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"Create the Community of Peoples and Nations that We Need" ~ Marta Benavides

Speaking at the The World We Want People's Voices Series in New York on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, GCAP co-chair Marta Benavides called on all members of society to “work together to create the community of peoples and nations that we need.”

But first, she argued, the peoples of the North and South must recognise that modern poverty is rooted in the history of colonialism and exploitation.

“We need to decolonise the processes . . . I don't want a better world,” Benavides argues, “I want a different world order, but that can only happen if we have the Economic, Social and Cultural rights of people. People have dignity. We are not asking for handouts.”

“I am not against anything, not even against poverty” Benavides adds. “but I am for Life. We have made a decision to live, the peoples of the world and that's the reason that I am here: to be a witness to how people can be resilient . . . and adapt to everything that you are asking us to do. We have been doing it since Columbus got lost.”

Benavides, who is from El Salvador and a leading member of the Feminist Task Force, was elected co-chair of GCAP at the 2010 Global Assembly. One of 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, Benavides has devoted her life to 'manifesting a culture of peace' and social transformation.

“I come from a country where I have experienced war and we are still having it. We have organised crime – seventeen people – especially young people, young women and rural peoples – are being killed in the countryside every day. At least seventeen.”

El Salvador's civil war ended in the early 1990s, but the nation is still not at peace. Benavides argues that the international community has a responsiblility and role to play.

“The UN is a precious instrument, but it can not be for show and for cosmetic things. It has to be for real things. If it is for peace and real development, it has to also be for real security.”

Benavides notes that two key UN agencies – NGLS and UNESCO – are currently under-funded. NGLS, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service – is an interagency UN programme to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society. UNESCO encourages international peace, poverty eradication and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration between nations.

During the 17 October discussion, which was broadcast live on The World We Want 2015 website, Benavides shared videos and stories of people from across the globe who have joined together in the month-long Leave No One Behind global mobilization.

Benavides also highlighted the need to focus on gender equality, calling discrimination “a robbery, not only against them and against the future, but of everybody in humanity.”

The panel discussion's tagline was "Hear me, See, me, Accept me".  Summing up civil society's call for a transformative development agenda, moderator John Hendra, a UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-WOMEN, added three itdeas to this phrase:

  • "Include me
  • Address what matters to me and
  • Address what discriminates against me."

Other speakers at the event included the UN Secretary-General's spcecial advisor on Post-2015, Amina Mohammed, ATD Fourth World's Maryann Broxton, Tom Thomas of the Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices in India and Sering Falu Njie, a deputy director of the UN Millennium Campaign.

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Watch the entire panel
or to jump to Marta Benavides' remarks, go to 16:00 and 1:04:00.