Top ONE headlines of 2019

2019 was a busy news year for ONE. We faced major threats to the work that we do, including foreign aid cuts, inequality, and global health crises. But in the face of all these challenges, we used all the tools at our disposal. The result? Big steps that made big headlines.

Here are some of the top headlines from this year:

A historic global health pledge

As world leaders met in France for the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, French President Emmanuel Macron told delegates “no one will leave Lyon without us having the $14 billion.”

In a historic moment, he was proven right. The Global Fund reached its US$14 billion pledge, making it the largest replenishment for a multilateral health organisation.

This record-breaking moment happened in the closing minutes. President Macron, the Gates Foundation, and Bono raised their initial pledges to meet the goal during the replenishment period.

From actor to activist

What happens when activists take over a reality show to talk about health advocacy? The answer, it turns out, is something pretty incredible.

In October, ONE joined the cast of “Big Brother Naija” to talk about Huwe, a federal health programme that provides basic health services. The housemates were challenged to come up with a plan for implementing Huwe, with model, entrepreneur, and actor, Seyi Awolowo winning the challenge.

Seyi, who came in 3rd place on the show, is now a full-fledged ONE Ambassador. He will be travelling to the 2020 United Nations General Assembly so he can advocate for healthcare access in Nigeria.

“I am very happy to officially join ONE’s advocacy efforts in Nigeria,” said Seyi. “It’s been great to meet the team and learn more about the organization’s work … I look forward to adding my voice to this effort.”

A mother speaks up about HIV

During the 1990s, Connie Mudenda mothered three children in her home nation of Zambia. Due to the lack of information about HIV at the time, she did not know that she and her children were HIV positive. She lost all three of her children to the disease.

Since learning of her diagnosis, Connie has been receiving treatment, and the virus is not detectable in her blood. 16 years after her diagnosis, her daughter Lubona was born HIV-negative.

Connie, a (RED) Ambassador, stood among the world leaders and philanthropists at the Global Fund Replenishment. She shared her story to encourage donors to increase their financial commitments so that the Global Fund can continue its life-saving work.

“Personally, I am dependent on the medication,” she says. “I am healthy right now because of the medication, and if that is taken away from me, I will not be able to live long and to see my baby grow.”

Signed, 45 gender equality activists

Ahead of International Women’s Day, 45 African activists from across 15 countries contributed to an open letter. This letter urges world leaders to make progress on gender equality. Without immediate action, it will take 108 years for the world to achieve this goal.

This letter, signed by over 100,000 people, made its way to leaders across the globe. Through petition hand-ins and our own Gender7, we made it clear that we can’t end extreme poverty and preventable diseases without also achieving equality.

Changing the meaning of “making headlines”

What might the world’s headlines look like on the day we achieve gender equality? This simple question led to a big moment — a women-led panel called the Gender 7.

This panel, held at the Women Deliver conference in June, gathered seven women from across the world to discuss the issues that are preventing us from achieving equality and pose solutions on how to address those issues. Ultimately, these activists painted a picture of what the world might look like when we achieve gender equality.

One of these activists, Dr. Joannie Marlene Bewa, wrote an article ahead of the event. In it, she outlines her work as a doctor advocating for reproductive health and HIV awareness, why she’s advocating for gender equality, and why world leaders need to take action.

A call to action for equality

Aya Chebbi, pan-African feminist and the African Union’s first youth envoy, has been in the fight for gender equality for a long time. Over the past 10 years, she’s advocated for women and girls through cyber-activism to shed light on the issues they’re facing.

She’s continuing her work as an activist today, online and in person. Ahead of the G7 Summit, she wrote this op-ed to tell world leaders why legislation for gender equality is crucial.

Making sure aid works

Aid ultimately has one objective: provide assistance to those who need it. This year, we created a Real Aid Index to see how well the United Kingdom is doing to achieve that goal with their aid budget.

The tool takes a close look at five government departments and top aid programmes to see how much of that aid actually focuses on poverty. On top of that, it looks at whether the use of that aid is effective and transparent. The index reveals that billions of pounds are not targeting poverty.

“This index shows that while most UK aid does exactly what it’s meant to, some parts of government need to up their game,” says Romilly Greenhill, ONE’s UK director. “If they’re spending aid which doesn’t bring real change for people in poverty, should it really be called aid at all?”

Changing finance to end poverty

In 2015, the governments of the world set an ambitious goal to eradicate poverty and preventable diseases by 2030. We currently have a decade remaining to achieve this goal, and we’re massively off track.

David McNair, ONE’s executive director for global policy, knows quite a bit about development. He’s an expert on how governments should be spending money to improve development. Right now, there are a few ways that we’re falling behind — domestic resources in Africa are declining, low-income countries are facing more debt, and aid is flatlining, to name a few issues.

In his op-ed, David outlines why some of these issues are happening, and provides some steps to improve them.


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