Hozier first met Bono in a car park in Dublin in 2015.
Bono had literally just got off stage moments earlier, performing in front of 13,000 people at the 3Arena. Hozier was waiting in Bono’s car just outside when the U2 frontman jumped in — no time for introductions — and immediately started talking about a charity show at Carnegie Hall in New York the following week for (RED) and the ONE Campaign, two sister nonprofits he co-founded to end HIV/AIDS and fight extreme poverty.
It was agreed: Hozier would play the show. It was there that he first met Bill Gates, Miley Cyrus, and Bill Clinton, and across one spectacular night of activism and education, realised “just how achievable the seemingly unachievable was” — specifically, grappling to give people access to the necessary medication to live with HIV/AIDS. He asks Bono what it was that drew him into the issue.
“It just seemed to me that these two pills … just symbolised inequality,” Bono tells Hozier at his home in Ireland for the second episode of the Cry Power podcast. “It physicalised it. You didn’t get the pills, you died. You did get the pills, you lived. And where you live should not decide whether you live — that’s the basic premise of (RED).”
It’s the struggle against inequality that’s brought the two Irish artists together again now — not just to discuss human development and the state of the world, but how all of us can play a role in making it better.
“We had a prayer as a band: to be useful,” Bono says. “Can we be useful? Can this podcast be useful? Can the people who listen to it become even more useful than they are?”
“That would be a nice goal for this podcast — a podcast about goals,” he adds, referencing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are 17 objectives that work together to end extreme poverty by 2030, focusing on its root causes, ranging from climate change to gender inequality. You can take action on all those issues with Global Citizen here.
Bono was gracious enough to talk to me about his incredible work with the @ONE Campaign and @Red, and what this has achieved for people in the developing world. We also spoke about the process of collaborating on goals of that kind with people of different world views. I’m thrilled to share episode 2 of the #CryPower podcast. @glblctzn @u2 🖤 Listen + subscribe link in bio.
Such openness is etched into their whole conversation, touching on spirituality, fame, religion — he says he has a “deep faith in God but a deep suspicion in religion” — politics, feminism, the power of social movements, and the “vaccine” of transparency.
But nothing ignites Bono quite like his activism — co-founding (RED) and the ONE Campaign to drive governments and businesses to do their part in the fight against HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. Today there are 736 million people who live in extreme poverty around the world, officially defined as living on less than £1.50 ($1.90) a day.
“Politics is pop — politics will change when the people want it to, because they need your vote… and you vote every time you spend,” Bono explains. “There’s power in your pocket. Use it.”
It’s here! Listen to the second episode of the #CryPower podcast with @Hozier and Bono right now — talking about HIV/AIDS, the struggle against injustice, and how this podcast can be useful.— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) October 8, 2019
Listen, subscribe, and take action at https://t.co/vEx8zwsPxo ✊ @ONECampaign@Redpic.twitter.com/eR3eHJScUm
(RED) works with some of the world’s biggest brands to raise funds and awareness for the fight against HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a partnership that tackles those diseases around the world.
Meanwhile, ONE is an advocacy group with more than 9 million members which campaigns to end extreme poverty with movements like its Poverty Is Sexist campaign. It has fought on the same side as Global Citizen this year in pressuring world leaders to commit financial support to the Global Fund.
Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has saved 27 million lives, cut the number of AIDS-related deaths by more than half since its peak in 2004, reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%, and decreased the malaria death rate by 60%.
Over 56,000 Global Citizens from around the world have taken an astonishing 146,000 actions urging governments to back the fund, including signing petitions, sending tweets, and writing emails. And it worked! On Aug. 21, Germany stepped up with a €1 billion pledge.
Other countries will get the chance to do the same at an urgent replenishment summit happening in France on October 10 — two days after this episode airs — a motivating moment that Bono has been working towards for a long time.
“Simply where you were born decides whether you live or die,” Bono says, revealing the feelings that first stirred him into direct action. “I couldn’t live with myself with that.”
Bono asked his wife and daughters once if he qualified as a feminist. They were candid, telling him that he still had more work to do. The rockstar knows there’s a long way to go to achieve the Global Goals — especially Goal 5 to end gender inequality. He lists fierce young activists like Malala Yousafzai and Scarlett Curtis as those who inspire him to keep going. He refuses to give up the fight.
“It’s dawned on me a few times that yes, I’m moved by compassion — and yes, I’m moved by empathy and wanting to understand my fellow man better,” Bono adds, reflecting on his upbringing in Ireland. “But in the end, much more than charity, I’m motivated by justice.”
New episodes of Cry Power will now drop every fortnight. Head to GlobalCitizen.org/CryPower to check out the latest episodes, take action on the vital issues discussed in the podcast, and to #PowerTheMovement to end extreme poverty