Co-convened by the Baha’i International Community, International Movement ATD Fourth World, and SOS Children’s Villages International. Download the notes from here.
On Tuesday, 11th July 2017, Baha’i International Community, International Movement ATD Fourth World and SOS Children’s Villages International jointly hosted the final installment of the Leave No One Behind Dialogue Series to launch the publication of a summary of recommendations from previous dialogues entitled “Reaching the Furthest Behind First: What Does it Mean for People, Policy and Practice” and to reflect on the powerful testimonies presented throughout the dialogue series.
The diverse panel of speakers invited to the event, which included activists with direct experience of poverty, continuously stressed the value of participation by people living in poverty in decision making processes. It was reiterated many times that civil society dialogues and government policy making are incomplete without the voices of those with a first hand experience of poverty. Recognizing people living in poverty as actors and sources of knowledge can have an extraordinarily powerful impact on their lives, as well as foster the creation of enlightened policies. To fail to invite people with experience of poverty to the table is to waste invaluable sources of wisdom.
Many speakers echoed the sentiment that a singular experience of suffering can affect a lifetime and thus, preventative policies should be a top priority for governments around the world. When one considers the way stigmatization by the community, lingering mental health effects, and time spent in jail or other types of institutions can leave a permanent mark on one’s life, it is clear that it is easier to prevent suffering than to attempt to erase it after the damage has been done.
Tying in with this idea, the importance of qualitative data when assessing poverty was also emphasized. Because the suffering involved with poverty is experienced in such diverse ways, viewing people as only numbers, a symptom of quantitative data, exacerbates ineffective policy-making. By including people living in poverty in the processes of examining poverty, a more holistic understanding of the experience will result.
All in all, the participants in the discussion agreed that the Leave No One Behind Dialogue Series should act as a model for discussions that need to take place all around the world, at all layers of government. When a myriad of different perspectives are invited to participate, especially the voices of those living in poverty,a reality check is provided and the emotion behind leaving no one behind can not be forgotten.