One.Org Celebrates International Women's Day With A Strong Message | #PovertyIsSexist

I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the International Women's Day organized by One.Org in Johannesburg this past weekend. What an informative treat that was. Under the message of Poverty Is Sexiest I was in the company of some formidable women who had a strong message to send to the world and our leaders about the dire circumstances with which poverty has basically enslaved our women at present.
Girls and women are hit hardest by extreme poverty across every area of life, but they also hold the key to change, according to new analysis published by The ONE Campaign on International Women’s Day.

ONE’s report, “Poverty is Sexist: Why girls and women must be at the heart of the fight to end extreme poverty” shows how unlocking women’s economic potential could improve the lives of everyone in society, and highlights how two summits hosted by two world-leading women this year represent an historic opportunity to turn things around.

Musicians and social justice activists Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Angelique Kidjo, Hollywood actress Danai Gurira, South Africa’s Minister of Women’s Affairs Susan Shabangu, Zambian entrepreneur Monica Musonda are among 30 influential women backing ONE’s campaign for world leaders to put girls and women center stage in 2015, a year when world leaders must agree new global goals to set the development agenda for a generation.

President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on her fellow leaders to act now, and said:
"Poverty is sexist: I see it all the time, too often women and girls are worst hit by poverty and left to carry its burdens. But investing in them is also so often the solution. So let’s deliver for women because women deliver. This year through the AU and G7 Summits on women's empowerment, through the Addis Ababa financing summit and through the new Global Goals to be launched in New York, lets ensure that investing in women and girls is central to the strategy, and lets call upon a generation of women around the world to unite for this essential and transformative call to action."
Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, ONE Africa’s Executive Director said:
“It’s about time we refocused the development agenda on gender equity as a smart means of unleashing the potential for human, social, political and economic development everywhere. This being the African Union Year of Women Empowerment, it is our opportunity to seize and promote the advancement of humankind by insisting on policy interventions by our African governments that promote and ensure equal opportunities for women and girls, especially in the poorest countries. 
Complimentary to that, we will therefore be asking development partners to commit to spending 50% of their assistance in least developed countries, where women and girls are most disadvantaged. The benefits of that will be felt across all of society because the evidence shows that the social return of investing in girls and women accrues universally to boys and men too.”
Poverty and gender inequality go hand in hand, whether you look at health, education or work. Not only are girls and women worse off than those in wealthier countries, but the gender gap in these areas between males and females is greatest in the poorest countries. This double disadvantage means that:
  • · A woman in Sierra Leone is 183 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Switzerland
  • · Working women in the least developed countries are three times more likely to be in vulnerable employment than women elsewhere
  • · In the poorest countries, literacy levels are a third lower for women than men
New Sustainable Development Goals, due to be unveiled in September, will set out the historic target of ending extreme poverty by 2030. But the report argues we will fail to reach this visionary aim if girls and women aren’t firmly at the center of the goals.

Ahead of that, potentially game changing summits will be led by Chancellor Merkel, who hosts the G7 and Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, who chairs the African Union Commission. Both have placed women’s empowerment on the agenda.

ONE has analyzed the impact of gender on a range of key sectors, from agriculture to technology, education to energy and found that dismantling the barriers to girls and women leading productive lives could have a profoundly positive impact across society. For example, giving women farmers the same access to resources as men would drive up productivity and could spare 100 – 150 million people from a life of chronic hunger. Meanwhile, every year a girl spends in school boosts her future income by 10 – 20 %.

Empowering women—giving them the power and tools they need to change their own status—allows them to take hold of equal opportunities, break from cultural and social constraints that may be holding them back, and become drivers of poverty reduction.

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