U.N. HLPF 2019 & the Family Literacy Declaration of Principles

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How the 1994 Many Families Many Literacies Declaration of Principles Prepares U.N. Member States for The 2019 High Level Political Forum

The History of the Many Families Many Literacies: An International Declaration of Principles

In 1994 many young women with little children in the United States were being required by social services to enroll in family literacy programs to keep their benefits. At the same time U.S. courts were mandating attendance by vulnerable mothers in family literacy programs if they wanted to keep their children. Many of these young women had been sexually and physically abused and some were being trafficked. Some were also struggling with physical illnesses for which they were considered ineligible for medical care. One young woman suffering from advanced stages of uterine cancer was denied surgery because she had no medical insurance, but even though she was unable to sit because of the intensity of the pain she was still forced to attend GED classes in order to receive food stamps and keep her three children. She died in the struggle.[1]

The monetization of misery – refusing medical aid to dying women while making money from commercial literacy programs that they were mandated to attend to “educate” them – is as heinous now as it was then. Thus my intent in presenting the 1994 family literacy declaration of principles is to raise concern about this predatory phenomenon and to argue that the monetization of the misery of extreme poverty presents a significant risk to the positioning of the U.N. and U.N. member states in relationship to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 30) and peacebuilding efforts around the world.[2] It is a moral imperative and an ethical responsibility that the U.N. work closely with NGOs and civil society to ensure global, regional and local initiatives that create safe, resilient and sustainable local communities, to foster greater involvement and local participation, and by so doing, make every effort to reclaim the human rights of families – especially women and children who are trying to cope with abusive circumstances in their struggle to survive.

[1] Toxic Literacies: Exposing the Injustice of Bureaucratic Texts: Denny Taylor. Heinemann, September 1996.

[2] All supporting documentation can be read and is available for download at: https://www.dennytaylor.com/

Denny Taylor