role of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

rural women

60% of chronically hungry people are women.

The day is purposefully held a day before World Food Day in order to highlight the role rural women play in food production.

The International Day of Rural Women was first observed at a significant time in October 2008. 2006, 2007, and 2008 were the years of the global food crisis when prices of staple foods rose dramatically around the world. Although prices declined slightly right afterwards they spiked again in 2010 and have been high since. UN Women Watch writes that food prices are “likely to remain high and volatile over the next decade.”

Poor rural households feel the global crises the hardest. The poorer the household the more its members have to change the way they live to cope with the crises.