1. Home
  2. Stories
  3. A look back at a year of global activism in 2020

A look back at a year of global activism in 2020

This year, in the face of a global pandemic, the fight against global poverty and inequality became tougher, but more important than ever.

Our tireless activists fought for fair deals on debt, vaccine access, aid budgets, and more. Hundreds of thousands of global activists signed petitions, completed surveys, tweeted at or sent emails to politicians, attended briefing calls, shared messages of solidarity, or danced to our anthem “Stand Together.”

Here’s a quick look at some of what ONE and our activists did in 2020 to fight for a better world.

We told leaders to end COVID-19 everywhere

We kicked off 2020 campaigning on access to vaccines for people living in the most vulnerable countries and, thanks to COVID-19, we’re ending the year off on the same theme. The pandemic struck while we were calling on governments to increase funding for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an organisation that helps millions of children across the world receive vaccinations against preventable diseases. Gavi is now playing a key part in providing global access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

While recent news of successful vaccines against COVID-19 is reason to celebrate, the reality is this pandemic won’t end with a vaccine — it will end when everyone, everywhere, can access it. That’s why we’re pushing hard for governments and pharmaceutical companies to step up and ensure the tools to fight this virus are in as many people’s hands as possible.

To keep an eye on global leaders and players, we created our Vaccine Access Test, which aims to answer one crucial question: Are the actions taken by world leaders and players moving us closer to or further from an equitable outcome for the pandemic? Check out the latest results and stay tuned for more monthly updates next year.

We called out the double standards during this pandemic

As COVID-19 unfolded, it quickly became clear that the way a country responded to the pandemic would be dictated by the amount of money they had available. However, while many rich countries ripped up the rules to do this, some of the most vulnerable countries were still having to pay back debts to high-income countries and groups like the World Bank. To learn more about these double standards, watch our Monopoly video.

Together we mobilised against this. More than 79,000 people signed our petition and took actions throughout the year. Twice, we saw the G20 countries agree to suspend debt repayments, which freed up around US$5.7 billion for vulnerable countries. While we couldn’t shift the World Bank, or private lenders, we did (and will continue to) keep relentless pressure up on them throughout the year.

We explored how COVID-19 disproportionately impacted women and girls

While the fatality rates from COVID-19 have disproportionately affected men, women and girls are among the most vulnerable socially and economically compared to their male counterparts. From the impacts on women’s work in the informal economy, to access to girls’ education, to increases in gender-based violence, women across the globe have been situated all too well to take the brunt of the economic impact of COVID-19.

In addition to exploring these concerning impacts, we also wanted to tell the stories and share the solutions and guidance from women and girls on the frontlines of tackling inequality. Our profile series did just that, with advice from activists including Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Edith Esinam Asamani-Wasie, Lola Omolola, and Olaoluwa Abagun.

We pushed the EU to (finally!) adopt its long-term budget

After an extraordinary two and a half years of campaigning, the ONE Chance campaign is over. The last few years have been a rollercoaster of events, with countless rounds of EU leaders’ discussions and negotiations between the European Parliament and member states, two European Commission proposals, and a global pandemic.

Unfortunately, the EU’s international development budget for the next seven years was less than what ONE supporters have been calling for. But after seeing the offer that was on the table in July, ONE’s committed supporters stepped up to successfully convince the EU Parliament to increase their proposed budget, ensuring fairer access to the COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, and making sure that children receive high-quality education.

We stood together

In August, ONE teamed up with some of Africa’s biggest music stars to launch a new anthem that called on everyone to Stand Together to beat COVID-19. Featuring 2Baba, Yemi Alade, Ben Pil, and Amanda Black it was launched in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and MTV Base. Check out the dance challenge too!

Throughout the year, we’ve been amazed by the solidarity seen across the world — the acts of kindness and selflessness and the people supporting each other and our frontline heroes. At the start of the pandemic, we reached out to ask for your Stories of Solidarity and the response was truly inspiring. Watch our video series highlighting the acts of frontline heroes during the pandemic.

We gave leaders a to do list for COVID-19 and beyond

While there have been incredible acts of kindness, bravery, and sacrifice during this pandemic, what has been less impressive is the continued failure of leaders and governments to come together on a global approach to beat the virus.

What does global leadership in a pandemic look like? We outlined 10 things we need to see from global and local leaders, including international cooperation, investing in long-term preparedness, inspiring action, and ultimately, creating a single, unified response.

We amplified expert voices

For almost a year, COVID-19 has dominated news channels, social media, and our daily conversations. With such an overwhelming amount of information, it can be hard to cut through the noise. That’s why we launched #PassTheMic, to hear directly from experts and frontline workers. Over the course of several weeks, celebrities handed their social media platforms over to the experts to share the facts, science, and data about what needs to happen to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the most crucial things we learned.

All the progress made this year came down to the work and support of people like you, so from everyone at ONE, thank you for your continued support.

Up Next

ONE at 20: Barb Barrar

Meet Janet Kallon: ONE’s Mandela Fellow

Meet Janet Kallon: ONE’s Mandela Fellow

2022 Wrapped, ONE Edition

2022 Wrapped, ONE Edition