‘Poverty is Sexist’ is a campaign by international advocacy group ONE. It aims to encourage empowerment and justice for women and girls predominantly in Africa.
The organisation recorded a song in April called “Strong Girl”, the song originally featured nine female artists from different countries in Africa but has since been remixed to include men to show that both men and women must collaborate to destroy the link between gender and poverty.
The original, ‘Strong Girl’ features vocalists Waje (Nigeria), Victoria Kimani (Kenya), Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania), Arielle T (Gabon), Gabriela (Mozambique), Yemi Alade (Nigeria), Selmor Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Judith Sephuma (South Africa), Blessing Nwafor (South Africa) and the video stars Omotola Jalade Ekeinde (Nigeria).
“We thought that since this was the year of women’s empowerment it was important for us to really get behind the African Union’s efforts in highlighting the importance of empowering women and girls so we came up with the campaign,” said Dr Sipho Moyo, Africa Executive Director at ONE.
The campaign found women are more disadvantaged than men in poorer countries and through sectors such as health, agriculture and education, Dr Moyo uses education in Africa as an example to explain the disparity.
“In a family where resources are limited, parents are more likely to send the boy child to school than they are his sister,” she states.
She adds: “Across the sectors we are finding that women are marginalised and disadvantaged but here is the clincher, what makes it even more critical is that these barriers that are stacked up against women are clearly structural.”
Dr Moyo reckons the gender issues are more structural, from political right through to religious and that Africans have to target the issues from a policy framework perspective.
“Getting the leaders to really address the issue, in terms of policy intervention, in terms of legislative interventions and in terms of targeted budget interventions,” she says.
She expresses her excitement for the participation of men in the campaign and in the song because “empowering women is really about empowering society, it is about economic transformation”.
ONE has 2.3 million members in Africa’s biggest country, Nigeria, where they wish to fully penetrate and utilise that reach.
“We have the biggest membership in Nigeria so at a country level, if we don’t crack it in Nigeria; we will struggle to crack it in the rest of Africa,”
Moyo reiterates the importance of not creating another rift between women in rural areas and urban areas, “Policy intervention actually needs to apply to everybody in the country and that’s why this is so important and we are hoping that by taking this journey with this campaign from Africa to New York”.
ONE’s next step is taking this campaign to the United Nations general assembly this month to further drive the women empowerment narrative and with the declaration from African leaders during the African Union summit in Johannesburg earlier this year has given Dr Moyo more reassurance of success with the UN.
“The next thing is just making sure that these commitments are translated into budgets that impact the lives of women and girls and therefore impact the lives of everybody.”