“Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere.”
It continues “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.”
Ahead of International Women’s Day, the ONE Campaign, which aims to eradicate poverty in Africa, has written an open letter to raise awareness of the greater levels of poverty that women and girls face.
In the second Poverty is Sexist report that is published with the letter by ONE, the charity is calling for three main objectives: funding to help girls fight HIV and malnutrition (“Because it is an outrage that girls account for 74 per cent of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa"); policies which support female economic empowerment; and better data on “the girls and women we can’t see, don’t know exist and therefore can’t yet deliver for”.
Some 62 million girls are denied the right to education. Half a billion women can’t read
The report lists the worst places to be a girl in the world, starting with Niger, followed by Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, Yemen, the DRC and Afghanistan. It extensively points out how poverty hits women and girls harder, most crucially in terms of ill health and malnutrition, and what areas One will be campaigning on in 2016, including nutrition, legal equality, greater protection of women’s rights, connectivity and diplomatic pressure.
The report believes that empowering women and girls through education, good health and financial independence is the path to tackling extreme poverty, “Empowering women in the developing world with the ability and choices to improve their lot in life is what will ultimately break the cycle of poverty once and for all.”
A wide range of celebrities have shown their support and signed the letter including Meryl Streep, Melinda Gates, Elton John, Charlize Theron, Colin Farrell, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Shonda Rhimes, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bono and Caitlin Moran.
Shonda Rhimes said of the campaign, “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.”
The letter signs off, "International Women's Day must be about advancing girls and women everywhere."
Add your name to the letter here.