BY ESE DIBEBI
Some of Africa’s top male artists are to remix Strong Girl – a rallying cry for women’s empowerment featuring some of Africa’s top female stars that first got the world dancing in May.
In a remix of the song which originally featured Selmor Mtukudzi, Waje and Yemi Alade, among others, these strong women are now being backed by some of the leading males in African music. Lending their powerful voices to this brand new version are D’Banj, Diamond, Banky W and Femi Kuti. It will also feature Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE, and be produced by Cobhams Asuquo.
They are adding their voices to Strong Girl’s call for action because Poverty is Sexist, and we won’t end it unless world leaders act now to help girls and women reach their full potential.
“Women and girls everywhere are disadvantaged from the moment they are born. Who doesn’t want their sisters, daughters, nieces to have the same chances in life as their brothers, sons and nephews?” said Omotola Jalade Ekeinde. Continuing: “That’s why this Strong Girl remix is so important. Our message is loud and it’s impossible to ignore, I hope that our leaders are listening.”
The new remix not only amplifies Strong Girl’s powerful message that when you lift up girls and women you help everyone – it shows that men and women must join forces to stand with strong girls and women everywhere.
Speaking about the remix, D’Banj said: “We may be remixing Strong Girl but the message stays the same. Women and girls everywhere are held back, through lack of education, and of economic opportunity. This stops them from achieving their fullest potential. It’s not right and we must change this. The first step is changing this at home in Nigeria so we can show the world we are taking women’s empowerment seriously.”
Strong Girl was originally written and recorded by Arielle T, Blessing, Gabriela, Judith Sephuma, Selmor Mtukudzi, Vanessa Mdee, Victoria Kimani, Waje and Yemi Alade in April, and released on May 13th. It’s part of ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign, which calls on world leaders to implement smart policies and targeted investments in the health, education and economic empowerment of women and girls can unleash their human, social, political and economic potential.
This truly is an issue for the entire world. The fight for gender empowerment is inextricably tied to the fight against extreme poverty. But when you empower girls and women, you give global growth and justice a turbo boost.
Selmor Mtukudzi said: “Girls and women get a raw deal, especially in the developing world, and it’s time for everyone – men, women, girls and boys – to raise their voices as one and demand better. I sang on the original version as I saw how important it is to make this message loud, so now that some of my top male colleagues are adding their voices, I know that these lyrics will be impossible to ignore.”
Bono, Lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE said: “The strong men here are backing singers, or at best amplification for the Strong Girl phenomenon. Something extraordinary is happening right under our nose. ONE is part of a social movement that is centred around a brand new conversation between bright minds and impatient hearts North and South of the equator…ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign is part of that agenda. ONE has more members in Africa now than in Europe. In truth, we should have called ourselves HALF because only now are we becoming truly ONE.”
Nigeria is a key country for this to happen in, with strong influence on the continent and some good examples of progress, such as the Lagos Pact to bring more women into politics. However it also has some areas that drastically need improving, such as:
– A woman in Nigeria is 140 times more likely to die bringing a new life into the world than a woman in Norway.
– More than 4.96 million girls in Nigeria are out of school.
– Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of employed women (as a percent of total population) among countries with similar gross national incomes.
The timing couldn’t be more crucial. In just over a month the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the SDGs, will be signed by world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September. These new goals will define the next chapter of global development. If world leaders get it right, and ensure women and girls are put first, it could make us the great generation to end extreme poverty and reaching the new Global Goals for sustainable development.
Dr Sipho S. Moyo¸ ONE’s Africa Executive Director, said: “The world is at a cross roads. We can choose the path of justice and fairness by investing in girls and women, or we can let this golden opportunity slip through our fingers. When leaders meet in New York next month, they have the fate of the planet in their hands. If they truly work for the good of all, they must focus on boosting women’s access to health, economic empowerment, political participation and safety. Crucially it is up to African leaders to show the way and make this happen. We can make our continent a shining example for others to follow, but only if we make the right choices ahead of these Global Goals.”
This opportunity is a once in a generation – while it’s up to leaders to do the right thing, it is up to every citizen of every country to make sure leaders do what they promise. People power and organisations – like ONE – are the best way to hold people to their word. Pledges for action are only as good as how accountable people who make the pledges really are.
So far ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign has helped keep the pressure up. Successful African Union and G7 Summits earlier this year have seen leaders take concrete steps by implementing policies to boost women and girls. ONE has received support by high profile women including singer and entrepreneur Beyoncé, COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, actress Meryl Streep and Angelique Kidjo and other leading women from the worlds of business, arts, politics and activism, who wrote an open letter to world leaders demanding action. We’ve also had hundreds of thousands of actions from members, including tens of thousands of #strengthies – where people pose in the style of ‘Rosie the Riveter’, petitions signings and many more. Now we are making a call and asking you to lend your voice to this crucial campaign.