At the start of the 21st century 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty, most of them women. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry and 50,000 people die every day from poverty-related causes. It doesn't have to be this way. If we choose - if we have the will to act - we can make poverty history.
Poverty is a violation of human rights on a massive scale. In 2000 all members of the United Nations committed to "spare no effort" in tackling poverty by adopting the Millennium Declaration. Governments also launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to meet minimum targets to reduce poverty, hunger, illiteracy, discrimination against women, and environmental degradation by 2015.
But the pace of action is too slow. If we hold the present course, we will fail to meet these targets. And the poor will pay the price.
The Asian tsunami and other natural disasters since then have shown that Canadians, including the Canadian government, care deeply and react generously when the world is faced with humanitarian disasters. But short-term relief is not enough. We need a shift in national and international policies to eliminate poverty.
It's time for real action. Campaigns to end poverty have been launched world wide. If everyone who wants to end poverty speaks at the same time, world leaders will be forced to listen.
Canada's campaign to end poverty, Make Poverty History, calls for urgent and meaningful policy change.