Action2015: young people around the world demand change on poverty and inequality

Picture: Facebook/action2015

Young people around the world took part in events today to mark the launch of action/2015 – a global campaign to eradicate poverty, address inequality and discrimination and halt man-made climate change.

The coalition of more than 1000 organisations in over 120 countries said almost one billion extra people face a life of extreme poverty if world leaders duck key decisions at two summits later this year.

Poverty and discrimination are major obstacles to children going to school, with 58 million currently not receiving a primary education. Education for all is also central to tackling the three key themes of action/2015.

Events, including rallies and marches, took place today in more than 50 countries – from Lebanon and Liberia to Nigeria and Norway to South Africa and Sri Lanka. Many were spearheaded by 15-year-olds, an age group that will be among the most affected if action is not taken.

Action 2015 event run by Pakistan Development Alliance

Many famous names are backing action/2015, including education campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. She said today: “People globally want an end to injustice, poverty and illiteracy. Our world is interconnected and youth are ready and mobilised more than ever to see real change take place.

“Together, we are demanding our leaders take action in 2015 and we must all do our part. I will continue to work tirelessly to call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality primary and secondary education for every child.

“That is my goal and I hope that my voice will be heard as it is the voice of millions of children who want to go to school.”

The #UpForSchool Petition – led by youth and organised by A World at School – is already calling on world leaders to keep to their promise made in 2000 that all children would receive a primary education by the end of 2015.

Dozens of high-profile activists – from Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Bono to Ben Affleck, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mo Ibrahim – have backed the coalition, whose members include Amnesty International and Save The Children.

But they are also supported by a movement of young people around the world. Some met UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon at an action/2015 event in New York today.

In Nigeria, child rights activist Maryam, who will turn 15 this year. said: “My generation might not be the ones making decisions today but we will be the ones to make sure that our leaders take full responsibility for the actions they take this year.

“I and thousands like me are demanding they make the right choices, because our future is at stake. We ask that they make choices which are dictated by the needs of future generations and not choices that are dictated by short-term politics.”

A new calculation released by the action/2015 coalition shows that, even using relatively conservative scenarios, the number of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 a day – could be reduced dramatically from over a billion to 360 million by 2030.

About 4% of the global population would live in extreme poverty – compared to 17% today – if critical policy choices on inequality, poverty investment and climate change are made this year and implemented thereafter.

Action/2105 said: “However, if leaders fail to deliver and build on the growing momentum for ambitious deals at the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December, and scale back their efforts, the number of people living in extreme poverty could actually increase to 1.2 billion by 2030.

“This increase would be the first in a generation (since 1993) and almost a billion higher (886million) than if resolute action is taken. Under this scenario one in three of the world’s population would live on under $2 a day.”

Make your voice heard – demand that all children get an education without danger or discrimination by signing the #UpForSchool Petition.

And click here to learn more about action/2015.