Commonwealth Leaders Commit to Gender Equality, Nutrition and Ending Preventable Diseases at Global Citizen Live in London
On Tuesday 17th April, more than 4,000 Global Citizens, three heads of government, key representatives from eight governments, business leaders, non-profit organizations and socially conscious artists united to mobilize momentum for the world’s poorest at the Global Citizen Live event in London.
Critically they were rallying momentum from the Commonwealth, just days before the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting kicked off in London.
The Commonwealth is a network of 53 countries home to 2.4 billion people — a fifth of whom live on less than $2 a day, and yet the Commonwealth is also made up of some of the world’s richest countries and fastest-growing economies. Thus it holds a unique position on the global stage to generate significant impact.
And today was proof of that when leaders from Commonwealth countries across the world responded to Global Citizens’ demands for action and made concrete commitments toward some of the most urgent issues of our time, including nutrition, preventable diseases, girls’ education and poor vision.
Ahead of Global Citizen Live London, Global Citizens in the UK and around the world took 257,000 actions since February 2017 that:
— Secured 10 commitments from the public, private and nonprofit sectors towards ending extreme poverty;
— Galvanized eight governments from both OECD and Global South countries to make financial and political commitments to the some of the world’s poorest people;
— These commitments are worth £305 million, and are set to affect the lives of 17 million people.
Global Citizen will continue to use these commitments to hold governments and businesses accountable to deliver on their promises in the years to come as part of their process of systematically and transparently reviewing progress of commitments and announcements made through campaigns and events.
Neglected Tropical Diseases: Special Advisor to the President of Ghana on the Sustainable Development Goals committed to reaching another 8.4 million people by 2020 who are still suffering from the four remaining neglected tropical diseases in the country.
Nutrition: The Power of Nutrition — a global partnership of investors and implementers — pledged to provide Rwanda with $35 million (£25 million) in funds to help the country accelerate their current progress in ending undernutrition. The funds will be disbursed with a specific focus on children and mothers.
Girls’ Education: Since February 2017, Global Citizens have tweeted, emailed and petitioned a total of 64,177 times to get the UK government to step up. Tonight, the UK government committed to a total of £212m towards the Girls Education Challenge to provide almost 1 million girls across Commonwealth countries access to a quality education.
Poor vision: Two heads of state — the Prime Minister for Antigua and Barbuda and the President of Botswana declared the importance of access to clear vision to break the cycle of poverty on the Global Citizen stage. The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, reaffirmed the government’s historic commitment to become the first country in the world to bring vision to an entire generation of school children.
Kofi Annan and Hina Jilani: Former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Elders, Kofi Annan, alongside international human rights defender and advocate to the Supreme Court of Pakistan Hina Jilani, called on Global Citizens to be the generation to end extreme poverty, and to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela in what would have been his 100th year.
33,951 ACTIONS AND CAMPAIGNING DELIVERED COMMITMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT TOTAL £214 MILLION
UK Girls’ Education Challenge: In response to Global Citizens’ demands for action, Secretary of State for International Development in the UK Penny Mordaunt committed on the Global Citizen stage to provide £212 million. This funding will provide 973,000 of the world’s most vulnerable girls across the Commonwealth an education through the Girls’ Education Challenge.
“Right now young girls are being forced to drop out of school, and they’re not getting the same opportunities as their brothers. I know you know this because you write to me and the minister, you tweet, you campaign — you do all those things. Earlier today our female Prime Minister announced that she has listened to you and she is going to commit £212 million pounds towards education, that’s what you’ve done. And that will help 1 million extra girls in the Commonwealth get an education. That program is going to focus on the hardest to reach girls, in conflict situations and with disabilities. You’ve done that so thank you.” — Secretary of State for International Development for the UK, Penny Mordaunt
Australia: The Minister for International Development and Pacific for Australia also announced an additional £1.7 million towards the Commonwealth of Learning “Reaching the Unreached” project, aimed at providing education and training to 40,000 girls in rural and regional areas in South Asia. This will fund open and distance learning to provide secondary schooling and skills development training to women and girls who are prevented from attending schools by barriers such as early marriage, cultural norms and distance from schools.
