I am the voice of 1,66 million households living in poverty

Suggestions for CSW68 deliberations

I am the voice of 1,66 million households living in poverty, 3/5th of those (~ 1 million) are single parent households with mostly a woman as the head of that household.

17 January 2024 I asked them: 

What do you need? What keeps you poor?

I present to you here what the poor, most of them women, told me they needed most when I asked them via X. Their answers, showing great insight into their plight, poured in over mere hours.

It showed me, again, that the poor do not lack brains, they lack money and opportunity.

If they are coloured, sick, low education, single parent, then their problems compound.

Artemis Westenberg

collected and commented on by Artemis Westernberg, President of Vrouwenbelangen

What they want is:

Equal treatment as meant by Article 1 of the Constitution of the Netherlands; which means EVERY municipality executes the laws governing poverty in the SAME HUMANE WAY.

Trust, respect, dignity, agency. The failure to attain those ‘freedoms’ and self-respect stems from a government that right now sets the tone to deny them those. However, the execution of the present Dutch laws should be aimed to enforce a treatment with respect.

Equality also means the right to receive a birthday gift; the right to eat at a friend’s house, or even to eat regularly with another poor citizen to combat loneliness and be more frugal with your budget. All rights that the non-poor have, on any given day.

Allow people to be assisted by others, as a caring society should not exist only if you are wealthy enough. Again, rights that anyone else, non-poor, not living on some kind of social security, does have.

Allow people to have savings of at least 1500 euro extra in their bank account to be self-reliant

Most of the financial problems would melt away with a guaranteed basic income, eliminating the stifling, nay killing, control by civil servants.

The Debt-industry needs to be tightly regulated, in order for the poor to have the hope to ever leave their poverty behind. This regulation needs to include the government agencies who too quickly increase the debt with fines.

Access is a problem:

Housing that is affordable and liveable including heating and cooling costs.

Equality and equity can only be attained in a society that does not allow age-discrimination

Politicians and civil servants have little to no knowledge, and understanding, what too little income does to the citizens they are purported to serve – they must be educated by the poor

Several areas where the cost of the service for the poor (or perhaps for all citizens) should be zero:

Public transport that is truly affordable for the poor, or free, as loneliness is felt as a punishment for being poor, besides loneliness is bad for your health, physically and mentally. Free public transport would ensure the opportunity to see friends and family.

Healthcare that is affordable, which definitely means no co-pays for medicine, no co-pays for health care as healthcare should not be dependent on money, but on health concerns.

Healthcare that includes dental care to keep their heart health and their smiles possible. 

Free child care to ensure access to education and work for the poor, and for everyone else a cap of 150 euros per month.

No Value Added Tax on feminine hygiene products – and a cap on the prices of said products. 

NO VAT on fruit and vegetables, including frozen vegetables and fruit.

The right to pay in cash, as research has proven time and again that it is easier to keep within your budget by paying with cash.

All in all, two reasons for poverty stood out which can be summed up by the way we view our society and citizens:

Our Capitalist system based on an inordinate belief in market forces fixing anything and everything & Our Calvinistic prejudice as a society seeing ‘personal guilt’ as the basis for poverty. Everything is always your own fault.

Lastly: Remember being poor is not a lack of character but a lack of cash!


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