COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Mothers' Union helps to support debt campaign

The Jubilee Debt Campaign has harnessed the power of the million members of the Mothers' Union in the latest phase of its campaign for 100 per cent of world debt to be wiped out.

Members of the Mothers' Union and the Jubilee Debt Campaign will visit Buckingham Palace on 27 March to present the Queen with a Jubilee Debt Petition, calling for cancellation of debts owed by the world's poorest countries.

"We have this image of being tea-making women but we are campaigning at the very highest level," said Vicky Riseley, head of action and outreach at the Mothers' Union. She also points out that the organisation regularly consults with the United Nations.

The Jubilee Debt Petition has been signed by 118,000 people all over the world. Around half of the signatures have been collected by Mothers' Union members from 70 different countries with illiterate people placing thumbprints on the petition.

Many of the Mothers' Union members are based in the poorest countries of the world. Through a strong network of volunteers and staff, signatures have even been received from countries currently in the middle of conflict such as Angola and Sudan.

"We have a very active membership, particularly in Africa," said Riseley.

"Our members have really taken this to their heart as many are living in extreme poverty. The debt issue hits them hard."

She also explained that encouraging women in developing countries to sign a petition was a good way to encourage further development. "In many countries, women don't have a political voice - they have little access to their local political system," she said. "To be able to petition the Queen really empowers these people to campaign for their own civil rights."

In May, the Jubilee Debt Campaign will mark the fifth anniversary of the Birmingham human chain event that first raised the issue of Third World debt.

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