Education for girls in emergencies
Safe Schools Declaration: In response to 25,549 petition signatures provided by Global Citizens and the tireless work of our partners, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the UK, Boris Johnson, stated that the Safe Schools Declaration would be signed imminently. This would make the UK the 74th signatory to this declaration and serve as an official assurance that the country will condemn attacks on schools, protect education during armed conflict, and offer supervision, services and teaching to save children’s lives. Global Citizen will be ensuring that the Minister follows through on this promise.
Commonwealth Calls to Action: Minister for Foreign Affairs in Australia Julie Bishop and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the UK, Boris Johnson, both stated that educating girls in emergencies was a core priority for them. The Ministers also issued strong rallying cries to the Commonwealth to take action on the issue.
“I’m here to focus on the very important issue of girls in crises. Of course here at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting we have an ideal opportunity to raise this issue in the Commonwealth...When we act collaboratively, we can make a difference globally... Australia will continue to support women and girls, as they are the ones who are likely to be disadvantaged for life unless their education is restored... So I invite all leaders at the summit this week to put it on the Commonwealth agenda.”— Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop
“I have been shocked as Foreign Secretary to discover the inequality in the education of girls and boys. It’s sheer global sexism, that’s what it is….What on earth are we doing in 2018 to allow this insanity to continue? As our Prime Minister announced today, we are putting £212 million towards educating another 1 million girls. Our campaign is to achieve 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world. Let’s get it adopted by every single one of these wonderful Commonwealth heads of state in government by the end of this summit.” — Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the UK, Boris Johnson
Muzoon Almellehan: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan made an impassioned call to action to Global Citizens and leaders around the world on the vitality of education, particularly at a time when the situation in Syria is escalating.
“Now is the time to view education for girls as a life-saving force. Now is the time to take decisive action on their behalf. Now is the time to restore hope in their futures. The education of children shattered by crises cannot wait.”— UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Muzoon Almellehan
Joanna Roper: In her role as the UK’s first ever Foreign and Commonwealth Office UN Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper called on Global Citizens to help her drive forward the UK’s campaign to ensure that every woman and girl receives 12 years worth of quality education.
“We want to see all girls access 12 years to a quality education. So I ask you Global Citizens tonight to use your voice for those who cannot and support our campaign for 12 years of quality education.”— Foreign and Commonwealth Office UN Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper
86,548 ACTIONS AND CAMPAIGNING DELIVERED COMMITMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT TOTAL £20 MILLION
Johnson & Johnson: Partners of Global Citizen Johnson & Johnson announced its Johnson & Johnson GenH Challenge to the 4,000 strong crowd — a global social venture competition which provides winners with cash and mentorship support to help them find breakthrough solutions to create the healthiest generation.
“Dr. Yeboah is one of the winners of the first Johnson & Johnson GenH Challenge, a global social venture competition to find breakthrough solutions to create the healthiest generation.
The GenH Challenge provided six finalists, all from Commonwealth countries, with a cash prize and mentorship from a J&J leader for 2018….We’re proud to partner with all the Global Citizens on the front lines of care to change the health of the world.” — Vice President, Scientific Innovation, Thoracic Surgical Oncology for Johnson & Johnson, Pierre Theodore
Ghana: In a historic moment, Special Advisor to the President of Ghana on the Sustainable Development Goals, Eugene Owusu, announced that Ghana is the first sub-saharan African country to have eliminated trachoma — a neglected tropical disease that is the leading cause of infectious blindness worldwide. Owusu went on to call on leaders to raise the 170 million needed annually to reach half a billion people with treatment by 2020 and he led by example by committing to reach 8.4 million people by 2020 who are still suffering from the four remaining neglected tropical diseases in the country.
