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11 Quotes on Why It's So Important to Unite and Say #SheIsEqual

On Tuesday night, on the sidelines of the European Development Days event, Global Citizen gathered governments, ambassadors, activists, and campaigners in Brussels for a reception with the sole aim of driving forward the fight for gender equality around the world. 

The reception, co-hosted with the governments of Belgium and Luxembourg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Procter & Gamble, celebrated the launch of the #SheIsEqual campaign, to galvanize global citizens everywhere to take a stand for women’s health, equality, and empowerment. 

Throughout 2017 and 2018, the #MeToo and the #SheDecides movements, as well as countless women’s marches worldwide, have demonstrated the sheer hunger for gender equality. 

Take action: Tell World Leaders to End Child Marriage

And Tuesday night was no different, with inspirational and influential change-makers uniting to put women and girls at the center of “all global, national, and local decision-making, to ensure that they are able to reach their highest potential."

Here are some of our favourite of the myriad of inspirational calls to action from the Global Citizen stage. 

1. “It can be done. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen so many fabulous things happening, great results being reached, so many people pulling the same rope and saying we’re going to change this.”

Goedele Liekens, UN Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador

2. “At the core of every problem we’re trying to solve, from poverty to disease, is the power of women and girls. We can’t achieve our goals if half the world’s population continues to be left behind, and their talent and their potential continues to go untapped.”

Anja Langenbucher, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Read more: Global Citizen Launches New Campaign for Gender Equality Because #SheIsEqual

3. “It is a complex problem, it needs a complex response. The more fragmented we are, the less impactful.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women

4. “One in three women in girls suffer physical or sexual abuse. That means that it can happen everywhere. And it’s really time we end that injustice and we need to work together collectively.”

Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission 

5. “It’s very simple. If you can’t afford sanitary protection, you stay home… We believe that no girl should miss school because of her period.”

Ranya Shamoon, vice president of Feminine Care Europe for Procter & Gamble

6.  “I want it to be the dream of every girl out there, feeling that she has the ability to teach the most powerful men in her country something. That will only happen if she is equal and getting her there is all of our responsibility.”

Florence “DJ Cuppy” Otedola, Global Citizen Education Ambassador

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7. “It was because of the unity of all persuasions of people that we were able to end apartheid. We are not at that point yet for gender equality. It is about drawing a line, and everyone being on the same side of the line.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women

8. “Over the course of last year, we have seen the rise of the #MeToo movement, showing that gender equality and fair and equal treatment are still an issue in our society. In reality, women and girls are still treated differently in many aspects of life. This needs to change.” 

Romain Schneider, Luxembourg’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs

9. “These girls, these victims, they could be your sisters. They are our sisters.”

Belgian singer-songwriter and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Axelle Red

10. "Norway is currently the biggest donor to the Global Financing Facility [for women's, children's, and adolescents' health and nutrition] but we like competition. That will be the challenge, to beat us." 

Jens Frølich Holte, Norwegian State Secretary, on the upcoming Global Financing Facility replenishment later this year in Oslo 

11. “Progress depends on courageous political leaders, activists, and everyday citizens who stand up for the health and equal rights of women and girls, and who mobilize the necessary political will and financial resources to get the job done.” 

Madge Thomas, Global Citizen’s Director of Global Policy and Government Affairs

But as well as these inspiring moments, the night also saw the campaign’s very first pledges of commitment and support.

Alexander De Croo, the deputy prime minister of Belgium, pledged €3 million towards the SheDecides movement, to help provide women and adolescent girls’ access to contraceptives and reproductive health services, including in humanitarian crises. The funding will also support the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) to protect girls at risk of child marriage, through the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. 

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“Millions of girls and women don’t have access to contraceptives or family planning services, they lack equal educational opportunities, or are discriminated against by the law,” said De Croo. “They need our support. Belgium will never let them down.” 

Ranya Shamoon, the vice president of Feminine Care Europe for Procter & Gamble, committed to provide 400,000 girls across India, Africa, and China who can’t afford to buy menstrual products, with a long-term supply of pads and educational support from the Always Puberty & Confidence Education program. 

And Romain Schneider, Luxembourg’s minister for development cooperation and humanitarian affairs, took to the stage to announce that Luxembourg’s €2 million worth of financial support to UNFPA in supper of #SheDecides was delivered upon. 

He further announced a new government partnership with Girls Not Brides, a global coalition of more than 900 organisations working to put an end to child marriage, and support girls in reaching their full potential. 

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What’s more, Nigerian musician Florence Otedola — a.k.a. DJ Cuppy — was officially announced as a Global Citizen Education Ambassador, and pledged her commitment to fight for the 131 million girls around the world who are currently not in school. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty. A vital part of reaching every one of the 17 goals is achieving gender equality because, as Nelson Mandela said in 1996, “as long as outmoded ways of thinking prevent women from making a meaningful contribution to society, progress will be slow.” You can join us by taking action here in support of women’s rights and gender equality.