ONE Members and Africa superstars unite against gender inequality at AU Summit

ONE Members and Africa superstars unite against gender inequality at AU Summit

ONE Members and “Strong Girl” superstars Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde (Nigeria), Selmor Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Yemi Alade (Nigeria), Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania) and Blessing (South Africa) joined forces at the 25th African Union Summit 2015 held in South Africa to raise their voices against injustices affecting girls and women across the world.

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Youth making music on xylophones at the Women Food Climate Festival during the AU Summit in South Africa.

 

On a warm autumn day, festival goers brought their picnic baskets and joined us for a spectacular afternoon of musical performances at Mushroom Farm Park in Sandton, South Africa at the Women | Food | Climate Festival hosted by Oxfam, ONE and other partners on the margins of the AU Summit.

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Musicians Selmor Mtukudzi and Blessing perform “Strong Girl” live on stage to festival goers in Sandton.

 

Singers Selmor Mtukudzi and Blessing owned the stage, wowing audiences with a fantastic performance of “Strong Girl”, ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign song that popularises the AU’s theme of Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063.

It’s a shame that today women and girls in the developing world face many challenges and injustices across all aspects of life with a ton of social, economic and political barriers that deny them opportunities to progress. Poverty is Sexist is ONE’s global campaign that responds to this. It aims to influence the new development agenda to eliminate these types of gender inequalities in the next 15 years. At ONE, we have been urging African leaders to lead the way with a clear set of policy commitments and actions in their declaration at the 25th AU Summit, focused on the empowerment of African girls and women.

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ONE Campaign’s Carla Walker gets new Poverty is Sexist petition signatures at the AU Summit event in Sandton, South Africa.

 

Outfitted with petition boards, ONE Members in Johannesburg led this push on the ground by talking to public about the campaign and collecting many signatures for our petition on gender and poverty. These signatures were added to the calls of more than 1 MILLION of you from around the world lobbying global leaders to refocus the development agenda so that girls and women are at its centre.

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Poverty is Sexist supporters pose for a fun strengthie with ONE’s turtle mascot, standing in solidarity #WithStrongGirls across the world.

 

With a giant green turtle mascot in tow, ONE Members also encouraged people to pose for strengthies – which is a rolled and raised fist – symbolising solidarity for girls and women’s empowerment. Globally, thousands of people posted images of their strengthies as a way of lending support. Take a look at some of the powerful #WithStrongGirls photos here!

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ONE Members and Ulrich Janse van Vuuren strike a strengthie pose at the Women Food Climate AU Summit Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

The next stop was Soweto, where we partnered with All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) and Africa Union Commission (AUC) for a special AU Summit plenary session and cocktail evening to commemorate Day of the African Child and to launch ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign song, “Strong Girl” in South Africa.

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Youth make their voices heard at the Day of the African Child commemoration in Soweto, South Africa.

 

The event held at Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square, Soweto, South Africa took place under the theme “Ending Child Marriages”. Among the VIP delegates were South Africa’s Minister of Social Development, Ms. Bathabile Dlamini; Director of Social Affairs of the AUC, Ambassador Olawale Maiyegun; Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the AU, Jane Okello; and Commissioner, Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistics Communities, Sheila T. Khama.

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Nigeria superstar and ONE “Strong Girl” ambassador, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde speaks up for women’s empowerment at the Day of the African Child plenary session in Soweto, South Africa.

 

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde – Africa superstar and ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign ambassador – took part on the plenary session panel of an intergenerational dialogue on the theme. Social media was buzzing the moment she said: “Every female, this is your year. It is up to us to make our voices heard!”

In a powerful plea, Omotola called on AU dignitaries, youth and attendees at the event to take out their smartphones right that moment and sign the Poverty is Sexist petition – which contributed to many more signatures!

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Top Africa female musicians Vanessa Mdee, Yemi Alade and Selmor Mtukudzi perform “Strong Girl” live at Freedom Square in Soweto, South Africa.

 

Our lobbying and outreach activities were wrapped up at the cocktail where top African female musicians Yemi Alade, Selmor Mtukudzi and AFRIMA 2014 winner Vanessa Mdee set the stage on fire in Soweto with a live performance, officially launching ONE’s “Strong Girl” song and music video in South Africa.

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A star-studded strengthie with ONE Members, Yemi Alade, Vanessa Mdee, Selmor Mtukudzi and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde!

 

We are delighted to share that our leaders pledged to create more opportunities for women to thrive and reach their full potential in line with our advocacy asks. Leaders say yes to our call for women’s empowerment!

 

*Photographs: Mike Turner

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