“Tonight, on His Excellency’s behalf, I pledge his commitment to champion the end of Neglected Tropical Diseases across Africa….We will invest our resources into tackling the four most common neglected tropical diseases still left in our country, reaching 8.4 million Ghanaians still suffering from lack of treatment by 2020...Thank you, Global Citizens, for calling on us to lead the way for a healthier world.” — Special Advisor to the President of Ghana on the Sustainable Development Goals, Eugene Owusu
Botswana: Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, in his first few days in office, committed to prioritize neglected tropical diseases and assured that he would be working during the Commonwealth summit this week to join him in this endeavor.
“One my priorities is also to reach as many Botswanans as possible who are not receiving treatment for neglected tropical diseases. This week at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, I will be encouraging my fellow Commonwealth leaders to help us eliminate neglected tropical diseases and achieve clear vision for everyone, everywhere.” — President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi
The Prime Minister of Malta: Malta’s Prime minister and the outgoing Chair of the Commonwealth Joseph Muscat, assured he would use this week’s Commonwealth Summit to urge all of its member nations to recommit to finishing the job of eradicating polio — an issue that Global Citizens have taken 65,059 actions on in the past few months alone. Muscat also called on the Commonwealth to contribute to raising the $250 million needed by 2020 to deploy the drugs and treatment necessary to avoid the world’s deadliest neglected tropical diseases.
“In response to actions taken by Global Citizens and Rotarians since 2015, Commonwealth leaders have committed 169 million pounds in funding for polio eradication and are set to vaccinate 140 million children per year over the next three years….Next, we must apply these lessons to ending neglected tropical diseases, like trachoma, the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness. To tackle these preventable diseases, we must raise another 180 million pounds a year by 2020, a goal we call upon Commonwealth countries to commit to now!” —Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat
UK: Global Citizens have called on the UK government 10,993 times via both email and twitter to recommit to their 2017 pledge to protect 200 million people from neglected tropical diseases. Just 24 hours before the event, the UK government pledged to follow through on this commitment and announced that they would eliminate trachoma for millions of people by 2020 through allocating £20 million of their 2017 pledge.
Botswana: The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, reaffirmed the government’s historic commitment to become the first country in the world to bring vision to an entire generation of school children. This will be committed through the government’s programme, Pono Yame, that aims to screen nearly half a million school children by 2020 for their eyesight.
“My government has introduced a programme for early identification of school children with poor vision called Pono Yame (My Sight) which will be rolled out nationally from now until 2021. This will allow Botswana to become the first country in the world to correct the vision of an entire generation of school children.” — President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi
Antigua and Barbuda: Prime Minister for Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, announced that he would personally advocate for clear vision on the global stage. And that he would call on other nations to champion the issue as an accelerator of the Sustainable Development Goals to end extreme poverty by 2030.
"So this week, Antigua and Barbuda are leading efforts to ensure the Commonwealth summit results in a concrete commitment from all 53 nations to create a world where every person can see clearly through universal quality eye care.And in the years ahead, I will personally advocate for clear vision on the global stage, and call on other nations to champion this issue through both the Commonwealth and United Nations by recognising that clear vision is an accelerator of the Sustainable Development Goals.” — Prime Minister for Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne
Rwanda: The Minister of State for Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care for Rwanda, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi committed to extend eye screening services to all children, to help them learn and to improve ability to gain access to more advanced eye care services of those screened at primary care level.
“In 2017, we recorded more than 1 million consultations for eye diseases and all those in need received glasses and eye treatments. In the future, we will prioritise to extend eye screening services to all children and to improve linkages of those screened at primary care level to more advanced eye care services.” — The Minister of State for Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care for Rwanda, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi
FOOD AND HUNGER
29,347 ACTIONS AND CAMPAIGNING DELIVERED COMMITMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT TOTAL £67 MILLION
Power of Nutrition: After receiving 4,782 tweets from Global Citizens on the issue, the Power of Nutrition pledged to provide Rwanda with $35 million (£25 million) in funds to help the country accelerate progress in their commitment to end undernutrition. The funds will be disbursed with a specific focus on children and mothers.
