Millions worldwide to stand up and demand that world leaders eradicate poverty

By | 14 October 2009

Citizens attempt to break another Guinness World Record by showing their governments they won’t stand for broken promises to world’s poorest
United Nations offices, together with the Millennium Campaign and civil society partners, are mobilizing people around the world to stand up and demand action to end poverty. After a year in which progress on eradicating global poverty has actually reversed, millions of people will come together across continents, cultures and time zones on Friday to tell their governments in no uncertain terms what they want them to do: End Poverty Now.

Ordinary people, poor and rich, will gather at events across the globe from 16 to 18 October 2009 as part of “Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now!” to demand that world leaders achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a set of promises to eradicate extreme poverty and its root causes by 2015. In a sign of the massive global support for the achievement of the MDGs, last year more than 116 million people participated in “Stand Up,” shattering the Guinness World Record for the largest mobilization of human beings in recorded history.

“With just six years left until the deadline by which heads of state have pledged to eradicate extreme poverty and its root causes, ‘Stand Up’ will be a stark reminder that citizens will not accept excuses for governments breaking promises to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said Salil Shetty, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. “This year’s mobilization will place particular emphasis on telling world leaders that their track record on women’s rights, maternal mortality and hunger is unacceptable. Citizens refuse to accept the fact that 70 per cent of the people living in poverty are women and children, and 500,000 women continue to die annually in the process of giving life. They are demanding urgent action from their leaders.”

“Millions of people are standing up against poverty, while politicians are sitting on their hands,” said Adelaide Sosseh, Co-Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) based in The Gambia. “The combined effects of the economic, climate and food crises are affecting people of all ages and stations in life, in all countries – especially women — but those already living in poverty are the hardest hit. Given the amounts found to bail out banks in just a year, we know the resources are not lacking. It´s this lack of political will to tackle poverty that remains the biggest motivation behind Stand Up participation.”

Harnessing Technology To Connect The World and Mobilize Online

This year, for the first time, organizers will take advantage of the awesome power and reach of digital technology to make mobilization and engagement possible online. The UN Millennium Campaign has partnered with Skype and Ustream, the leading live online video platforms that enable anyone to broadcast to a global audience of unlimited size. The unique partnership will bridge technologies in order to connect the world in conversation about the most important issues facing our generation.

On 12-15 October, in the lead-up to the mobilization, former Irish President Mary Robinson and African entertainers Femi Kuti and Angelique Kidjo will be among a group of high-profile decision makers and cultural celebrities participating in a 30-minute conversation with ordinary citizens around the world to discuss poverty and its root causes. For the first time ever, the Skype calls will be broadcast live on Facebook, thanks to technology provided by Ustream. Viewers will be encouraged to start their own conversations about poverty and its root causes on these powerful social networking platforms. For more details and to watch and participate in the conversations live visit

Media wishing to view or embed the live conversations can visit and media wishing to download and broadcast the clips after the conversations have occurred should use Both links will be active on 13 October.

Citizens can also visit beginning on 16 October to Stand Up virtually and be counted towards what organizers hope will be a new Guinness World Record.

Actions Around the World

Amongst the thousands of “Stand Up” events being planned across every inhabited continent are:

In Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, thousands of rugby fans attending the Absa Currie Cup Semi Final matches will Stand Up at the beginning of each match in solidarity with those demanding the end of poverty, through a partnership between the United Nations Information Centre and the South Africa Rugby Union.

In Nairobi, Kenya, an anti-hunger concert dubbed Free the Hungry Billion, Stand Up and Take Action, will bring together development-conscious musicians from across the African continent, including Oliver Mutukudzi (Zimbabwe), Susan Owiyo (Kenya), Professor Jay (Tanzania), Didier Awadi (Senegal), Ntsiki Mazwai (South Africa), Carlou D (Senegal), Nameless (Kenya) and Wahu (Kenya). Food donations will be collected from attendees.

Also in Kenya, thousands of people are expected to attend the Western Kenya Utamaduni Festival to celebrate the region’s culture through music, drama and bull-fighting performances and advocate for pro-poor development, focused on food security. The event will be hosted by a Member of Parliament who is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

In Nigeria, thousands of people are expected to attend various concerts over the three-day mobilization by performers including Sarah Mitaru and Femi Kuti, who will honour the life and work of renowned African musician/AIDS activist Fela Kuti. The performers will explore the MDGs and the issues of social injustice, exclusion and poverty through song and dance. They will also sign a petition demanding accountability and transparency in their governments in order to achieve the MDGs.

In Zimbabwe, residents from Harare’s high density suburbs are expected to participate in a sports gala organized by Transparency International, where 20 teams will compete in soccer, volleyball and netball games. The activity will provide the residents of the suburbs with a platform to hold their leaders accountable for their promises to end poverty.

In the Philippines, the Millennium Campaign will launch an “I Vote for the MDGs” campaign during “Stand Up” by surveying citizens about the issues they want their leaders to prioritize, in preparation for the May 2010 national and local elections. Results of the survey will be presented to the country’s presidential candidates during a forum on 20 October.

