As critical AIDS conference approaches, Trudeau writes: “Poverty is Sexist”
OTTAWA — Responding to an open letter to world leaders by supporters of the ONE Campaign about how extreme poverty disproportionately impacts girls and women, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today wrote back: “I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist.”
Continuing, and noting Canada’s increased pledge to the fight against the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, the Prime Minister wrote: “Canada’s commitment to the Global Fund is the first step on a path toward a new global policy that prioritizes equal treatment of girls and women. Investing in health will enable girls and women to survive and flourish, including by making key contributions to ending extreme poverty for everyone.”
Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, Bono, George Stroumboulopoulos, Sir Elton John, Samantha Bee, Danai Gurira, and Meryl Streep were among nearly 100 high-profile signers of an open letter sent to world leaders on International Women’s Day in March. The letter declared poverty is sexist against girls and women and urged action to address it by, among other things, fully financing the Global Fund. Since then, more than 200,000 people — including nearly 20,000 Canadians — added their signatures to the letter.
Prime Minister Trudeau is the first world leader to respond.
Stuart Hickox, ONE’s national director in Canada, said:
“The influencers and activists who signed ONE’s letter back in March did so because they wanted to use their voices to help achieve important policy changes here in Canada and in the world’s other leading countries. Given his outspokenness on feminist issues, maybe it’s not surprising that Prime Minister Trudeau would respond to a letter about how poverty is sexist, but it’s actually a remarkable gesture, and one that he appears ready to match with policy actions. Prioritizing investments in girls and women is the key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of extreme poverty. As a Canadian, I’m proud to see the Prime Minister endorse this approach and commit to modernizing Canada’s aid programs to help implement it.”
Canada will host the fifth replenishment meeting of the Global Fund in Montreal in September, aiming to raise as much as $13 billion USD to finance the next three years of the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Global Fund is a public-partnership that pools the world’s resources to strategically invest in programs to end three epidemics. It is credited with saving 20 million lives to date.
AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 44 on the planet, and nearly 17,000 women of all ages are infected with HIV every week. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely as young men to be infected with HIV, and 700 young women contract it every day. ONE released a report in March detailing these and other ways that poverty is sexist.
The text of Prime Minister Trudeau’s letter:
Thank you for the letter you sent to me on International Women’s Day and for calling on world leaders to recognize the indisputable link between gender inequality and extreme poverty. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist.
Women and girls are less likely to get an education, more likely to be impoverished, and face greater risk of disease and poor health. I am grateful to groups like ONE, who work toward ending extreme poverty and gender inequality around the world, while also holding global leaders accountable.
I accept your challenge to lead. As a feminist, I know that women must be treated equally everywhere. That is why, as one of my first actions as Prime Minister, I named a gender balanced Cabinet. It is my hope that this will set an example for governments around the world.
The Government of Canada is taking another important and concrete step: we will host the Global Fund replenishment conference in Montreal in September. We have also raised our contribution by 20% to $785 million CDN.
Investing in the Global Fund – which fights HIVI AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis – is critical, particularly for young women, who account for a shocking 74% of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa. Canada’s increased investment means more mosquito nets and medicine, and greater access to treatment and therapy, all of which will help the Global Fund meet its ultimate goal of saving an additional eight million lives and averting an additional 300 million new infections by 2019.
This commitment could not come at a more important time. The world has a unique opportunity to make lasting progress. By fast-tracking investments and building global solidarity, we can bring an end to three devastating epidemics – HIVIAIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis – that have tragic and far-reaching impacts on the most vulnerable people around the world.
Canada’s commitment to the Global Fund is the first step on a path toward a new global policy that prioritizes equal treatment of girls and women. Investing in health will enable girls and women to survive and flourish, including by making key contributions to ending extreme poverty for everyone.
But no one leader can make this happen alone. Canada can play an important role, but we need other leaders around the world to step up, too. And that’s where you come in.
Please continue to use your voice to ask for more from all leaders around the world. Please ask them to come to the Global Fund Replenishment Conference with ambitious goals, investments, and innovations in support of girls and women everywhere.
And please know that your call has been heard and that the Government of Canada is taking action.
Thanks, and see you soon.
The text and signers of the original open letter:
Dear World Leaders,
Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere.
While the debate around this truth rages everywhere, girls and women living in extreme poverty – those often hit hardest by the injustice of gender inequality – have been left out of the conversation.
This must change. The fight for gender equity is global.
Some 62 million girls are denied the right to education. Half a billion women can’t read. 155 countries still have laws that discriminate against women.
Last year, you signed up to end extreme poverty, and because poverty is sexist, you promised to tackle the gender inequality that keeps people poor.
