OCTOBER 17th – The Fight Against Poverty

October 17, 2006, marks the end of the United Nations Decade of Eradicating Poverty, 1997 – 2006.

The World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1992. The day was first celebrated in 1987 by thousands of participants at the Human Rights Plaza in Paris, France.

Since its creation, October 17th has been a day for those living in extreme poverty to speak out and for all citizens to consider how they can contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty. The 2006 theme of the United Nations for the International day for poverty eradication is Working Together out of Poverty

The October 17th message is: Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty. (F. Joseph Wresinski)

Recently, Bono from the band U2 brought a little star power to a new anti-poverty campaign. The ONE Campaign is a global effort to help wipe out poverty in Africa. http://www.one.org

ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans – ONE by ONE – to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is students and ministers, punk rockers and NASCAR moms, Americans of all beliefs and every walk of life, united as ONE to help make poverty history. ONE believes that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the world’s poorest countries. ONE also calls for debt cancellation, trade reform and anti–corruption measures in a comprehensive package to help Africa and the poorest nations beat AIDS and extreme poverty.

Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus celebrates with his daughter Dina

Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank have been jointly awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. Yunus, an economist, founded the bank, which is one of the pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor, especially women, in Bangladesh.

Mr. Yunus, 66, said he would use the 10m Swedish kronor ($1.35m, £730,000) prize money to find more innovative ways to help the poor launch businesses.

He said he was delighted at the news and proud of the bank’s achievement.

I‘m very very happy. It’s a great honor for us and for Bangladesh. It’s a recognition of our work, he told the BBC Bengali service.

As a Bangladeshi, I’m proud that we have given something to the world. Our work has now been recognized by the whole world.

Surprise choice

The winners were revealed by the Nobel committee chairman, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, in Oslo.

Mr. Mjoes said Mr. Yunus had shown himself to be a leader who had managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people.

He and the bank were being honored for their efforts to create economic and social development from below, Mr. Mjoes said.

He said the bank’s work in creating opportunities for large numbers of people to get out of poverty created the conditions for sustainable peace.

Development such as this is useful in human rights and democracy, said Mr. Mjoes.

The BBC’s Lars Bevanger in Oslo says this years winner caught most there by surprise.

Many commentators had expected an award to someone involved in peace talks, our correspondent says.

He says in awarding this prize to an economist, the Nobel Committee has again shown itself willing to widen the scope of the prestigious prize.

Mr. Yunus set up the bank in 1976 with just $27 from his own pocket. Thirty years on, the bank has 6.6 million borrowers, of which 97% are women, according to the Grameen website.

Mr. Yunus is expected to pick up the award and prize money during a ceremony in Oslo in December. (Yanus story: BBC)

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