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Melinda Gates, Melanne Verveer, Thousands of ONE Members Join Conference Call

Washington, D.C. (March 31, 2010) -Last night, more than 4,000 members of the global anti-poverty group ONE joined an interactive conference call with Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues with the State Department, to rally supporters behind the power of women in developing countries to transform their countries.

On the call, ONE members and ONE Global Policy Director Erin Thornton joined Gates and Verveer to learn more about how U.S. investments in women in developing countries are helping to reduce extreme poverty and promoting the social and economic empowerment of women.

“The kind of force that Women ONE2ONE represents in being partners with so many extraordinary people around the globe is something that is critically important for our time,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer. “We know that investments in women correlate with very positive outcomes in poverty alleviation and a country’s general prosperity and we also know that it’s a simple fact that no country can get ahead if half of its people are left behind. We come together… so that these challenges can be addressed and through empowering women they will indeed be solved to a large extent.

“I’ve seen these investments first hand in places like Ethiopia where the government has begun providing community care for women, and is teaching new mothers to take simple low cost measures: things like wrapping their babies and keeping them close to mother’s body for warmth. These efforts are part of a broader picture of successful investments in global health,” said Melinda Gates. “Women ONE2ONE is committed to bringing these success stories home so that people can see them. Let’s show how success is happening and where investments from the U.S. government are making a difference.”

For audio of the conference call, click here.

At the call’s conclusion, ONE Global Policy Director Erin Thornton asked participants to take action by signing a petition at www.one.org. The petitions ask Senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the Senate Budget Committee Chairman and Ranking Member calling for robust funding for the International Affairs Budget. On April 7 and 8, ONE will deliver petitions to Senators in DC and to their state offices.

The poverty-fighting measures in the International Affairs Budget, which total less than one percent of our overall national budget, funds almost all of the investments in maternal and child health, poverty reduction efforts and disease prevention that were the subject of the evening’s call.

ONE hosted the call as part of Women ONE2ONE, a major new campaign designed to increase opportunities for women who live in extreme poverty. The initiative will conduct awareness-raising events and promote activities to support successful policies that transform lives.

More than 12,000 ONE members have already pledged to lend their voices to this campaign.

Women participating in the ONE2ONE campaign will target advocacy efforts in three key areas: better healthcare to reduce the number of women who die in child birth, ensure that millions more girls go to school, and give women the appropriate agricultural tools and training that helps them feed their families, increase their crop yields and market their goods to earn family income.