On women’s day celebrities seek end to extreme poverty, gender inequality



AS the 2016 International Women’s Day holds today, prominent international figures and campaigners have called on world leaders to act swiftly towards ending extreme poverty by investing in girls and women.

In an open letter, the group, under the name, “ONE”, with membership including Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, Yemi Alade, D’banj, Sheryl Sandberg, Bono, Sir Elton John, Muhammad Ali among others, observed that poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand with disturbing reports of half a billion illiterate women, 62 million uneducated girls and 155 countries operating discriminatory laws.

The group stressed that this year offers two major opportunities for world leaders to make a difference for girls and women by kick-starting processes towards ending the trend, replenishing the global fund for AIDS fight, tuberculosis, malaria, among others.

“These are crucial moments for nutrition and health because 40 percent of women in Africa suffer from anaemia which results in 20 per cent of maternal deaths and girls account for 74 percent of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa,” it stated.

ONE called for policies that would ensure equality for all as well increased access to safe and reliable energy especially by girls and women.

It urged leaders to make concerted efforts at connecting everyone to the Internet, ensuring that government, businesses and civil society open up their data for public monitoring of progress towards attainment of the global goal indicators.

Acting executive director of ONE Africa, Nachilala Nkombo, said until leaders tackled the injustice that pervades the lives of girls and women and invest in the fight against poverty, half of the world’s resources would remain untapped and everyone would be constrained socially and economically.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that more than 40, 000 girls marry daily before their 18th birthday with pregnancy-related complications remaining the second leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19.

Also, 120 million girls worldwide have experienced rape or other forced sexual acts at some points in their lives.

The disclosures were contained in a message released yesterday ahead of today’s event by the Executive Director of Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé.

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