|March recognizes the billions living on less than two dollars a day|
By MUTSUMI SHIRAI|
© Earth Times News Service
NITED NATIONS--Some 8,000 women and men marched 8,000 women and men marched here last week to draw attention to the plight of half of the world’s six billion people that live on less than two dollars a day.
The march was to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held on 17 October. The Fédération des femmes du Québec, a Canadian NGO, in collaboration with 5,000 NGOs from 159 countries organized the march. Fatoumata Sire Diakite, one of the main organizers of the march, said in the press conference that the reason the march took place at the UN was that it has a high concentration of delegations in its vicinity. It aimed to advocate UN members to take concrete measures on poverty reduction which were agreed upon at the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, and more recently, at the last month’s Millennium Summit Declaration.
“We are asking the United Nations Secretary-General to push member states to do what they said and what they signed. Countries signed many conventions, but they don’t do anything about it,” said Diakite.
The march was also held at the World Bank and IMF in Washington last Sunday, mainly calling for debt cancellation for the highly indebted countries.
“We asked the World Bank and IMF to change the microeconomic programs they have in developing countries," said Diakite. "and to assess the impact of these programs at the grassroots level. We asked them to listen to the women at the grassroots level. If they ask women, not the government, they will find out that the programs are failing.”
The march has brought together various participants from different NGOs and interest groups including reproductive health supporters, anti-child labor groups, anti-violence proponents and HIV/AIDS activists.
“I am here to show my solidarity to the people in developing countries," one of the march participant from Pakistan said. "who are not benefiting from globalization."
According to a UN study, efforts to reduce poverty have brought many benefits to people in developing countries. Over all, increased school attendance rates, improved access to health care, reduced infant mortality rates and expanded average life expectancy demonstrate great improvements.
In his message, the Secretary-General said that what is missing is the member countries’ will to eradicate poverty. He called for developed nations “to provide meaningful debt relief, remove protectionist barriers against exports from the poorest countries, and to spend more than just a negligible fraction of income on development assistance.”
Annan added, the importance of a stronger effort by developing countries “to fight corruption, to put an end to persistent conflict, and to build a platform of good governance.”