Though some have labeled 2016 “the worst,” like most years, it actually had its share of triumphs amid setbacks. From the very beginning, ONE came out swinging and landed many punches in the fight to help millions lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
In the spirit of the season, here is a look back on the best and worst of 2016—and the opportunities that await us in 2017:
BEST OF 2016:
- Transparency: This summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled to implement Dodd–Frank 1504, which requires companies that extract minerals, gas, and oil in foreign nations to report the fees they pay for access. Before the ruling, ONE and Oxfam America had submitted a joint petition to the SEC with 116,000 signatures, along with more than 300 letters from ONE members. In addition, the SEC cited eight substantive policy submissions from ONE more than 100 times! (This victory may be short-lived: This Act faces repeal in the 115th Congress.)
- Energy: The Electrify Africa Act was signed into law by President Obama in February! This was a MASSIVE triumph and proved the strength of ONE in the fight to end extreme poverty. In all, ONE members wrote 186,891 letters, sent 5,445 tweets, made 4,814 phone calls, delivered 360,000 signed petitions, and attended 744 meetings with their leaders in Congress. Not only were your voices heard—they’ve helped sub-Saharan African countries to modernize their power infrastructure and increase their access to electricity.
- Nutrition: The Global Food and Security Act (GFSA) was signed into law by President Obama in July. ONE members (along with a team of NGO partners like CARE, Interaction, and Bread) placed 2,883 calls, sent 15,867 letters, and held more than 200 office meetings in support of GFSA’s passage. Great job!
ONE Vote ’16: ONE Vote ’16, a non-partisan project of ONE Action, was a campaign to make the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease — particularly in sub-Saharan Africa — a priority in the 2016 election.
Our goal? With the force of nearly 2 million members in the U.S., ONE Vote ’16 wanted to educate and mobilize voters to ensure the next president would be committed to using the United States’ strategic power to help end extreme poverty and create a safer and more stable world.
Our team used the ONE Vote ’16 Caravan to take the campaign across the USA… 6,048 miles, to be exact – and with a White House bounce house, no less!
ONE members showed up at town halls and rallies, and spoke out in force. Together, they took an amazing 18,645 actions — from signing petitions to sending postcards and tweets — to make sure the candidates heard their voices.
Power in numbers: In February, ONE hosted its 8th annual Power Summit in Washington, DC, with top volunteers from all 50 states. We held 260 lobby meetings on the Hill to discuss appropriations for key programs including GAVI and the Global Fund.
Keeping the faith: This year, ONE was present at many faith-based festivals, including Together 2016, an event in Washington, DC, with more than 150,000 people in attendance. Our team prepared materials to equip houses of worship to educate their membership and take action to protect the foreign assistance budget. We even partnered with Christian spoken word artist Jon Jorgenson for an incredible video:
#EducationForRefugees: Between releasing a report, cheering for Team Refugees at the Olympics, asking ONE members to send messages of support, and delivering a petition with more than 190,000 signatures to the U.S. State Department, ONE was dedicated to making education for refugees a priority among world leaders. It all led up to the refugee summits in September, where leaders announced pledges to improve access to education for a million more refugee children. If leaders follow up, these commitments will transform lives!
Fighting AIDS, malaria, and TB: All year, ONE members took action to support the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. All the actions were leading up to September, when Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian government hosted this year’s Global Fund Replenishment Conference. During the summit, activists Patricia Ochieng and Consolata Opiyo delivered a petition with the names of more than 217,000 ONE members, all asking Prime Minister Trudeau to make sure girls everywhere get the future they deserve. And it worked: The Global Fund raised nearly 13 billion dollars to help fight AIDS, TB and malaria for the next three years! That means up to 8 million more lives saved because of YOU.
Poverty is still sexist: This year, we wrote an open letter to world leaders declaring that poverty is sexist, and that more must be done to support girls and women. The letter had more than 80 influential signers, including Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, Bono, Sir Elton John, the late Muhammad Ali, and more. Later in the year, ONE co-founder Bono was named ‘Glamour’ Man of the Year, in honor of his extraordinary leadership and for ONE’s work on the Poverty is Sexist campaign. Plus, ONE got its biggest endorsement ever when Prime Minister Trudeau responded to our open letter —which was also signed by more than 208,000 ONE members—with a letter of his own that said, “I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is sexist.”
WORST OF 2016:
A belated budget: Congress has once again failed to complete an annual budget/appropriation process, opting for another stop-gap funding bill that will run through April 28, 2017. While our requests for 2017 were not met as hoped, ONE will continue to push for them as April 28 approaches!
(Almost) Education for All: The Education for All Act passed the House in September, and cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 6—but it failed to gain final passage in the Senate. But it wasn’t for lack of trying! Our team met with Senate offices to encourage co-sponsorship and support for the bill, while passionate ONE members delivered 1,966 letters and placed 122 calls in support of the Act.
Stuck in neutral: ONE’s annual AIDS report, “Stuck in Neutral,” published a big reveal in 2016: When it comes to the global AIDS response, not much has changed. And in this case, no news is not good news. When it comes to global funding, resources available for the global fight against AIDS were essentially flat for the fourth consecutive year. When it comes to preventing new infections, the number of people infected with HIV annually has remained stuck at 2.1 million for the third consecutive year. Key indicators that track progress on treatment, prevention, and funding look virtually the same year after year. And business as usual won’t be enough to put the world firmly on the path to the end of AIDS by 2030.
Opportunities for 2017:
We won’t stop fighting poverty and preventable disease, and we hope you won’t either! In addition to the budget processes and another chance for the Education for All Act mentioned above, here’s what next for all of us in 2017:
A new administration: With a new administration in place, ONE will be working hard to maintain our relationships and engage new members on the Hill; adjusting and strengthening our network of volunteers, spokespeople, and consultants; and making sure our issues remain a priority.
Our biggest day of action EVER: 130 million girls around the world are not in school. When girls get an education, they are less likely to become child brides or contract HIV, and they have greater economic opportunities for the rest of their lives, which is good for everyone. Join us on International Women’s Day —March 8, 2017— as we lead our biggest-ever global day of advocacy. We’ll organize people across the country and around the world to make sure that girls and women are at the heart of our poverty-fighting strategy by promoting their access to education.