MUNICH – On June 6, 2015, anti-poverty activists mobilized at the G7 Summit in Munich. The crowd called on G7 leaders to end extreme poverty by 2030. The demonstration consisted of about 5,000 activists, including participants like Bono, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Campaign groups have continually advocated for an increased focus on poverty eradication at G7’s international development conferences. Although the goal of pledging .7% of GNI to development aid was set more than 40 years ago, only five countries have actually followed through with implementation.
Speaking on behalf of ONE, an international advocacy organization, European executive director Adrian Lovett pointed out that only one third of aid is currently going to the least developed countries. Groups like ONE are fighting to bring that number up to a full half of aid allotted to those living on less than $1.20 a day.
Elvira Meiboom, an ambassador for ONE, walked twenty-one miles to attend the rally—without shoes on. She hoped her effort would help symbolize the every-day struggles of the world’s poorest, explaining that “in Africa some people walk 6 kilometers every day just to get water”.
Meiboom stood alongside other activists advocating for more money and more transparency from G7 leaders. Other female voices stood out as some of the loudest from the crowd. They highlighted improved focus on women’s empowerment as a major poverty-fighting mechanism.
In fact, 250 ONE youth ambassadors called on leaders to place women’s empowerment at the heart of global development. This goal is one of the major tenants of ONE’s ‘Poverty is Sexist’ campaign, which is currently backed by some of the world’s most powerful women.
These activists represent every G7 country, hailing from Germany, France, Italy, The UK, The US, Canada, and Japan. In this way, they embody the full spectrum of potential donors whose help is so desperately needed by the least developed countries of this world.
Participants employed tactics like showcasing large balloon heads of G7 leaders, and sporting masks with leaders’ printed faces. Symbols such as these were used to push the leaders to produce more than just hot air, and to be more accountable to the world’s poorest countries.
Other major poverty-related issues were brought to the attention of G7 leaders, including needed improvements in the global health and education systems. Specifically, donor countries were criticized for not contributing actively enough in their development partnerships with Africa.
In today’s day and age, such issues most often have viable solutions. In fact, 2015 represents a major year for international development. Decisive action must be taken in order to follow through with plans to replace the Millennium Development Goals with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals in September.
G7 leaders are rightfully being called on to harness their power in the effort to end poverty. As leaders of the world’s richest countries, they maintain a collective responsibility to alleviate the global burden of extreme poverty. With the fifteen-year mark now brought to the table, only time will tell if they will finally follow through.
– Sarah Bernard