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International Women’s Day Oprah, Elton John, D’banj, Yemi Alade others join ONE Campaign’s call for global gender equality

A host of celebrities from around the globe have joined ONE to urge world leaders to put girls at the heart of their anti-poverty efforts.

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A host of celebrities from around the globe have joined ONE to urge world leaders to put girls at the heart of their anti-poverty efforts.

The call is contained in an open letter which has been signed by media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Elton John and Nigerian musicians, D’banj and Yemi Alade among others.

A press statement issued by ONE on the initiative reads:

Ahead of International Women’s Day, influential figures urge world leaders to act on promises to end extreme poverty faster by investing in girls and women.

New analysis in ONE’s 2016 Poverty is Sexist report ranks the toughest countries in which to be born a girl, with Niger topping the list, followed by Somalia and Mali. Compared to their brothers, girls here have less education, lack access to opportunities, such as opening a bank account, and are less likely to get paid work when they grow up.

Sixteen of the 20 countries that top the list are found in Africa, making it imperative for African leaders to fast-track efforts in improving women’s development.

2016 offers two major political opportunities to make a difference for girls and women and to kick start progress towards achieving the end of extreme poverty: the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Nutrition for Growth Summit.

These are crucial moments for nutrition and health because 40 per cent of women in Africa suffer from anaemia, which results in 20 per cent of maternal deaths – and girls account for 74 per cent of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa. Smart investments in the Global Fund and Nutrition for Growth will make significant headway against these diseases, and targeting girls and women will ensure a maximum return on investment.

The ONE Campaign’s Poverty is Sexist report also calls for policies that ensure legal equality for all and increased access to safe and reliable energy, which will particularly benefit girls and women. There must also be concerted efforts to connect everyone to the internet and further ensure that governments, businesses and civil society open up their own data so the public are able to see and account for progress towards achieving the Global Goals indicators.

ONE’s open letter, signed by numerous influential figures, including Selmor Mtukudzi, Vanessa Mdee, Victoria Kimani, Amy Poehler, Danai Gurira, Angelique Kidjo, Shonda Rhimes, Jessie J, Colin Farrell and Robert Redford shows the incredible strength of feeling across the global community for leaders to step up for girls and women everywhere.


ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign 2016 launches on International Women’s Day and will run throughout the year. ONE will work in close partnership with organisations engaged on thematic issues, and on gender, to make sure that investments targeted towards girls and women deliver the empowerment and equality needed.

The Poverty is Sexist campaign invites everyone who cares about gender injustice globally to sign on to the open letter and take action in support of girls and women throughout the year:one.org/letter

Nachilala Nkombo, acting Executive Director of ONE Africa said:

“ONE’s Poverty is Sexist report shows that the 20 toughest places to be born a girl are also among the poorest places on the planet. Until leaders tackle the injustices that pervade the lives of girls and women and invest in fighting poverty, half of the world’s resources will remain untapped and social and economic progress for everyone will be constrained.

This year governments around the world have the opportunity to step up in historic ways to fund replenishments at the Nutrition for Growth and the Global Fund. Investing in nutrition and health is essential for both women and girls and the fight against extreme poverty. “

Yemi Alade said:

"We live in a world where women and girls are most disadvantaged by extreme poverty - where being born female guarantees you the raw deal. Socially, economically, legally – girls and women living in the poorest countries get a raw deal simply because they are born female. Every day, in every corner of the world, they are stopped from reaching their full potential. That is why I was part of ONE’s Strong Girl campaign and that is why I continue to join other leaders to raise my voice today .”

D’banj said:

“Think about the world we’d live in if more girls had the chance to grow up to be empowered women. Where all women went to school, were not forced into early marriages, where they had real opportunity. Extreme poverty is choking the potential of generations of young women in the developing world. Poverty is sexist. It hits girls and women harder than it does boys and men, creating a real urgency that world leaders must address. Women need to be empowered in areas such as agriculture and healthcare, so that they can contribute their best to the development of Nigeria. Women need better access to land, inputs, and better maternal healthcare, among others.  That’s why I’m raising my voice and asking others to do the same."

Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-Winning Artist and Activist said:

"The future of Africa is in the hands of its young women. If they are educated, they will educate their communities. If they are healthy, they will ensure others grow up healthy. If they are empowered, they will change the world. We can break the cycle of poverty, but we have to invest in girls and women to do it."

Sir Elton John, Founder, The Elton John AIDS Foundation said:

"Three out of every four adolescents in Africa who contract HIV are girls, and on average, women in sub-Saharan Africa who contract HIV will do so five to seven years earlier than men. It’s heart-breaking. Stopping the spread of HIV will mean doing more to protect girls and young women. The Global Fund is doing powerful work helping treat and prevent AIDS and deserves expanded support from world leaders. We have the chance to stop HIV/AIDS in our lifetime, and we need to raise our voices now to make sure it happens."

Read the open letter below:

IWD Open Letter Final With Signers v5 3.6.16 3pmet.pdf

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