Poverty and Human Rights

Poverty, also known as impoverishment or poorness is a state where in a person has little or no money and hardly any material possessions. People who don’t have money or material possessions are often shunned and looked down upon in this materialistic world where everything revolves around money. Even though many billionaires are springing up in the world, there are billions of people who are below poverty line. Poverty brings along many problems such as high infant mortality rate owing to poor maintenance conditions of the child, illiteracy which happens because there are no funds to attend schools, and at times enslavement in various parts of the world.

The above stated situations happen because poor people are not treated as equals. Being poor do not imply that someone is inferior; it is just that society which behaves this way most of the time. There are very less people who realize that every individual, whether below or above poverty line is equal before the law and hence, should be treated equally, else it will create distinctions based on irrelevant parameters and will harm eventually in the long run. It is really necessary to understand the causes of poverty and the scenario which poor people undergo, in order to eradicate poverty.

Poverty stricken people are treated as marginalized sections of the societies and are excluded from social gatherings where people with good income status are present. The Human Development Report in 2000 clearly stated that poverty is a violation of freedom and a basic human right must be to eradicate poverty. It states that all forms of development should have an objective to be pro-poor and space should be created to make sure that everyone is accommodated.

The universal declaration of human rights has various sections and chapters which deal with certain issues pertaining to poverty. Any person cannot be denied the right to vote, to work, to live, to get water and food on basis of being poor or rich. The rights and laws are same for member of every strata from the society and a poor person cannot be rejected a job position merely because of his economic condition. Also, the right to equality addresses this issue quite clearly when it mentions that before the constitution of any country, everyone is equal. Thus, poverty stricken people have equal access to all amenities. If they’re oppressed in any manner, they have the right to complain.


Discrimination is the act of denying a person’s right on the basis of his color, cast, creed, sex, race etc. The international human rights law is totally against discrimination in any form. It is a very profound thought a person should not be denied certain rights because of a certain group he/she might belong to. Such groups might be a racial group, a religious group, a social group, a sexual minority etc. This is because a person does not have control over what color he is born as, what linguistic community he is from, or what sexual preference he has naturally.

The cause of discrimination cannot be one-fold. There are many factors which lead to discrimination. The first one is conditioning. If you find your parents abusing people who’re lower in income group, or regarded as inferior in terms of their caste, then you’re likely to grow up with an attitude where you have no regards for those you supposedly consider inferior. Secondly, the media creates a lot of biases by creating hype. It will portray homosexuals and other minority in a negative light and what you perceive from that creates a negative attitude towards such groups. Post the 9/11 incidence in America, the Muslim community was shunned by the media and the whole image of this community changed in front of the world. Thus, you are likely to discriminate against such groups.

A set of measures are adopted by the government of various nations in favor of certain disadvantaged social categories, the purpose of which is to rectify the inequalities and discrimination that afflict them. There are several groups in the World, which have been given such positive discrimination for instancing the ‘Blacks’ in USA (affirmative action). Women in Scandinavia are given special privileges. But in no other country is the system as widespread as it is in India. In the last few years, this positive discrimination has been extended to include women in the ‘quota’ system.

Positive discrimination, also known as ‘affirmative action’ is another step taken for the goodwill of those who have been discriminated and oppressed for years. It includes taking into account various factors like race, caste, creed, religion, sex etc while making various national and legal policies so that any minority shouldn’t suffer. The main purpose is to encourage equality in the world in order to provide equal opportunities to everyone so that none should suffer as their ancestors did.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Economic, Social and Cultural rights are a division of the human rights. Almost 6 decades ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights took place which ensured that everyone in the world, regardless of social background, culture, race, caste, creed and economic stability be given equal rights. Economic, cultural and social rights were granted and were a part of the charter. Economic rights encompass the right to work, the right to education and so on. Social rights include the right to a good housing society, security, right to food, and cultural rights include rights for certain cultural groups as well as minorities.

Economic, social and cultural rights are terms too huge and require to be defined properly. At the ICESCR (a convention on the basic rights to be granted to humans as citizens of this planet), most of the countries participated and ratified the charter. The treaty signed by the participating nations is legally binding by force, and grants certain rights to humans across the globe. They are as follows:

  • Work Rights: Providing decent working environment and making sure no one is exploited at work are some of the things taken into consideration. Also, forced labour is shunned and looked down upon, and people can legally seek protection. Workers have the right to form their groups and unions.
  • Right to Education (RTE): The right to education ensures that children get free primary education so that they start inculcating learning and reading habits right from the start. Also, schemes like mid-day meals where under privilege children get free meals are used to ensure people get some incentives to come to college.
  • Cultural rights pertain to minority groups who should be allowed to celebrate their festivals and be allowed live in peace and with dignity in places where majority group resides.
  • Right to housing ensures that people get proper living conditions wherever they purchase a residence. Also, people should have equal access to renting and purchasing property.
  • Right to food scheme sees to it that no one is denied of nutrition. People have the basic right to be free from hunger and enough ways to get the food that will satiate their hunger.
  • Right to water and sanitation is present for people. Water should be accessible for day to day activities and the government of a country should ensure that such facilities are provided to the citizens.

Health and Human Rights


Health is described as the absence of any form of illness, be it mental or physical. According to the World Health Organization, every individual in the world has the right to enjoy the highest possible level of health. This planet needs someone who can take care of all health problems and make sure that there is a healthy environment everywhere. That is why every union of countries started their own conventions and presently, every country has at least one if not more treaty that addresses right to health as a human right.

In today’s scenario, where work like has become hectic, and one suffers from hours of stress and is compelled to become a victim of depression, it is really important to keep healthy which provide peace of mind, relax one and motivates oneself. Under the basic human right to health, various elements are present such as proper shelter, adequate drinking water, balanced nutrition and good sanitation facilities.

They say that a person without a healthy body and healthy mind is of not much use. Therefore, it is very necessary to make sure that people receive rights which are granted by the government and pertain to health. Many activities are taken us these days by the NGO to make sure that people are well informed about health rights. The following are certain activities which are undertaken:

  1. Research: Constantly trying to improve the quality of services available, the efficiency and the quickness are all matters which matter! Thus, research is done to make sure that people get these facilities on time and that too effectively.
  2. Education: Conducting camps and seminars which educate people and provide them proper food and water is required these days.

Work done by government and NGOs:

  1. Creation of community toilets: Government and NGOs have started building community toilets in developing and third world countries so that people don’t have to go and defecate in the open at places like jungles and farms.
  2. Providing water connections: Organizations see to it that there is a proper water supply going in every house and that there is no leakage. Also, water tankers are sent at places where there is shortage of water.
  3. Providing food at subsidized rate: The government brings out various schemes for people to give them food at a subsidized rate so that everyone gets proper food to eat and gets a balanced nutrition.