Sunday, May 6, 2012

'1.4 Billion Reasons'

This article was written for human rights website RightNow

Could you live on $2 a day?

Given a single morning coffee costs around twice that much, it is almost unimaginable for most of us. Yet 1.3 billion people – that’s almost 60 times the population of Australia – currently live in extreme poverty, on less than AUD$2 a day.

On Tuesday 1 May, at the Monash University Law Chambers, Paul Mason delivered 1.4 Billion Reasons, presented by Global Poverty Project in conjunction with the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. Although the World Bank recently lowered the total number of people living in extreme poverty from 1.4 billion to 1.3 billion, Mason insists the new data doesn’t lessen the need for engagement and action. Indeed, as people rise above the poverty line we should be even more inspired to see the possibility of a world without extreme poverty.

And while great progress has been made across Asia – helping to halve the rate of extreme poverty since 1981 – the number of people living below the line continues to grow in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mason is a young, but experienced and well-travelled, activist who exudes a fine balance of urgency, hope and empowerment. He traces his own interest in social justice back to his childhood in South Africa when, as a nine-year-old, he queued with his parents for hours while they waited to vote in the country’s first democratic election in 1994. The man elected President that day, Nelson Mandela, is an enduring inspiration for Mason, who summed up his view of this global challenge by quoting a speech Mandela made ahead of the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

Cont... Read the full article at RightNow

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