World Stands Up Against Poverty
TODAY, October 16 and AND TOMORROW October 17, people around the world will, in symbolic gesture, stand up and speak out against poverty.
Over a period of 24 hours from nine in the morning GMT on October 16 to midnight on October 17, people from all corners of the globe and all walks of life will gather in school halls, public spaces, offices, churches, on sports grounds, or in the streets to be part of the biggest ever mass action against poverty and inequality, and in support of the Millennium Development Goals.
The global action will take place within 90 countries within a week-and-a-half before the International Day of Eradication on Poverty.
The ‘Stand Up and Speak Out’ campaign calls upon people to literally and symbolically do just that – to stand up and speak out – against economic injustices in the world.
The result of the mass mobilisation will be recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, which will be announced globally on October 18.
Last year, 23.5 million partook in the action of which 3.6 million took part in Africa; 19 million in Asia; 55000 in Latin America; 520000 in the Middle East; and 900000 in Europe.
Organisers are hopeful that this year’s event will widen the call to action and it is anticipated that a record high of four million people will take part in the action on the African continent.
“As we cross the mid-point to the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it is clear that urgent action in many countries is needed now more than ever,” said Salil Chetty of the United Nations Millennium Campaign.
“By standing up last year, millions around the world demonstrated their frustration with the lack of real progress in poverty eradication. This year, millions more are joining this growing global movement of people who refuse to stay silent in the face of poverty or broken promises to end it.”
For this event, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and the United Nations Millennium Campaign are working with large numbers of national and local partners – from schools and universities to local community groups and women’s groups, choirs and sporting clubs to faith groups, trade unions and corporations.
A Burst of Vitality and Creativity Around the Campaign
The events planned are meant to be entertaining and engaging, while making a strong impression on national, regional politicians and governments, as well as state and global institutions.
Millions of people are also envisaged to join the campaign in cyber space, posting blogs, wikis, videos and pictures on various online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo.
In Italy, Microsoft will create a dedicated micro-site for the action, and in many poor countries – Africa in particular – mobile phone technology has enabled groups to pre-register their activities online using WAP phones and viewing videos of ‘Stand Ups’ in other countries.
Across Africa thousands of events are planned.
In Kenya, the Ministry of Education has given permission to mobilise 25000 schools and the Kenyan Police Commissioner will host stand up actions in the prison service across the country.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it is anticipated that two million people in the country’s six provinces will take part in the campaign.
Somalia is one of 25 countries where delegations of civil society representatives will present policy demands to the Transitional Federal Government pushing for changes in world trade in favour of their agro-pastoral economy.
The world’s largest youth organisations, including the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, the International YMCA, AIESEC, IMCS, and the Global Youth Action Network, are supporting the action.
In Rwanda youth groups are organising a ‘Stand Up’ soccer tournament with 20 primary schools. A youth network in Ghana has appointed ‘Stand Up’ ambassadors to lead events all over the country, including a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) youth delegation.
In Bangladesh an umbrella of youth movements will mobilize 10000 young people to block a busy crossroads with a human chain, and in India, a local NGO is planning a march of 20000 Dalits, focusing on the land rights and the achievement of the MDGs for Dalits in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
Across Europe mass action is also anticipated to draw millions. In Germany the Euro 2008 Qualifier soccer game against the Czech Republic will see fans start the match with a massive ‘Stand Up’ moment. In The Hague the national anti-poverty campaign will display 200 uniquely created life-size ‘Avatars’ representing members of the public from across The Netherlands. In London trade union representatives, students and the UN Deputy Secretary General will use a white band – a symbol of the global anti-poverty campaign – to call for renewed commitments on more and better aid, debt cancellation, trade justice, gender equality and public accountability.
Faith leaders will also join in on the action. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, through his Art of Living Foundation – an organisation aimed at relieving disease and violence at societal level, will use his clout to mobilize people to stand up. In India, the renowned yoga guru, Swami Ramdev, famous for his breathing exercises, will do the same. The Micah Challenge, a global Christian campaign, will put a challenge to international leaders. The Episcopal and Lutheran churches have made the MDGs their top social justice priority and have appointed an MDG-focused organiser in every diocese.
During the campaign, the link between gender inequalities and poverty will also be highlighted, where women form the majority of the world’s poor owing to unequal access to resources and opportunities, discriminatory land and inheritance laws and unequal distribution of household resources.
“The staggering range of events shows more than just creativity but that there is a new energy and compulsion to join together and speak out against the greatest injustice of our time – the disgrace that is preventable death from poverty,” said Kumi Naidoo, Chairperson of the GCAP in South Africa.
“The gap between rich and poor, unequal distribution of resources and sheer lack of urgency our leaders show in responding to this with real action on aid, trade and debt is driving this year’s mobilisation to new heights.”
Why the Stand Up Campaign
According to the GCAP coalition – which is a loose coalition of about 115 national coalitions consisting of NGOs, international networks, social movements, trade unions, women’s organisations, faith-based groups and other civil society players – more than one billion people are living in abject poverty the world over. Seventy percent of these people constitute women.
The poverty problem is compounded by the HIV/AIDS and malaria emergencies with 40 million people infected.
It is further estimated that 104 million children and 860 million adults are denied access to school.
Children and young people make up half of the world’s population and suffer from a lack of inclusion and provision of basic services, the GCAP coalition said.
“Hunger is a daily reality for many. In parts of the world, the death of mothers in childbirth and infant children are still routine – deaths that could be prevented by the availability of simple healthcare We draw inspiration from their persistent daily struggles to realise their rights to livelihoods, resources, assets and basic services,” said Theo Uvanga, Namibian-based member of the GCAP Africa Coalition.