Despite the rain, Global Citizens came out in full force on Sept. 23 to celebrate this year’s Global Citizen Festival in New York City and show how much they care about ending extreme poverty.

The stage in Central Park welcomed incredible performers, activists, advocates, and global leaders, each of whom used their voice to call the world to action for equity, for the planet, for food, and for jobs in the mission to end extreme poverty. 

Through a combination of music, dance, and inspiring speeches, the festival provided a platform to mobilize urgent action to tackle the biggest issues driving extreme poverty: the climate emergency, gender inequality, and the global food crisis.

Here are some of the most powerful quotes from the 2023 Global Citizen Festival.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

“We need leaders to urgently tackle the climate crisis, because we can’t win unless we stop our world from heating up. We need leaders to bridge the digital divide, because we can’t win if billions of people — especially girls — are left offline and left behind. And we need leaders to achieve gender equality, because we can’t win when half the team isn’t even on the field.”

Puyr Tembé, Indigenous Leader of the Tembé People in Brazil

Indigenous Leader, PuyrTembé, Helder Barbalho, and Sonia Guajara address the audience at Global Citizen Festival 2023.
Image: Mary Kang for Global Citizen

“Our Indigenous knowledge must be heard and we must demand climate justice. Receive the strength of the forest, its rivers, and its lands. Receive this message to reforest our minds, new beginnings, and resilience. Call on the spirit of the Amazon. She will answer!”

Danai Gurira, award-winning actor, playwright, and Global Citizen Ambassador

“I’ve stood on Global Citizen stages in Johannesburg, in Accra, in Paris, and I’m back here in my hometown New York because we’ve still got work to do to amplify the underrepresented voices of the world. Right now, countries battling poverty are trapped in an unending cycle directly caused by climate change. We cannot ignore the fact that these vulnerable countries, despite contributing the least to climate change, are the ones impacted the most.”

Pashtana Durrani, Afghan human rights activist, educator, and 2023 Global Citizen Prize winner

Pashtana Durrani stands beside Olivier Ndoole, Common, and Vladimir Duthiers as they collectively speak about the need to protect civic space and human rights globally.
Image: Mary Kang for Global Citizen

“Many like me were forced to leave Afghanistan two years ago. We were committed to fighting for the education of women and girls, and the Taliban did not like that. Keep the spotlight on human rights defenders. It shouldn’t have taken a whole village for me to stand here. It shouldn’t have [taken] me being arrested for me to be worthy enough to end up in the US. So please, stand up with human rights defenders.”

Deja Foxx, reproductive rights activist and 2023 Global Citizen Prize Winner

“We can’t lose our courage now. We need it more than ever. If we work together, we can enact change. Demand sex education and birth control for all young people. Decriminalize and destigmatize access to abortion, including self-managed care. Be an ally and work with us to demand our leaders invest in sexual and reproductive health for all of us.”

Busy Philipps, New York Times bestselling author, actor, and activist

“When I was 15 years old, I had an abortion. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this publicly and it’s not going to be the last because, as you all here know, women, girls, and people with uteruses are currently being denied the right to make health care decisions about their own bodies. Without bodily autonomy, there will never be true equality.”

Brianna Fruean, Samoan environmental advocate and 2022 Global Citizen Prize winner

Activist and 2022 Global Citizen Prize winner, Brianna Fruen stands beside President José Ramos Horta to address the audience on climate action at Global Citizen Festival 2023.
Image: Mary Kang for Global Citizen

“The climate crisis is a humanity crisis. It’s been packaged as this big complicated thing that should be the concern of politicians and scientists. But at the heart of it, it’s as simple as saving our homes — saving mine, so we can save yours. Pacific Islanders are the canaries in the coal mine, warning the world of this climate reality. To save the Pacific is to save the world.”

Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

“Over the last two decades, maternal mortality rates have dropped by a third. But that progress has stalled, and in some places, it has even reversed. The denial of your sexual and reproductive health is a violation of your human rights. It cannot be tolerated. We must demand stronger and better resourced health systems and we must demand them now.”

Jerome Foster II, environmental activist and White House Environmental Justice Advisor

“The US must uplift global frontline communities who are affected first and worst by the climate crisis and who are continuing to be affected today. We must seize this moment to become a beacon of hope for the future.”

Gayle King, co-host of 'CBS Mornings’ and Editor-at-Large of 'O, The Oprah Magazine’

Gayle King speaks to thousands of Global Citizens about the importance of an open civic space at the annual festival in Central Park, New York, 2023.
Image: Mary Kang for Global Citizen

“We are not here by chance. Every person gathered in Central Park right now — it’s at least 60,000 of us — and the millions streaming from home, are here because they chose to actively participate in the Global Citizen movement. But it’s also very important to remember that not everyone is able to gather in this way, to assemble freely at such a large scale, exercising their right to freedom of expression and association. So we must keep speaking out and taking action as Global Citizens, because together, we can change the world.”

The stage lights may have gone down and Central Park's Great Lawn may have been cleared, but that doesn't mean that the action-taking is over. For the first time in a generation, the number of people living in extreme poverty is rising, and we need to act now to protect the world's most vulnerable people. Global Citizen’s campaign to defeat poverty, defend the planet, and demand equity is ongoing, and you can still join a movement of Global Citizens ending extreme poverty by taking action with us. Join us on our mission to end extreme poverty by downloading our app and taking actions on the world's most pressing issues. 


Demand Equity

10 Powerful Quotes From Global Citizen Festival 2023

By Kristine Liao