38.7 Million People Break Guinness World Record for Stand Up Speak Out on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

    Online press conference today with Mary Robinson, President, Realizing
    Rights, the ethical global initiative, Salil Shetty (UNMC) and Kumi
    Naidoo (GCAP) at 14.00GMT - log on at

    NEW YORK, Oct. 18 /CNW/ -- Over 38.7 million people, in 110 countries
have broken the Guinness World Record -- set last year at 23.5 million -- for
the largest number of people to "STAND UP AGAINST POVERTY" in 24 hours.
    (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20071018/NYTH092 )
    The "Stand Up and Speak Out" record attempt took place over 16th and 17th
October and was jointly organised by the United Nations Millennium Campaign
(UNMC) and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) with a wide range
of other partners. The challenge saw millions of people physically and
intentionally standing up against poverty, inequality and in support of the
Millennium Development Goals.  They spoke out to demand a more urgent
political response to the growing crisis of global poverty.
    United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who led a stand up action
at UN Headquarters in New York, said, "Today tens of millions of people are
making their voices heard by standing up and speaking out against poverty and
for the Millennium Development Goals. They are sending messages that call on
their leaders to keep their promises. They are calling for the actions of
citizens to be matched by the actions of Governments, in developing and
developed countries alike, to demonstrate the political will required to end
the scourge of poverty once and for all."
    For 24 hours from 9pm GMT on the 16th of October, people around the world
from all walks of life came together in their schools, streets, market places,
in front of government buildings and local councils, in workplaces and houses
of worship, at sports and cultural events and at public landmarks to
demonstrate their frustration that we still live in a world where 50,000
people die daily from preventable causes. The mass mobilisation provided a
platform for global civil society seeking more active involvement in the
current aid architecture debate, debt cancellation processes, trade
negotiations and public accountability monitoring. The largest numbers of
people who took part in this mobilisation came from developing countries.
    Kumi Naidoo, Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty said:
"The confirmation of the new Guinness record coupled with the political
dimension to this year's action, tells us we are a growing movement of people
holding our leaders to account for tackling global poverty and inequality. 
The impressive efforts of our brothers and sisters in developing countries
through new lobbying actions like delegations to politicians on this date,
shows the poor are watching how resources are allocated and want to have a say
how policies are made. It now falls on rich countries to fulfil their side of
the bargain too."
    The UN Millennium Campaign's Executive Coordinator Eveline Herfkens said:
"Together we have broken the incredible record for the largest number of
people standing up to demand action on poverty. But the record we really want
to break is the world's record of breaking promises and ignoring the poor. We
don't want to record numbers of people dying of poverty every year.  This is
the great issue of our times, let us become great by dealing with it

    'Stand Up' regional overview of World record numbers

    Africa: 7,473,057
    Arab Region: 2,546,885
    Asia: 27,612,061
    Europe: 144,931
    Latin America & Caribbean: 734,105
    North America: 109,828
    Oceania: 117,333

    For further details and country breakdowns please visit

    Country Highlights
    -- In India all over the country people of all ages were standing up. In
       Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India, five million people
       participated. DAV Schools, the largest public school system of the
       country, reported 500,000 voices against poverty and at Kashmir
       University, 35,000 students stood up.  Also in Delhi, one of four
       Women's Tribunals on Poverty gathered 400 women from 20 states to
       debate how gender exclusion and discrimination impede development in
       poor countries.
    -- In Bangladesh just under 850,000 people stood up with the main event
       held at Dhaka City office and led by the Mayor followed by a high
       profile concert. People called for cancellation of debt servicing to
       eradicate poverty and at the end 1000 candles were lit to express
       solidarity with the GCAP movement.
    -- In South Africa, children in Pretoria stood up and the residents of
       the Big Brother Africa House joined the call lighting a bonfire
       against poverty which burned for the 24 hour period (see
    -- In Malawi children were asked to bring a blade of grass to a local
       football match, the sum of which was their total of 15,584
    -- In the Philippines, a massive 7+million people were mobilised at
       events involving faith groups and at the Anti Poverty fair.
       Campaigners called on the Arroyo government to change their position
       regarding the worsening condition of millions of Filipinos trapped in
    -- Pakistani campaigners mobilised over 3.5 million including thousands
       who helped unfurl a 10km-long banner, In Bahawalpur carrying one
       million written messages.  Pakistan was one of 25 countries across the
       world using giant banners to form a white band, the symbol of the
       global anti-poverty movement.
    -- Palestinian children throughout the Occupied West Bank and Gaza spoke
       out saying no to poverty.  The activities organized jointly with the
       Palestinian Ministry of Education took place for the first time in
       public and private schools, as well as UNWRA schools.
    -- In Ramallah, a choir from the University performed a new musical work
       "The Poverty Requiem" as one of a global chain of 20 performances that
       took place on every continent. A high school choir also performed the
       piece at the UN Headquarters in New York.
    -- In Egypt, Cairo the "Sailing the Nile" initiative saw over a million
    -- Civil Society delegations to government were organised in an
       unprecedented coordinated global lobby against poverty.  Somalia was
       one of 35 countries where civil society representatives organised a
       group to present demands for pro-poor policy change directly to their
    -- In The Hague, the national anti poverty campaign displayed 200
       uniquely created life-size 'Avatars' whilst in London the UN Deputy
       Secretary General stood up with key women leaders in front of city
    -- In Rwanda, youth groups organized a Stand Up soccer tournament with 20
       primary schools and in Bangladesh 10,000 young people blocked a busy
       crossroads with a human chain.
    -- Faith leaders Stand Up and Speak Out -- At papal mass at the Vatican
       Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of support urging increased efforts
       to eliminate poverty. Indian spiritual leader his holiness Sri Sri
       Ravi Shankar mobilized 30,000 people at his ashram in Bangalore and
       millions more across the globe to raise their voices through the Art
       of Living Foundation. Micah Challenge, the global Christian campaign
       took part and In the US, Canada and Europe Episcopal and Lutheran
       churches made the MDGs their top social justice priority by appointing
       an MDG-focused organizer in every diocese.

    Visit www.standagainstpoverty.org for full list of events from around the

    Notes to Editors:

    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 fulfilment of human rights; trade justice; more and better aid; debt
cancellation and gender equality and women's rights.
    The UN Millennium Campaign was established by UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan 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, formally adopted by 189 countries in
the year 2000 are a set of eight specific goals which commit rich and poor
countries to work together to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, ensure all
boys and girls complete primary school, promote gender equality, improve the
health of mothers and children, reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, protect the
environment, and create a global partnership for development by ensuring rich
countries give more and better aid, debt relief and trade opportunities to
poorer countries.

For further information:

For further information: Ciara O'Sullivan, Global Call to Action against
 Poverty (GCAP) Media Coordinator, +34-679-594-809, ciara_os@hotmail.com, 
www.whiteband.org; or Anand Kantaria, Global Media Coordinator, United Nations
 Millennium Campaign, +44-7908-230-165, Anand.kantaria@undp.org, 
www.endpoverty2015.org Web Site: http://www.standagainstpoverty.org/

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