This year, there are a series of historic opportunities to test your commitment and to make meaningful progress by delivering:
- Funding in 2016 at the Nutrition for Growth and Global Fund Summits to help girls and women fight HIV and malnutrition, because it is an outrage that girls account for 74% of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa and 40% of women on the continent suffer from anaemia which results in 20% of maternal deaths;
- Policies which support female economic empowerment: access to electricity, connectivity, education and justice, so girls and women have the right to own property, start a business and decide when and whether to marry;
- Better data on the girls and women we can’t see, don’t know exist and therefore can’t yet deliver for.
International Women’s Day must be about advancing girls and women everywhere.
Ali Hewson, Founder, Edun and Nude
Alyse Nelson, President & CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership
Aminatou Sow, Digital Strategist, Co-Host, Call Your Girlfriend podcast
Amy Poehler, Producer, Actor and Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
Andrew Zimmern, Chef
Andrew Hozier-Byrne, Musician
Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-Winning Artist and Activist
Ann Friedman, Columnist, New York Magazine, Co-Host, Call Your Girlfriend podcast
Anna Loos, Actress
Anne V, Model
Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America
Anne Wizorek, Author, Consultant, Activist
Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
Arielle T, Singer and Activist
Asa, Singer, Songwriter and Musician
Bobby Shriver, Co-Founder, ONE and (RED)
Bono, Lead singer, U2 and Co-Founder of ONE and (RED)
Caitlin Moran, Journalist, Broadcaster and Author
Carey Lowell, Artist and Actress
Carolin Kebekus, Comedian
Charlize Theron, Founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and UN Messenger of Peace
Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour
Colin Farrell, Actor
Condoleezza Rice, Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Founding partner of RiceHadleyGates, LLC
Connie Britton, Emmy-Nominated Actress
D’Banj, Singer and Activist
Danai Gurira, Actor and Award-Winning Playwright
Derreck Kayongo, CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, Member of Executive Committee, Africa World Economic Forum
Sir Elton John, Founder, The Elton John AIDS Foundation
Emma Freud, Writer and Broadcaster
Emma Watson, Actor and UN WOMEN Global Goodwill Ambassador
Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
Femi Kuti, Musician
Gabriela, African Pop Star
George Stroumboulopoulos, Television and Radio Personality
Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
Helene Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative
Jeff Skoll, Social Entrepreneur, Founder & Chairman of the Skoll Foundation, Participant Media, Skoll Global Threats Fund, and Capricorn Investment Group
Jennifer Lopez, Entertainer, Entrepreneur and UN Advocate for Girls and Women
John Green, Author and YouTuber
Jude Kelly CBE
Judith Sephuma, South African Musician, Jazz and Gospel Artist
Kakenya Ntaiya, Founder & President, Kakenya Center for Excellence
Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Kathy Calvin, President & Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation
Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver
Laura Ling, Correspondent, Discovery Digital Networks
Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO & Co-Founder of FEED Projects
Lilly Singh, Comedian, Writer and YouTuber
Lonnie Ali, Wife of Muhammad Ali and Co-Founder of The Muhammad Ali Center
Luvvie Ajayi, Writer, Digital Strategist and Executive Director, The Red Pump Project
Mabel van Oranje, Initiator & Chair, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage
Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO, Salesforce
Maria Shriver, Award-Winning Journalist and Founder of Shriver Media
Marian Salzman, CEO, Havas PR
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
Mary J Blige, Artist and Activist
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Michele Sullivan, President, Caterpillar Foundation
Muhammad Ali, 3X World Heavyweight Champion and Global Humanitarian
Oprah Winfrey, Chairman & CEO, Oprah Media Group
Padma Lakshmi, Author and Host of Top Chef
Patricia Arquette, Actor and Activist
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
Rea Garvey, Musician
Robert Redford, Actor, Director and Environmental Activist
Rocky Dawuni, Grammy-Nominated International Music Star and Humanitarian Activist
Ruby Rose, Actress
Samantha Bee, Television Host, Comedian
Sarah Degnan Kambou, President, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Sean Parker, President of the Parker Foundation
Selmor Mtukudzi, Zimbabwean Musician
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
Sheryl WuDunn, Co-Author, Half the Sky and A Path Appears
Shonda Rhimes, Creator & CEO, Shondaland
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube
Tété, Singer and Songwriter
Thandie Newton, Actress
Tina Fey, Writer, Actress and Producer
Tina Brown, Founder & CEO, Tina Brown Live Media and Women in the World
Vanessa Mdee, Afro Pop Musician
Victoria Kimani, African Pop Artiste
Vincent Cassel, Actor, Director and Producer
Yemi Alade, International Award Winner “MAMA AFRICA”
ONE is a policy and advocacy organization of more than 7 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, the ONE Campaign raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.
ONE has offices in Ottawa, Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Abuja, and Johannesburg.