A place where everyone, from every race and ethnicity, community and background, has fair access to opportunities and resources — this is the world we want to see, and that’s what racial equity is all about. But creating this world means ensuring institutional discrimination and structural racism are eradicated to make space for systems that prioritize racial equality and uplift people of color.

Why must we end racial injustice? Because it holds back entire communities; it prevents people being able to access education, health, employment, and more. Racial injustice creates a world in which millions live with the daily reality of discrimination, violence, and indignity.

It is also one of the key barriers holding the world back from ending extreme poverty and its systemic causes.

Global Citizens understand that ending poverty now means realizing racial equity for all, and recognizing that true progress on the 17 United Nations Global Goals can’t be achieved without addressing the systemic causes and impacts of racial inequality, across health care, climate, education, and more.

Because of this, Global Citizens have been working to dismantle white supremacy and advocate for racial equity, by taking more than thousands of actions to help change the systems that hold people of color back.

These actions have had a huge impact, so far helping to provide 35 (and counting) BeyGOOD fellowships to South African and Nigerian youth, deliver business loans to women and minority-owned businesses throughout New York State, facilitate justice reform to end cash bail, deliver urgent health care to at risk communities, and provide digital skills training to South African and Nigerian youth.

Here are six stories about how the actions of Global Citizens have helped change policies and deliver opportunities that have positively impacted the lives of people and communities experiencing racial inequality.

1. The BeyGOOD Global Citizen Fellowship Program Helps 35 Young Africans Reach New Heights 

South Africa has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world — over 64% of people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed, according the International Labor Organization. There are several factors that cause this, from apartheid-era strategies that forced non-white people to the outskirts of cities, to so-called townships, sparking “spacial inequality” that still has impacts today and hinders people’s access to the job market; to an education system that often doesn’t provide young people with the right skills to get employed.

But Global Citizen and our partners are working to help change that. Back in 2018, at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the BeyGOOD x Global Citizen Fellowship Program was announced.

Global Citizens took 5.65 million actions ahead of the festival, which saw a US$1 million pledge by Tyler Perry to provide 50 young people from Africa with work placements within the Global Citizen Africa teams, based in South Africa and Nigeria. So far, through the Fellowship, 35 young people have gained valuable experience and hands-on job and skills training in advocacy and campaigning with Global Citizen.

“I went into the program wanting to learn as much as possible and I did. I also thrived within the marketing department and went on to use all the skills I learned to work for some well-known companies in South Africa,” writes BeyGOOD Fellowship alum, Darnelle Fortune, who now works permanently with the Global Citizen South Africa team.

2. Essential Digital Skills Training Across 46 African Countries

Another Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 commitment has helped over 6.5 million people to access employment in digital economy through the Cisco Networking Academy program. Offered in 1,025 learning institutions in 16 languages throughout 46 countries in Africa, the initiative partners with local governments, schools, and universities to give students the opportunity to become IT networking professionals.

“Before I came to Siyafunda, I went to computer school. And then I had to stop because there were no jobs. I was sending my CV to so many places but there was just no job anywhere,” said Sharon Khoza, a former Cisco Networking Academy student at Siyafunda — one of the institutions where the Academy operates in South Africa.

“I'm also learning that giving back to my community and young people is the most important thing. I'm looking forward to teaching more people who are just like I was. Right now, my future looks really bright, so I'm very happy,” she added.

3. Global Citizens Help LISC Support Black Entrepreneurs Across the United States

Among the more than 19,400 cities and towns of the United States, Atlanta has the highest rate of racial inequity, with only 4% of young Black people born into poverty having a chance of escaping it. Further north in New York City, Black people make up 22% of the population, yet just 3.5% of NYC businesses are owned by Black entrepreneurs, according to the City of New York.

In 2020, Global Citizens took almost 800,000 actions to mobilize financial and policy commitments at Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, with $13 million announced collectively by Procter & Gamble, the Citi Foundation, and software company SAP, to support racial equity initiatives led by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Equal Justice Initiative — organizations that tackle issues ranging from mass incarceration and wrongful conviction, to structural inequity and minority support.

