Work towards The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is bypassing the very poorest people in the world, because they are not being allowed their basic rights, say campaigners.
It comes as world and business leaders prepare for talks next week to rate their progress on the targets for development and reducing poverty.
More than a billion people living in shanty towns are missing out because the target to improve the lives of slum dwellers only aims to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers, says rights group, Amnesty International.
“Unless world leaders agree to take urgent steps to uphold the human rights of people living in poverty, the poorest and most disadvantaged people around the world will continue to be left out of the MDGs,” said Amnesty’s Salil Shetty.
“People must be able to hold governments accountable when they fail to uphold human rights. They should be able to challenge corruption or neglect through courts and regulatory bodies to ensure governments actually fulfil their obligations.”
About 70 per cent of people living in poverty are women. But many countries, working towards the development goals, haven’t tackled the wide-spread discrimination women face in getting food, water, and housing, while discriminatory laws still underpin gender-based violence, the group said in a statement out on Wednesday evening.
Area governments are carrying out mass forced evictions that drive people in shanty towns deeper into poverty and violate their right to housing. For example, in just one city in Nigeria over 200,000 people are currently facing eviction because the authorities plan to demolish more than 40 informal settlements in Port Harcourt’s waterfront area. Thousands will lose their livelihoods as well as their homes if the demolitions go ahead.
Kenya is just one country whose policies have ignored the needs of shanty town women while trying to meet its development targets. Women living in shanty towns across the east African country risk being attacked when they use communal toilets, especially after dark. And police there are failing to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women and girls.
“A global promise to tackle poverty cannot leave the poorest and most vulnerable people behind," said Salil Shetty.
“But that is what is happening – and will continue to happen – unless world leaders commit to take the action necessary to achieve real change, and to uphold the human rights of the poor. This Summit is the last chance; failure here and now all but guarantees failure in 2015.”