Shut Out, Ignored, Deprived

Every day, in every region of the world, people living in poverty are discriminated against – whether through individual acts of others, or institutional discrimination by the state. 

Roma who were evicted from the centre of the town in 2004, are now living in metallic barracks placed by the municipality at the outskirts of the town next to a sewage treatment plant, Miercurea Ciuc/Czikszereda, Romania, 17 January 2009

The discrimination may be prompted by their race, caste, ethnicity, gender, disability, minority or Indigenous status, or simply because they are poor. Whatever their differences, many people living in poverty have a shared experience of being excluded – either from the society around them or the international community.

Some of the barriers that shut them out are clear for all to see; others are more insidious. But whether they take the form of gated compounds in wealthy cities or  insurmountable obstacles when trying to access public services, the effect is to condemn billions of people to a cycle of poverty and human rights violations.

Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately represented among the poorest in both developed and developing countries. This is a stark reflection of the history of colonization in many countries and the systematic discrimination that Indigenous Peoples still experience. In numerous countries, Indigenous Peoples’ continue to be denied their rights to their traditional lands, which impacts all aspects of their lives from cultural identity, to access to food, health, water, education and livelihoods.

Discrimination and exclusion break the connection between people and the institutions responsible for ensuring their rights. They can deny people any opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their lives. In many countries, the situation is worsened by the insecurity in which the communities live.

Spokespeople and community leaders demanding respect for human rights and challenging vested interests face threats, harassment and attacks. Entrenched discrimination, poverty and marginalization expose women to a heightened risk of violence while at the same time denying them adequate protection by police and access to government services and support. Discrimination shuts children out of education, stopping them from realizing their potential and locking communities into a further generation of poverty.

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