Hollywood heavyweights sign open letter for gender equality

8 March 2016
By Fashion Quarterly

Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Tina Fey and Charlize Theron are among some of Hollywood’s most influential stars who have signed an open letter urging world leaders to fight for gender equality.

The open letter was organised by the ONE Campaign, an international campaigning and advocacy organisation that focuses on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease in Africa.

Last year ONE released its first ‘Poverty is Sexist’ report which states that 62 million girls around the world are denied the right to education, 500 million girls are unable to read and 155 countries have laws that discriminate against women.

“Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere. The fight for gender equality is global,” the letter states, which echoes the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, which is #PledgeForParity.

Other famous names who have signed the letter include Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maria Shriver, Shonda Rhimes, Lauren Bush, Katie Holmes, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Colin Farrell, Connie Britton, Bono and former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark..

Read the full letter below and sign the letter yourself.
Learn more about ONE and the Poverty is Sexist campaign.


Dear World Leaders, 

Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere. 

While the debate around this truth rages everywhere, girls and women living in extreme poverty – those often hit hardest by the injustice of gender inequality – have been left out of the conversation.

This must change. The fight for gender equity is global.

Some 62 million girls are denied the right to education. Half a billion women can’t read. 155 countries still have laws that discriminate against women. 

Last year, you signed up to end extreme poverty, and because poverty is sexist, you promised to tackle the gender inequality that keeps people poor.

This year, there are a series of historic opportunities to test your commitment and to make meaningful progress by delivering:

  • Funding in 2016 at the Nutrition for Growth and Global Fund Summits to help girls and women fight HIV and malnutrition, because it is an outrage that girls account for 74% of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa and 40% of women on the continent suffer from anaemia which results in 20% of maternal deaths;
  • Policies which support female economic empowerment: access to electricity, connectivity, education and justice, so girls and women have the right to own property, start a business and decide when and whether to marry;
  • Better data on the girls and women we can’t see, don’t know exist and therefore can’t yet deliver for.

International Women’s Day must be about advancing girls and women everywhere.


  • Ali Hewson, Founder, Edun and Nude
  • Alyse Nelson, President & CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership
  • Aminatou Sow, Digital Strategist, Co-Host, Call Your Girlfriend podcast
  • Amy Poehler, Producer, Actor and Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
  • Andrew Zimmern, Chef
  • Andrew Hozier-Byrne, Musician
  • Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-Winning Artist and Activist
  • Ann Friedman, Columnist, New York Magazine, Co-Host, Call Your Girlfriend podcast
  • Anna Loos, Actress
  • Anne V, Model
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America
  • Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
  • Arielle T, Singer and Activist
  • Asa, Singer, Songwriter and Musician
  • Ashley Judd
  • Bobby Shriver, Co-Founder, ONE and (RED)
  • Bono, Lead singer, U2 and Co-Founder of ONE and (RED)
  • Caitlin Moran, Journalist, Broadcaster and Author
  • Carey Lowell, Artist and Actress
  • Carolin Kebekus, Comedian
  • Charlize Theron, Founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and UN Messenger of Peace
  • Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour
  • Colin Farrell, Actor
  • Condoleezza Rice, Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Founding partner of RiceHadleyGates, LLC
  • Connie Britton, Emmy-Nominated Actress
  • D’Banj, Singer and Activist
  • Danai Gurira, Actor and Award-Winning Playwright
  • Derreck Kayongo, CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, Member of Executive Committee, Africa World Economic Forum
  • Sir Elton John, Founder, The Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Emma Freud, Writer and Broadcaster
  • Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
  • Femi Kuti, Musician
  • Gabriela, African Pop Star
  • George Stroumboulopoulos, Television and Radio Personality
  • Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
  • Helene Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative
  • Jeff Skoll, Social Entrepreneur, Founder & Chairman of the Skoll Foundation, Participant Media, Skoll Global Threats Fund, and Capricorn Investment Group
  • Jennifer Lopez, Entertainer, Entrepreneur and UN Advocate for Girls and Women
  • Jessie J
  • John Green, Author and YouTuber
  • Jude Kelly CBE
  • Judith Sephuma, South African Musician, Jazz and Gospel Artist
  • Kakenya Ntaiya, Founder & President, Kakenya Center for Excellence
  • Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Kathy Calvin, President & Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation
  • Katie Holmes
  • Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver
  • Laura Ling, Correspondent, Discovery Digital Networks
  • Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO & Co-Founder of FEED Projects
  • Lea DeLaria
  • Lilly Singh, Comedian, Writer and YouTuber
  • Lonnie Ali, Wife of Muhammad Ali and Co-Founder of The Muhammad Ali Center
  • Luvvie Ajayi, Writer, Digital Strategist and Executive Director, The Red Pump Project
  • Mabel van Oranje, Initiator & Chair, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage
  • Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO, Salesforce
  • Maria Shriver, Award-Winning Journalist and Founder of Shriver Media
  • Marian Salzman, CEO, Havas PR
  • Mark Ruffalo
  • Mary J Blige, Artist and Activist
  • Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Meryl Streep
  • Michele Sullivan, President, Caterpillar Foundation
  • Muhammad Ali, 3X World Heavyweight Champion and Global Humanitarian
  • Oprah Winfrey, Chairman & CEO, Oprah Media Group
  • Padma Lakshmi, Author and Host of Top Chef
  • Patricia Arquette, Actor and Activist
  • Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
  • Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
  • Rea Garvey, Musician
  • Robert Redford, Actor, Director and Environmental Activist
  • Rocky Dawuni, Grammy-Nominated International Music Star and Humanitarian Activist
  • Ruby Rose, Actress
  • Sarah Degnan Kambou, President, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  • Sean Parker, President of the Parker Foundation
  • Selmor Mtukudzi, Zimbabwean Musician
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
  • Sheryl WuDunn, Co-Author, Half the Sky and A Path Appears
  • Shonda Rhimes, Creator & CEO, Shondaland
  • Tété, Singer and Songwriter
  • Thandie Newton, Actress
  • Tina Fey, Writer, Actress and Producer
  • Tina Brown, Founder & CEO, Tina Brown Live Media and Women in the World
  • Vanessa Mdee, Afro Pop Musician
  • Victoria Kimani, African Pop Artiste
  • Yemi Alade, International Award Winner “MAMA AFRICA”

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