Today, dozens of actors, musicians, media and business leaders, and other strong voices for women have teamed up with ONE to tell lawmakers that extreme poverty hurts girls and women worse and in different ways than it does boys and men, and to demand targeted action to support girls and women.
Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere. But the toughest countries in which to be born a girl are also the poorest, because Poverty is Sexist. Poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand. In 2016, half a billion women still cannot read, 62 million girls are denied an education and 155 countries still have laws that differentiate between men and women. Yet, ironically perhaps, it is widely accepted that investing in girls and women lifts everyone out of poverty more quickly.
Here’s what a few of the incredible people who signed the letter have to say:
“ONE’s report is proof that ‘Poverty is Sexist’ isn’t just a phrase, it’s a fact. Women and girls face gender bias in every part of this world, but in the poorest places it doesn’t just harm, it can kill. When girls are the first in the family denied school or sometimes even basic nutrition, and when adolescent girls in Africa are getting infected by HIV three times as often as boys, that isn’t just discrimination — it’s a potential death sentence. Women are hit the hardest, but they are also leading the fight to pull not just themselves, but their communities out of poverty. It’s a fight that all of us — women and men — need to put our backs into.”
— Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE and (RED)
“Think about the world we’d live in if more girls had the chance to grow up to be empowered women. Extreme poverty is choking the potential of generations of young women in the developing world. Poverty is sexist. It hits girls and women harder than it does boys and men, creating a real urgency that world leaders must address. That’s why I’m raising my voice and asking others to do the same.”
— Shonda Rhimes, creator and CEO of Shondaland
“Poverty is sexist. We live in a world where women and girls suffer the brunt of extreme poverty and disadvantage, where being born female guarantees you the short end of the stick. Socially, economically, legally – girls and women living in the poorest countries get a raw deal simply because they are born female. Every day, in every corner of the world, they are stopped from reaching their full potential. This is still true in America and in Europe, but it is especially true in the developing world. Each of us has an opportunity and a responsibility to speak out and demand action.”
— Danai Gurira, actor and award-winning playwright
“The future of Africa is in the hands of its young women. If they are educated, they will educate their communities. If they are healthy, they will ensure others grow up healthy. If they are empowered, they will change the world. We can break the cycle of poverty, but we have to invest in girls and women to do it.”
— Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-winning artist and activist
“Three out of every four adolescents in Africa who contract HIV are girls, and on average, women in sub-Saharan Africa who contract HIV will do so five to seven years earlier than men. It’s heartbreaking. Stopping the spread of HIV will mean doing more to protect girls and young women. The Global Fund is doing powerful work helping treat and prevent AIDS and deserves expanded support from world leaders. We have the chance to stop HIV/AIDS in our lifetime, and we need to raise our voices now to make sure it happens.”
— Sir Elton John, founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation
This International Women’s Day, and everyday from now on, let’s raise the challenges faced by women everywhere and encourage our leaders to prioritize them. The more people that join this movement, the harder it is to ignore.