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3 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Commonwealth Day

In case you haven’t heard, today is Commonwealth Day! Held every year on the second Monday of March, this day is an opportunity to celebrate the Commonwealth and its shared values of democracy, equality, and peace for all of its people.

The Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 countries, extends over six continents, and includes the world’s biggest, smallest, richest, and poorest countries. With a total population of 2.4 billion, it gives a unified voice to about a third of the world’s population.

This year, the leaders of every country in the Commonwealth will be meeting in London in April, for the Commonwealth Summit. Global Citizen is calling on these leaders to take action on some of the most pressing issues in the world today — issues like gender equality, global health, nutrition, and education access.

Take action: Call on the Commonwealth to Tackle Gender Inequality, Poverty, and Disease

You can find out all about our campaign aims here and about how you can get involved and take action to earn free tickets to see Emeli Sandé, Professor Green, Naughty Boy, and Gabrille Aplin, in London in April. 

So, even if you are not a member of the Commonwealth, here are three reasons why you should definitely be celebrating today.

1. The Commonwealth is one big, inclusive family

via GIPHY

Although many Commonwealth nations were formerly in the British empire, their association in the Commonwealth is free and voluntary with each country recognized as an equal member. 

Although member nations have differences in cultures, religions, and languages, they and their people, are united in their shared values and aspirations, enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. These include a strong commitment to democracy, human rights, shared prosperity, and rule of law. Even cooler, the Commonwealth’s 2018 theme is "Towards a Common Future," and it's all about working together to address the most pressing issues in the world today — including to end extreme poverty.

Now, who can’t get down to that?

2. It’s empowering young people

via GIPHY

Some 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30, which is roughly 1.4 billion people. Because of this the Commonwealth has smartly focused much of its resources on championing youth. It has a Commonwealth Youth Council which gives youth a unified voice and empowers them to advocate for greater representation of youth throughout governments and societies. 

Here’s what several Commonwealth youth have to say:

“In a world where inequality and instability are increasing, it is the Commonwealth's approach to including every small and big nation together, a genuine understanding of equal rights, and giving fair value and respect to each individual that makes the Commonwealth inclusive for me.”
India - Mridul Upadhyay

“Like you, my date of birth, my national identity, and the orientation of my sexuality, influences my uniqueness. In my inclusive Commonwealth, such diversity is celebrated, participation and equal opportunities facilitated, and accessibility created.”
Trinidad and Tobago - Khadija Holder

“An inclusive Commonwealth is about being given a platform to participate regardless of who are you are or where you’ve come from and to be considered as a significant member of a community.”
Zambia - Mercy Zulu

3. It’s kicking polio’s butt

via GIPHY

Commonwealth member countries pledged to end polio forever at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2011. Since then, the results have been spectacular. 

Polio, which was once ravaged the whole world, has now been 99.9% eradicated. The infectious disease is endemic in just three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In 2017, there were just 22 cases of wild polio in the whole world. In the run-up to CHOGM 2018, polio is one of the key issues that Global Citizen is campaigning on, calling on world leaders to stamp out this horrible disease once and for all. 

Polio is an amazing example of everything that the Commonwealth can achieve when it unites in a common goal — regardless of national interests and country borders. 

And that’s why we should all celebrate Commonwealth Day!