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Canada and its Strong Stance on Sexism in Poverty
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently condemned sexism in poverty in response to a letter by the ONE Campaign. The open letter was released by Bono and the ONE Campaign on International Women’s Day in March. It was signed by some of the most influential women in the world, including Charlize Theron, Cheryl Sandberg and Angelique Kidjo.

Trudeau is the first world leader to formally respond, addressing the campaign thus: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist. Women and girls are less likely to get an education, more likely to be impoverished, and face greater risk of disease and poor health.”

According to Melinda Gates, one reason poverty is sexist is time. It takes time to finish an education, learn a new life skill or start a business. Men in developing countries are more likely to have access to this time because women are responsible for the vast majority of unpaid housework. There are also more tangible barriers restricting women’s ability to work, whether in the form of laws barring women’s employment or a lack of access to child care for working mothers.

Trudeau had the opportunity to lead by example when Canada hosted the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montréal on Sept. 16. The conference brought global health leaders together to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. According to Trudeau, such collaboration is an important step to ending sexism in poverty because young women account for 74 percent of all HIV infections among adolescents in Africa.

Canada has increased its contribution to the Global Fund by 20 percent to $785 million CDN, all of which will go toward providing mosquito nets, medication and therapy. The Global Fund aims to save millions of lives and prevent hundreds of millions of new infections by 2019.

According to the ONE Campaign, nowhere in the world do women have the same opportunities as men do, a fact due in part to the sexism inherent in poverty. Trudeau’s response is one of many steps needed to rectify this major inequality.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

milken institute global conference
Philanthropist Michael Milken established the Milken Institute in 1990 with a focus on the interaction between education and job growth. The institute’s mission has expanded to include advancing economic and policy solutions to create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.

The institute has also expanded its reach. At this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, guests included Matt Damon, will.i.am and Charlize Theron. The 17th annual conference attracted more than 3,500 entrepreneurs, executives, philanthropists, scientists and celebrities.

Co-founder of Water.org, Matt Damon, spoke about the water crisis, in which 780 million people in the world lack access to clean water. Damon and co-founder Gary White created the nonprofit organization to find new solutions, new financing models and real partnerships, with the vision of providing safe water and proper sanitation means for all. Water.org operates in Africa, South Asia and Central America.

Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am spoke at the conference about his experience teaching disadvantaged children from his former neighborhood in Boyle Heights, Calif. He also spoke about entrepreneurship, presenting his wristwatch phone, which was an idea he designed and created with the help of an engineering team.

Charlize Theron, founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, spoke at the conference about fighting AIDS in South Africa. Almost 6 million people in South Africa live with AIDS. Theron, a native of South Africa herself, established the project in 2007 to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The youth of Africa are particularly vulnerable to HIV for many reasons including gender inequity, high crime rates, lack of cohesive family units, high incidence of rape, lack of information, chronic unemployment and lack of access to health services. The project focuses on community-based organizations and gives support in the form of grants, networking and building collaborative relationships based on trust and respect.

The Milken Institute Global Conference is organized into more than 160 panels that are grouped into 11 categories, including education, philanthropy, aging, health and environment. Next year’s conference will be held April 26-29.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Forbes, Look to the Stars, Milken Institute, Water.org
Photo: Fulloma

Charlize-Theron-South-Africa-AIDS
On July 29, Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron urged the youth of South Africa to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS in order to stay healthy. The speech took place after her meeting with President Jacob Zuma, where they discussed South Africa’s response to HIV/AIDS and her role as a UNAIDS messenger of peace. UNAIDS is the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS.

The South African-born actress told reporters at the Union Building in Pretoria, “We are all here to support you. You are the future of this country and I am asking you to seize the opportunity to lead healthy and empowered lives.”

“It’s always very special for me to be able to come home and even more when I have a chance to lend my support to the youth of this country,” said Theron, speaking to the youth wearing a red AIDS ribbon.

Known for her glamorous red carpet photos, perfume advertisements, and movie roles, Theron said South Africa has come a long way in its response to the HIV epidemic, but too many girls and young women are still falling through the cracks and should not be forgotten. The social stigma associated with the virus in some areas of South Africa still needs to be addressed. Women should be empowered enough to protect themselves whether or not they chose to be sexually active, Theron said.

Theron went on to say she regarded a safe school environment, with teachers and counselors who were equipped to help, as key effort in the response to HIV/AIDS. In 2009 Theron was named the UN Messenger of Peace, tasked with promoting efforts to end violence against women. The Africa Outreach Project is one of her projects which, according to the UN, provides funding for a mobile health and computer clinic that visits high school and rural communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

Zuma proudly welcomed Theron back home. “We had a very good discussion, which we believe is going to give us a big push,” he stated to reporters. He applauded South Africa’s success in increasing life expectancy, praising Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. He said in his hometown of Nkandla, people could now talk about HIV/AIDS without fear.

After the briefing, photographers swarmed for one last photo of the glamorous movie star.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: All Africa
Photo: Firstpost