In this installment of our Meet our Volunteers series, we spoke with Jaly from Senegal and Luca from Italy about why they’re fighting for gender equality.
“Being a girl or a woman must no longer be an obstacle to education, higher education, personal and professional development,” explains Jaly, who is a social media activist and consultant in Dakar, Senegal. She’s been a ONE Champion since March 2019.
For Luca — a ONE Youth Ambassador studying in Milan, Italy — gender equality has always been one of the main pillars of his family. That’s why he firmly believes that none of us are equal until all of us are equal.
Read on for more about their activism around gender equality, their involvement in fighting for global health, and why they’re involved with ONE.
Why or how did you get involved with ONE?
Jaly: I got involved with ONE because the organization’s objectives are in line with my advocacy actions in favour of the promotion of women’s rights, girls’ access to — and retention in — school, poverty reduction, and the promotion of civic action.
As a ONE Champion in Senegal, I have already participated in a food security forum that brought together people in the Senegalese agro-pastoral sector to discuss the achievements but also the challenges ahead. I also participated in offline action for the promotion of the petition launched for the criminalization of rape in Senegal. This action made it possible to raise awareness on ONE’s work amongst students of the University of Dakar and it allowed us to recruit new members.
Luca: I have always been an active citizen willing to fight for a better world. I first heard about ONE thanks to the director of my bachelor’s course in international politics. I then asked other university colleagues who had already been Youth Ambassadors to share their personal experiences and their enthusiasm convinced me right away to proceed with the Youth Ambassador application.
Moreover, I realized I fully shared the values and goals of the organization, and I felt this could be the occasion to practically and effectively contribute in the fundamental struggle against extreme poverty and global inequalities.
What’s been your proudest moment as a volunteer with ONE so far?
Jaly: As a ONE Champion I was very proud to participate in the great mobilization for the criminalization of rape in Senegal. Being one of the organisers of this demonstration made it possible for me to hand over a memorandum to women MPs so that a law criminalizing rape could be passed. I was satisfied with the support of all the champions as well as the ONE team, especially for communication and mobilization.
Luca: In the last nine months, there have been many satisfactory moments which my experience with ONE gave me. The proudest moment was probably the statement made by Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who announced the increase of Italy’s contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to €161 million during this year’s G7 in Biarritz.
This has been a real point of pride for us Youth Ambassadors who have been campaigning on the Global Fund all year. This amount exceeded our expectations as it represented an increase of 16% compared to the previous three-year period, and was even higher than what we asked the Prime Minister back in March, when we met his Diplomatic Advisor Piero Benassi at Palazzo Chigi, President Conte’s official residence. I realised how our passionate advocacy and campaigning, together with the reputation and credibility that ONE has at a national and international level, can have a tangible and long-term effect when it comes to shaping policymaker’s decisions and therefore in improving the world’s wellbeing.
How important is it for you to defend gender equality in your activism?
Jaly: For me it is not only important but essential that gender equality becomes a reality in Senegal and around the world. Being a girl or a woman must no longer be an obstacle to education, higher education, personal and professional development because we constitute more than 50% of Senegal’s population and no country has developed without more than half of its human resources. Achieving gender equality is a sustainable development challenge.
I was born in a family where gender equality has always been one of the main pillars. My mother has been a feminist activist for decades and has taught me how gender equality is a crucial base needed to build almost any kind of social progress.
ONE has further expanded my view as I have learnt how, in areas of the world where inequality and extreme poverty affect people’s lives, gender mainstreaming can significantly increase the efficacy and horizontal equity of any policy and measure. Take, for example, the measures aimed at reducing the spread of malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis. Determining access to treatment based on gender decreases the efficacy of the intervention and can contribute to reinforcing a patriarchal culture.
I firmly believe that none of us are equal until all of us are equal!
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