In India, citizens will gather at India Gate on 16 October to light a lamp to symbolize the dispersal of the darkness of poverty and illiteracy, against the backdrop of the festival of lights that begins on 17 October across the country. At the event, organized by the National Confederation of Dalit Organizations, intellectuals, Members of Parliament, civil society and youth groups will demand implementation of the Urban Employment Guarantee Act to provide livelihood opportunities to millions of people living in poverty in urban slums across the country.

Also in India, from 16 to 18 October, campaigners from Wada Na Todo Abhiyan will launch the second phase of the “9 is Mine” campaign across more than 100 Parliamentary constituencies, demanding functional health centers and schools in every village, town and city of the country. Across bus stands, schools, hospitals, railway stations, bazaars, parks and places of worship, the public will be asked to assess the functionality of their health centres and schools.

In Bangladesh, tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a massive rally at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on 17 October, inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The rally will encourage the government to make fighting poverty a major goal of Vision 2021, the long-term plan being developed in advance of the country’s 2021 Golden Jubilee. The event will be telecast on 10 screens in other public places throughout Dhaka.

In Nepal, the President will read a Stand Up Pledge with members of the Constituent assembly at an event organized by the National Planning Commission and UN in Nepal at the President’s Official residence, broadcast live on national television. This will be followed by a concert hosted by the Millennium Campaign and Art of Living, where thousands of people are expected to gather in a large open-air theatre in the heart of Kathmandu on 16 October to Stand Up for peace and the reduction of poverty in Nepal. The concert will feature performances by some of Nepal’s top singers.

A report will be launched on MDG progress at a poverty hearing in Peru on 17 October, bringing together rural citizens to call on their government to combat maternal and child mortality and assure healthcare for women. An “alternative budget” with a concrete plan for how the government can achieve the MDGs will be presented to Parliament.

Across Europe, on 17 October 17 from 7:00-9:00 PM(GMT + 1 hour), radio stations will simultaneously play Bob Marley’s song “Get Up, Stand Up.” The song will also be played often throughout the three-day mobilization in Europe, reminding audiences of the mobilization happening across the globe.

On 16-17 October, the cities of Barcelona, Munich, Paris and Milan will be awarded with the “MDG Committed City Seal” for their role in promoting the Millennium Development Goals in their cities. Through a partnership between United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Millennium Campaign, UCLG members across the world will show their commitments to the MDGs by displaying large white banners on City Halls and other government buildings.

In Slovenia, the President will address participants at the Stand Up event in Ljubljana, being organized by the UN Association of Slovenia, Slovene Philanthropy, and the UN Information Service in Vienna with the support of the UN Millennium Campaign and the Embassies of the United States and of the Netherlands.

In New York City, citizens will Stand Up and Dance on 16 October at a Friday evening party organized by Mercy Corps and the ONE Campaign to pressure the United States Congress to pass the Roadmap to End Global Hunger plan.

At McGill University in Canada, the entire football stadium will be asked to Stand Up against poverty at the university’s homecoming game on 17 October.

Visit for a full list of events.

Among the millions of people who will again Stand Up to affect change from their governments are:

Monica Amollo, a Kenyan woman who after being told she won a Parliamentary election, saw her seat handed to a male opponent. To try to affect policy change, she organized the first-ever public anti-poverty rally in Kenya’s Nyanza province, where women spoke about being sexually harassed on Lake Victoria while trying to access fish — their main means of livelihood. The women petitioned their local authorities, and police immediately began cracking down on harassment. Today, women in the area are able to work with a greater sense of security.

Chendramma, a 48 year-old poor tribal woman from India’s lowest caste, who spearheaded public rallies during “Stand Up” in 2008 and organized a human chain to demand fair, equal and productive employment opportunities. Taking inspiration from the massive mobilization, anti-poverty campaigners filed a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, demanding wages in line with the country’s Minimum Wages Act. The effort culminated in great success when on July 3, 2009, the State Government revised wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act as per the demands of the citizens.

The mobilization is organized globally by the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

For more information, audio-visual content, to book an interview or for details on events visit or contact:

Christophe Verhellen
United Nations Information Centre Pretoria
Telephone: +27 82 783 3782

Kara Alaimo
United Nations Millennium Campaign
Telephone: +1 212-906-6399

Ciara O’Sullivan
Global Call to Action Against Poverty
Telephone: +34 679 594 809

About the Campaigns:

The UN Millennium Campaign was established by the UN Secretary General in 2002. The Campaign supports citizens’ efforts to hold their governments to account for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals were adopted by 189 world leaders from rich and poor countries, as part of the Millennium Declaration which was signed in 2000. These leaders agreed to achieve the Goals by 2015. Our premise is simple: we are the first generation that can end poverty and we refuse to miss this opportunity. For more information, visit

The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is a civil society alliance of social movements, international NGOs, trade unions, community groups, women’s organizations, faith and youth groups, local associations and campaigners working together across more than 100 national coalitions/platforms. GCAP is calling for action from the world’s leaders to meet their promises to end poverty and inequality. In particular, GCAP demands solutions that address the issues of public accountability, just governance and the fulfillment of human rights; trade justice; more and better aid; debt cancellation; climate justice; peace and security as well as gender equality and women’s rights. For more information, visit

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