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Speaking out against poverty

The world’s biggest ever mobilisation against poverty and inequality took place yesterday.

Around the globe, people took part in events to mark 17 October – International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – and show their support of the Millennium Development Goals.


In the UK, Concern joined forces with United Nations representatives, other NGOs and members of the public to take a stand against poverty. The event was marked by volunteers holding a white banner around City Hall in London. Inspirational speeches were given by Kumi Naido, Chair of GCAP and Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General of UN. GCAP was launched two years ago at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil and is now the world’s largest ever anti-poverty movement, with organisations representing around 150 million people.

In Dublin, a large crowd gathered at the Famine Memorial on Custom House Quay. A large group of Concern staff were present, along with Dublin's Lord Mayor, members of the Oireachtas and representatives of national and local groups and organisations.

The sun mercifully stayed out as a range of people spoke about the injustice of poverty. Stuart Williams, speaking on behalf of ATD Fourth World, said that an important part of the event was about “celebrating the honour and courage of the poor”. This courage was certainly in evidence, as many people for whom poverty is an everyday reality stood up and spoke about their experiences.

Concern’s Kate Johnson also spoke, reading the following statement from Joseph Wresinski, founder of ATD Fourth World: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty”. Following the speeches, the crowd formed a demonstration march, and made their way down the quays, crossing O’Connell bridge and winding up in Liberty Hall for some well deserved tea and sandwiches.

The 250 people who took part in this event in Dublin are being joined by millions of people all over the world who are also speaking out against poverty. In almost 90 countries, people from all walks of life are gathering in public spaces, schools, places of work or worship, at sports and cultural events and at landmarks to demonstrate their frustration that we still live in a world scarred by poverty and inequality. Last year on this day, 23.5 million people stood up to demand an end to poverty, setting a Guinness World Record in the process. This year the goal has been to send an even louder message that politicians around the world cannot ignore.

In Scotland last week, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander met with representatives from the Global Campaign against Poverty (GCAP), as they put forward a range of issues around poverty.

Visit the DFID website to read about activities.