UNHEARD VOICES tells the story of how men and women living in extreme poverty can transform our societies and contribute to building a fairer world. In Dakar, youngsters from a very poor neighbourhood rally round to transform an environmental disaster into an opportunity to re-establish relations between them. In New York, a girl questions the UN on the situation faced by the most disadvantaged young people in the world. In France, people living in extreme poverty pull together in their neighbourhoods to mobilize citizens.

What are these experiences? Who are these people? How can they participate in the discussions and decisions shaping tomorrow's world?

Ensuring that their voices are heard as part of ongoing public debate has yet to be achieved. Most of the time, in many countries, people living in extreme poverty are dismissed as worthless, dangerous even. At best, they are tolerated, at worst, they are banished as far out of sight as possible. Throughout the world, associations are taking steps to create partnerships with them

SUCCESS STORIES. International Movement ATD Fourth World has decades of experience in this field across the globe. Engaging with communities and the very poorest neighbourhoods, sharing the daily trials and tribulations of forgotten families, the Movement fights to ensure that the knowledge and experience of people living in extreme poverty are recognized. In France, Belgium and the European Union, important political decisions have come out of collaborating with those with first-hand experience of extreme poverty. In Guatemala, significant progress has been made on schooling thanks to consultations with families doing battle every day for their children... The great millennium goals of the United Nations, which include education and health, are evaluated directly by those for whom such goals were defined.

Today's challenges—social justice, climate change management, response to violence—call for a new attitude, a change... But how can we help this society to transform itself with the help of its poorest members? How can we establish more participatory forms of democracy where everyone has a place?


We talk about participatory democracy, about strengthened citizenship. It's a question of respecting rights for all, of a fair place for everyone in society. Nowadays, a country's level of democracy is also assessed by reference to the ability to access platforms for participation (associations, trade unions, political parties etc.), to express oneself, to be heard, to be counted, above all. But the question also arises as to whether we need to reach out to those who are so far away to enable them to share their thoughts and have their voices heard.


Participation is a right but it is also an opportunity for people living in extreme poverty and for society as a whole. It opens up a path to victory in the fight to eradicate poverty.

UNHEARD VOICES - A collection of video reports produced by International Movement ATD Fourth World

Grouped into several thematic areas, available online from 2012, the following reports are currently available

Agents of change

Those who open doors...

Pooling knowledge

From my neighbourhood to the UN

International Day for Overcoming Poverty

From social exclusion to social change

Millennium development goals

Representation for people in poverty?

Challenges in society