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250 youth activists call on world leaders to level the playing field for women and girls in developing countries

Paris, 1st June 2016 – Just days ahead of the Euro 2016 football tournament in Paris, 250 Youth Ambassadors for The ONE Campaign from across Europe and Africa recreated a giant football pitch at La Défense, the business centre of the French capital, to highlight that ‘Poverty is Sexist’ and that world leaders must level the playing field for girls and women in developing countries.

A huge “human” soccer field in the middle of Paris

As many football fans from all over the world look to Paris for Euro 2016, ONE Youth Ambassadors seized the opportunity to bring their message to the world – timing their call as international political leaders gathered at the OECD Forum a few kilometers away.

Representing 50 nationalities and travelling from Nigeria and seven European countries, the 250 ONE Youth Ambassadors recreated a giant football pitch on synthetic turf measuring 700 square metres, highlighting that this is a game they are playing to win. They deployed a huge banner in the centre-spot, displaying their message to the representatives of some of the world’s richest countries meeting at the OECD Forum: “Poverty is sexist. Level the playing field for women and girls”.

As ONE’s Poverty is Sexist report shows, poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand. Today, 62 million girls are still denied access to education, three in four adolescents in Africa who contract HIV are girls, and a woman in Sierra Leone is 183 times more likely to die while giving birth than a woman in Switzerland. Focusing efforts on girls and women is key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and investing in them lifts everyone out of poverty more quickly.

“The proportion of people worldwide living in extreme poverty declined by 66% between 1990 and 2012, in part due to aid. We are two-thirds of the way towards finishing the job. But this will be possible only if world leaders invest in girls and women as a priority” said Youth Ambassador Margaux Teuliere, 24.

Youth Ambassadors meet with international political leaders

From 31 May to 2 June, the unique ONE Summit brought together hundreds of young campaigners who used the opportunity of the OECD annual Forum to help end extreme poverty.

Last year, world leaders made an ambitious but achievable promise to end extreme poverty by 2030 by signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals. Now it is time to turn words into actions. The OECD Forum will see ministers and delegates from more than 40 countries, including some of the richest in the world, convene to discuss major global issues, including how to achieve this promise.

During this Summit, they met with multiple international political leaders including French Foreign Affairs minister, the Minister for Development and Trade of the Netherlands, the Minister for Development from Slovenia and representatives for Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Australia.

They also met OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurría, the Chair of the Committee for Development, Erik Solheim, and Pascal Saint Amans, Director of the Tax Centre, at the OECD.

Adrian Lovett, interim CEO of ONE, said:

“This young generation can and will be the first to see the end of extreme poverty. From Lagos to Paris, via Berlin, Rome, Brussels, The Hague, Dublin and London, the passion and the drive of ONE Youth Ambassadors is impressive. World leaders cannot ignore their call.”

A major opportunity in 2016

In their meetings with leaders the young Ambassadors put forward specific demands for the changes they want to see in the world.

One of the first major opportunities for leaders to show that they’re serious about ending extreme poverty and ending global gender inequality is the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Montreal this September. AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 44 on the planet. Protecting girls and women from deadly diseases such as HIV and malaria requires world leaders to strengthen their support for the Global Fund, which estimates that more than 60 percent of its investments specifically support girls and women.

ONE Youth Ambassadors call on OECD leaders to announce as soon as possible their financial commitment to this organisation in order to enable it to save an additional 8 million lives over the next three years.


Thanks to Magic Garden for the delivering this amazing stunt and Defacto for their support.