Today, these commitments have helped LISC deliver funding to the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI), an organization supporting community wealth building strategies in Southwest, Southeast and Northwest Atlanta, by prioritizing job opportunities in Black communities by funding Black entrepreneurs and addressing the structural racism that drives inequality. In New York state, LISC, through the New York State Forward Loan Fund has also helped deliver more than 1,667 loans — averaging $$55,757 — to women- and minority-owned businesses located across 49 counties, who were hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic. 

In New York state, LISC, through the New York State Forward Loan Fund, has also helped deliver more than 1,667 loans — averaging  $55,757 —  across 49 counties, to women- and minority-owned businesses who were hit hardest but the economic impact of the pandemic.

4. UNFPA Delivers Live-Saving Maternal Care to Marginalized Groups in the Global South

More than 300,000 women from Mexico, and across Africa and South-East Asia, have gained access to life-saving maternal health care services thanks in part to the actions of Global Citizens, and Global Citizen partners. The pandemic has helped shed light on the longstanding disparities in health and health care for people of color, including for maternal and infant health care. The intersectional oppression of sexism and racism limits women's access to quality health care during pregnancy and childbirth, driving inequality in health care around the world.

Funding mobilized during the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign and broadcast event in 2020, has so far helped the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to deliver critical maternal and newborn health care to communities in Benin, Guinea, Togo, Thailand, the Philippines, and Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding has also helped UNFPA recruit 56 midwives in the remote areas of Benin, Guinea, and Togo; train 46 health providers in maternal deaths support, and 25 logisticians on last-mile supply chain. Now in Thailand, the UNFPA initiative is aimed at improving maternal health care access and contraceptive services for more than 230,000 women, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and adolescent mothers in high-risk and remote, mountainous areas home to Indigenous communities.

5. Global Citizens Help Launch the Legal Empowerment Fund to Close the Justice Equity Gap

Almost 5 billion people across the world lack access to justice, due to systematic gender and racial inequalities within justice systems. Hosted by the Fund for Global Human Rights, the Legal Empowerment Fund was launched during the 24-hour Global Citizen Live broadcast in 2021, as a 10-year multi-million dollar mission to close the global justice gap and bring equal legal protection to the billions of people living without access to justice. The Hewlett Foundation, Mott Foundation, and Namati organization were key partners in helping launch the fund.

Reimagining justice means building legal systems that work for everyone, and making legal services accessible to historically excluded groups, as well as ensuring communities get access to the funding and resources needed to learn more about their rights and how to advocate for them.

The Legal Empowerment Fund (LEF) is set to provide urgently needed, long-term support to grassroots activists and organizations that are helping their communities tackle systemic injustices and advocate for expanded protections under the law.

6. Equal Justice for All and Investing in Small Businesses That Prioritize Marginalized Communities

In 2020, software company SAP announced support for the Acumen Fund as part of the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign and broadcast event. SAP’s commitment to Acumen is helping the organization invest in businesses aiding COVID-19 relief, social entrepreneurship, and programs such as Acceso Colombia and Azahar Coffee — both of which are helping smallholder farmers independently access the retail market — to help communities struggling with high poverty rates and economic exclusion.

SAP funding also went toward the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, an organization that works to challenge racial and economic injustice by ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States. Bryan Stevenson — winner of the Global Citizen of the Year award at Global Citizen Prize 2020 — founded the initiative, which works on criminal justice reform, representing individuals on death row and children in adult prisons, exposing police misconduct, and more.

It’s up to us, as Global Citizens, to demand that global leaders prioritize social justice and commit to building a more inclusive, fair, and just world for everyone. 

You can join Global Citizen in campaigning to Demand Equity, by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action calling on governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change to defeat extreme poverty and its systemic causes.


Demand Equity

6 Important Ways Your Actions Have Helped Drive Racial Equity

By Camille May