Celebrities call on Merkel to help end female poverty

Being one of the world's most powerful women comes with a long list of responsibilities, but as International Women's Day draws to a close, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been called upon to help solve another global issue.

Alongside another senior female figure in politics, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa's Minister of Health, Merkel has been asked by 36 high-profile women to help end female poverty by 2030.

These women include celebrities like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Meryl Streep, and businesswomen like Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg, and are petitioning on behalf of ONE, an anti-poverty group co-founded by pop star Bono.

Angela Merkel
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Angela Merkel

Both Merkel and Dlamini-Zuma will chair major international summits in June and ONE called on the politicians to use these meetings to further the cause of poverty-struck women.

In an open letter posted on ONE.org and addressed directly to Merkel and Dlamini-Zuma the group said:

"If your summits reach the right agreements, great financing and momentum around girls and women's empowerment can be placed at the heart of the new global goals. That in turn will frame how global policies are decided, and trillions of dollars spent, over the next 15 years."

"If we get this right, we could help lift every girl and woman out of poverty by 2030 – and by doing so we will lift everyone. Get this wrong and extreme poverty, inequality and instability might spread in the most vulnerable regions, impacting all our futures," it later added.

Merkel will chair this year's G-7 summit on June 7-8, while Dlamini-Zuma will chair the African Union summit. The 41st meeting of the G-7 countries—the world's seven richest countries—will see powerful leaders assemble in Bavaria, Germany, to discuss the world's economy, in addition to development, security and foreign policies.

Both the G-7 and the African Union summits come ahead of an important United Nations (UN) meeting in July. This meeting is for global policymakers to establish new "sustainable development goals," which will set the agenda in future years for global efforts to support development in poorer countries.

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'Poverty is sexist'

ONE's petition stated that "poverty is sexist" and that "girls and women get a raw deal"—but added that every female could be lifted out of poverty within 15 years if the right efforts were made.

"The course you set as leaders in this historic year will be critical in either creating momentum or slowing it down," the letter concluded.

Other high-profile women who have signed ONE's petition include Sarah Silverman and Lauren Bush Lauren.

More than 45,700 people have signed the petition so far, which ONE hopes will garner 200,000 signatures.

The petition reflects ONE.org's earlier research that suggests that "almost a billion extra people face a life of extreme poverty" if leaders do not make key decisions at both the UN Special Summit of Sustainable Development and the UN Climate Summit later this year.

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