What Is a Global Citizen?
This is the path to ending extreme poverty.
They've advocated for better access to water and sanitation in India, spurred Canada to invest in education in emergencies, and joined Rihanna to call for the education of millions of girls around the world.
After these campaigns are announced, they undergo rigorous accountability assessments by the Global Citizen team. Here's the story of how the South African government committed to improve menstrual health in 5,000 schools. Here's how Nigeria's commitment to end open defecation is faring. The fight to end honor killings in Pakistan, meanwhile, has made major breakthroughs.
Beyond working to improve the world, global citizens have also attended music festivals with some of the biggest artists in the world — Beyoncé, Green Day, Kendrick Lamar, to name a few — because every time they take action, they earn points that can be redeemed for concerts and other cultural events.
Since the Global Citizen movement began in 2011, Global Citizens have helped to secure more than $37.9 billion in commitments from governments, corporations, and private foundations to address a broad range of issues that will affect more than 2.25 billion people.
That makes it seem like Global Citizens are super activists. And while some of them are, most are regular folks who want to help solve major problems, while also hanging out with Rihanna in their free time.
At its core, being a Global Citizen simply means believing that extreme poverty and all of its related symptoms and causes can be ended if enough people take action.
It means learning about the systemic causes of extreme poverty — lack of equal opportunity, education, access to food, health care, and clean water, and being inspired to take action.
And it means knowing that when we use our voices together, it can inspire lasting change for people living in extreme poverty around the world.
How Global Citizen Works
Extreme poverty is technically defined as a person living on less than $1.90 USD a day, but the consequences and causes of poverty go far beyond daily finances.
Global Citizen campaigns to improve all the conditions that determine a person’s welfare and people are able to learn about these topics on our website, through the app, and at events like music festivals.
Then they’re able to take actions such as signing petitions or sending emails to government officials to show their support and call for change.
If enough Global Citizens take part in a campaign, governments, institutions, and private sector organizations can be pressured to make lasting changes, whether it’s by committing money to girls' education or amending laws.
And then we hold leaders to account for their commitments. The Global Citizen team monitors each commitment to make sure they’re being achieved. You can check out our impact reports here.
Sometimes campaigns target specific, short-term goals, while other times they’re aimed more at more systemic change.
Global Citizens have taken hundreds of thousands of actions over the past several years to improve access to water and sanitation around the world. During the 2016 Global Citizen Festival India, for instance, the Indian government announced that it would end open defecation for 550 million following more than 2 million festival actions from Global Citizens.
Another major campaign of the past few years has been Level the Law, which seeks to repeal sexist laws around the world that prevent women from owning land, getting a divorce, filing sexual assault claims, and even obtaining citizenship papers.
When more than 43,000 Global Citizens called on Pfizer to lower the price of its pneumonia vaccine for humanitarian purposes, the company quickly agreed to do so, potentially saving the lives of tens of thousands of refugee children.
For years, Global Citizen has campaigned to eradicate polio worldwide, and in late 2017, we again learned that persistence pays off when the Canadian government agreed to commit $100 million to the cause.
“Thank you for your calls, tweets, and signatures, your voice counts and your actions matter.” Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, declared at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta on June 16, 2017. “Thank you for being a Global Citizen.”
Read More: Of All the Problems in the World, Why Polio?
When US President Donald Trump announced that the country would stop funding family planning efforts around the world in early 2017, Global Citizen helped to rally an international coalition to fill the ensuing funding gap. In less than a month, the #SheDecides campaign raised $190 million from public and private partnerships.
Strength in numbers was apparent on another women’s rights campaign.
Around the world, just 1% of the supply contracts from corporations go to women-owned businesses, and Global Citizen brought this injustice to the attention of major corporations like UPS, Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson.
After roughly 30,000 Global Citizens called on these companies to increase gender parity across their supply chains, all three committed $100 million each to purchasing from women-owned businesses over the next three year. Marriott International upped the ante in 2019, pledging $100 million to women-owned businesses.
Global Citizen returned to Central Park in 2018 and secured $7.6 billion in commitments after 2.1 million actions were taken by global citizens.
Norway pledged $200 million to fight ocean plastic, The Gambia vowed to repeal all the sexist laws that it has on the books, and the Asian Development Bank committed $6.1 billion to water and sanitation iniatitives.
“Tonight, I renew our commitment to the protection and advancement of the rights of women and girls and reaffirm our belief that only through genuine and concerted efforts can we indeed level the law,” said Abubacarr Tambadou, The Gambia's minister of Justice, said at the event.
Later that year, Global Citizens took another 5.65 million actions for the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johanessburg, South Africa, that led to more than 60 commitments worth more than $7.2 billion.
During the festival, the US committed $1.2 billion to the fight against HIV/AIDS, South Africa vowed to ensure universal free education for children living in poverty, Nigerian leaders vowed to end open defecation in the country, and Germany increased its efforts in the fight against hunger.
“With the 2030 Agenda, the nations of the world have pledged to give all people the chance to live healthy and safe lives of their own devising. Overcoming poverty and hunger is the prerequisite for this — and will also follow from it," said Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, at the festival. "One of our first tasks, therefore, is to increase food production. That would also create better job opportunities and livelihoods in rural areas."
Global Citizens aren’t just taking action — they also get to have fun.
To reward Global Citizens for taking action, we offer access to our festivals, which have taken place in the US, India, the UK, Germany, Canada, and South Africa. We also have tickets available for music, comedy, and sporting events in cities all over the world.
Global Citizen festivals and events also offer public and private sector leaders a stage to announce commitments they’re making toward our issues.
During the 2017 Global Citizen Festival more than 1.6 million Global Citizens took action that led to $3.2 billion in commitments.
Denmark, for instance, announced it would invest $110 million in women’s health initiatives in 2018 after more than 54,000 Global Citizens took action leading up to the festival.
“How can a young girl go to school, if she is forced to marry? Or if her road to school is unsafe? Or if pregnancy forces her to drop out?” Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark, said on the festival stage. “Global Citizens: We need to act on this. Denmark may be a small country, but our voices are loud.”
That message captured the essence of Global Citizen — to give each voice the strength of many.
And it was echoed throughout the event. The festival was just one stop along the journey toward ending extreme poverty, but by pausing, celebrating progress, and looking forward, we were able to get closer to that ultimate goal.
ACTIVATE: THE GLOBAL CITIZEN MOVEMENT is a six-part documentary series from National Geographic and Procter & Gamble, co-produced by Global Citizen and RadicalMedia. ACTIVATE raises awareness around extreme poverty, inequality, and sustainability issues to mobilize global citizens to take action and drive meaningful and lasting change. The series will premiere globally in fall 2019 on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages. You can learn more here.