By Dr Angela Lusigi, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Dignity for all in practice
October 17, 2023
Today, October 17th marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - a powerful reminder of our shared global commitment to uplifting communities and restoring dignity to every individual. This year, the theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “Decent Work and Social Protection: Putting Dignity in Practice for All.” Informal jobs with limited rights and access to social protection leaves many living below the poverty line or at risk of falling into poverty. The International Labour Organisation reports that over two billion people, nearly two-thirds of the global workforce, work informally, with Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa having the highest informality rates.
Similarly, only 17 percent of Africa’s population, has access to social protection compared to 47% worldwide. The challenges are immense, but there are countless individuals who are overcoming obstacles and exemplify the triumph of achieving decent work and dignity in practice. Through the stories of three remarkable people from Ghana, we celebrate different facets of dignity in action: the transformative power of productive work, the gateway to innovation through access to knowledge, and the ability to unlock opportunities for all by giving back to society.
Dignity through productive work: Ibrahim’s Triumph
Ibrahim "Alinko" Yougbare stands as a pioneer in Ghana's recycling industry—a living testament to the transformative potential of productive work. For over three decades, Alinko dedicated himself to recycling plastic waste, crafting products like chair leg floor protectors, curtain ropes, and plastic lumber for furniture. His fortunes changed when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana recognized his tireless efforts and featured his journey in a documentary. This recognition paved the way for a business incubation opportunity from Footprint Africa, coupled with a grant. Alinko invested the grant in his enterprise, leading to its expansion.
Further support from the European Union (EU), the Asase Foundation, and UNDP's Waste Innovation Challenge dramatically increased Alinko's capacity. Previously handling 5.6 tons of plastics weekly, his enterprise now processes a staggering 11.2 tons, significantly contributing to tackling Ghana's plastic pollution crisis. Notably, Alinko's work has created employment opportunities for 30 people while indirectly enhancing the livelihoods of over 100 waste collectors. His journey illustrates the power of targeted support and demonstrates how productive work can transform lives and safeguard our planet.
Dignity through access to knowledge: Regina’s Inspirational journey
Access to knowledge is a fundamental right with the potential to break the chains of poverty. Regina's story exemplifies this truth. Despite initial challenges when entering the tech sector, she has since set herself apart as a trailblazing software designer and tech entrepreneur. Her passion for social change led her to establish Soronko Academy, West Africa's first coding and human-centered design school. The academy equips talented young women with technical and soft skills required to land jobs in technology. This helps reduce the gender gap in the tech industry and empowers them to shape their own destinies. Over 20,000 women and girls have received training at the academy, which has expanded to include boys, men, and children with disabilities.
Working in collaboration with community leaders, universities, media, and government officials, Regina is making strides by bringing ICT training and curricula for girls to low-income and rural communities. By exposing them to role models and offering a creative coding curriculum tailored for girls, Regina is building a new generation of girls with the skills, mindset, and confidence to pursue careers in the ICT field. Creating jobs in new fields for marginalized girls in Ghana will help break the cycle of poverty and tradition.
Dignity through helping others: Priscilla’s mission
Priscilla Asante's profound journey of transformation began when her daughter's illness ignited a relentless quest for solutions that ultimately led her to the healing power of nature. Witnessing her child's struggle with an intestinal infection, Priscilla delved into extensive research, unearthing the remarkable potential of probiotic yogurt made with natural ingredients. This homemade remedy not only brought relief to her daughter but also kindled a ray of hope for others facing similar health challenges.
In 2015, Priscilla founded Rosswood Company Limited. Beginning from her kitchen, she perfected her unique yogurt recipe. The enterprise quickly gained popularity among friends and families, motivating her to expand. Later, recognizing the opportunity to support women cashew producers in her community, Priscilla ventured into cashew processing. She developed innovative cashew products, including chocolate-coated cashew nuts, spiced varieties, and salted options, minimizing waste by utilizing broken cashew nuts for granola paste and cashew spread. Her determination and commitment have borne fruit, earning her support from various institutions. Priscilla's story demonstrates the transformative power of seizing opportunities with courage, not only building a successful business but also uplifting communities, empowering women and youth, and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.
As we commemorate World Poverty Eradication Day, let us draw inspiration from these individuals and their remarkable journeys. Alinko, Regina and Priscilla remind us that dignity can be achieved through productive work, access to knowledge, and helping others shape their future. Their stories underscore the importance of empowering individuals and communities through our collective action to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions, so that generations can thrive and experience dignity in action. Together, we can create a world where no one is left behind - a world where every individual's dignity is upheld.
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