In 2019 everything was on the line — and we held the line.
So much of what we care about was on the line last year. We faced some major roadblocks as we kept on fighting to build the world we want to see — one where everyone, everywhere can lead a life of dignity and opportunity.
The world has made massive progress in reducing poverty, but extreme poverty in Africa is rising, and inequality is increasing across the globe. Over the years, multilateral cooperation has yielded huge gains for sustainable development. But much of the world is now turning inward. Our imperative in 2019 was to make sure that the world’s decision-makers made the right choices.
With over 800 young women in sub-Saharan Africa contracting HIV every single day (newsflash: AIDS is still a crisis), we committed in 2019 to campaign to mobilize US$14 billion for the Global Fund, the world’s biggest funder in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We knew it would be a tall order for governments to meet their targets, but with 16 million lives at stake, failure was not an option.
The ONE team — along with our supporters, activists and (RED) — ran a global campaign, relentlessly urging governments to support the fight against these diseases. In a real test of political leadership, the result was astonishing: not only was the US$14 billion target met, but almost every country we campaigned in increased its pledge by 15% or more. (RED) Ambassador Constance (Connie) Mudenda shared the inspiring story of her fight against AIDS and how she was able to access treatment and raise a healthy daughter, thanks to the Global Fund. The fight continued right up to the last minute, with (RED) upping its pledge and President Macron, Bill Gates, and Bono committing to raise the last US$200 million in the final push to reach the target. A huge victory for humanity.
We also scored some big wins in the fight for stronger political leadership on development and accountability on aid and other development finance — driven in a big way by our dedicated activists. When the White House tried to cut US$4 billion in foreign aid already approved by Congress, we flooded key congressional offices with hundreds of calls and emails and worked behind the scenes to ensure the reversal of the decision.
In Nigeria we launched the #VoteYourFuture campaign, which mobilized thousands of young Nigerians to campaign for their solutions to the country’s most pressing challenges ahead of the general election. During the European elections, our European activists lobbied candidates and Members of the European Parliament to sign on as champions in the fight against extreme poverty.
In the UK, our Real Aid Campaign pressed for aid quantity and quality, and focused public attention on the importance of ODA, even as Brexit debates and planning dominated the stage. In Senegal, where public outcry was sparked by serious, violent attacks on young women, ONE collaborated with Senegalese rapper Black Queen, as well as other grassroots organizations and activists, to push the government to criminalize sexual violence.
Progress on these fronts was not matched by progress on global gender equality, however. The ONE team was out in force throughout the year to showcase and support African women on the frontlines of the fight for gender equality and influence the G7 to tackle the issue.
Despite the ambitious declarations that were made on gender equality, education, digital inclusion and a revitalized partnership with Africa, G7 leaders failed to commit the necessary political capital, new policies and financial resources needed to yield tangible progress for real people.
We cannot afford to wait 108 more years to achieve real gender equality. And we won’t.
The Global Fund campaign showed us what’s possible when the world comes together. We need more of this, and fast. In 2020, we’re ready to fight for more. It’s going to be — and must be — a good year, a time to think the unthinkable, challenge those in power and set the stage for the next decade.
As we embark on a new year, be sure to go (RED) and to join the ONE team, supporters, activists, board members, staff and friends for the fight against injustice and inequality.