“I’m now pleased to announce that The Power of Nutrition has pledged an incredible $35 million to help them accelerate progress and improve Rwandan children’s lives.”— Actress and Producer, Tracey Ullman
Rwanda: The Power of Nutrition’s commitment was publicly acknowledged by the Minister of State for Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care for Rwanda, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi. The Minister also reaffirmed to Global Citizens that the country is committed to reduce the current stunting rate by half, in the few years to come.
“We are grateful and very appreciative to The Power of Nutrition and all our partners for their support in our journey to reduce stunting dramatically which is a very high priority for the Government of Rwanda. We are committed to reduce the current stunting rate by half, in the years to come.”— Minister of State for Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care for Rwanda, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi
UK: Over the past two months Global Citizens took nearly 5,000 actions calling on the UK government to improve the nutrition of mothers and children. Last week, the UK government announced funding for the Power of Nutrition that will reach 5 million women and children with nutrition interventions.
40,330 ACTIONS AND CAMPAIGNING DELIVERED COMMITMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT TOTAL £3.4 MILLION
Level the Law: UN Secretary General’s Envoy for Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake issued a powerful rallying cry to end all discriminatory laws holding women back across the Commonwealth. While the Foreign and Commonwealth Office UN Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper, in response to 29,3339 actions taken by Global Citizens since March of this year, declared that the UK government would work with other Commonwealth countires during its two years as chair, to level the law for women.
"But around the world, there are still disparities and inequalities that still exist. So the UK government has made gender equality and girls' education in particular key priorities. And as we chair the Commonwealth for the next two years, we'll work with other Commmonwealth countries to help see an end to discriminatory laws and practices." — Foreign and Commonwealth Office UN Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper
“Today in many places, legislation discriminates against girls and women when it comes to access to finance, minimum age of marriage, and equal pay. So to all Commonwealth leaders present this evening: I firmly stand with the thousands of Global Citizens that have called on you to Level the Law and take concrete measures to end gender discrimination in the law by 2030.” — UN Secretary General’s Envoy for Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake
Digital Identity: The UK and Australian government announced a partnership to accelerate progress towards every woman and girl in the Commonwealth having access to a digitally enabled identity by 2030. Minister for International development and Pacific for Australia, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells corroborated this partnership by committing on behalf of Australia to provide £3.4 million in funding to ensure that girls and women can access education, healthcare, fair work and fair pay.
39,033 ACTIONS AND CAMPAIGNING DELIVERED KEY ANNOUNCEMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP
Modern Slavery: The Co-op, one of the UK’s leading retailers, announced their continued commitment to providing vital support to victims of slavery through paid work placements as part of their Bright Future programme. The Co-op’s CEO, Steve Murrells, also confirmed the organization’s just announced 85 placements for victims of modern slavery in 2018, and called upon businesses to step up and help fight this problem which currently affects an estimated 13,000 people in the UK alone.
“If enough of us can persuade our MPs to support Lord McColl’s Bill, it will become law and survivors of slavery will receive guaranteed support for 12 months instead of just 45 days...With that year-long support, far more people like Maria will be physically able, and emotionally ready, to take the work opportunities we want to provide from the Co-op with our Bright Future programme, and we’ve just announced 85 placements for victims of Modern Slavery in this year alone. We hope other businesses will follow Co-op’s lead.” — CEO for the Co-op, Steve Murrells
Activism: Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chair of the Elders, Kofi Annan, alongside international human rights defender Hina Jilani, call on Global Citizens to be the generation to end extreme poverty, and to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela in what would have been his 100th year.
“Real change comes from people. You are never too young to lead and we are never too old to learn — that is my generation...So please join us. Walk Together and help us to continue Mandela’s long walk to freedom.”— Former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Elders, Kofi Annan
“Be the generation that brings runaway inequality to its knees! Walk Together with us.” — International human rights defender, Hina Jilani