One SC Woman Making a Difference - Globally
This is another column in an occasional series about people in South Carolina who are making a difference. Jennifer Jones-Wood is our guest columnist and she writes about her work in South Carolina to help young girls around the world.
Today, 130,000,000 girls do not have access to education. Please let that sink in.
One hundred and thirty million girls do not have access to education. If you were to count from 1 to 130,000,000 without stopping it would take you approximately eight years. Now that I have your attention let me tell you about The ONE Campaign.
ONE was started in May of 2004 by U2 front man Bono and Bobby Shriver whose family started Special Olympics. ONE is an international, non-partisan, non-profit, advocacy group that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising awareness and encouraging political leaders to support policies and programs that are saving lives and improving futures.
The reason I initially joined the now nearly 8 million members was simple; I was at a U2 concert and Bono asked me to. I am now the ONE Congressional District Leader for South Carolina’s, 1st District.
Now, 12 years after that evening, I understand the power ONE voice can have. I have signed petitions. I have made phone calls. I have written letters. I have joined other volunteer leaders on Capitol Hill and met with aides, Congressmen and Senators. All with the same goal: to help the least of these!
There is a lot of loose rhetoric from politicians about how much we spend on foreign aid. A recent poll found that people think about 25% of the US Government’s budget goes for foreign aid; the simple truth is it’s less than 1%… and Pres. Trump’s proposed budget would cut this amount by one third.
I have been working as the Congressional Leader for ONE for almost three years and a big part of my job is to recruit volunteers to help with a wide variety of activities. Right now, as I type this, I am sitting at Chick-fil-A on Savannah Highway in Charleston waiting to meet a potential volunteer.
For me, advocacy is easy. It is easy to fight for those who don’t have the ability or resources to fight for themselves. Finding other people who have the same passion, drive and time I have to volunteer for this organization is difficult and often times disheartening. My leadership team consists of my two school aged daughters and a few big-hearted friends. While it isn’t hard to find people at the Marion Square farmers market to sign a petition or even write a letter, but getting the same people to don a ONE t-shirt and help out soliciting others is a different story entirely.
But, I’m proud of what we have done to raise awareness and recruit new people. Just a few examples: we had ONE night at the Joseph Riley River Dogs Stadium, tabling events at Triangle Char Bar, a booth at Purple Thursday at Brittlebank Park, an “Under ONE Sky” event at the United States Custom House to bring awareness to the Global Goals and a rainbow infused table at Charleston Pride annual celebration.
Recently, we have marched around downtown Charleston with our Presidential Podium asking folks what they would do if elected President for our ONEVote ’16 Campaign. The most successful event was when Seacoast Church partnered with us for the annual women’s conference called “Chosen”. We had nearly 1,000 ladies write to Senator Lindsay Graham about the importance of nutrition for women and children primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
My two young daughters have been my inspiration for our work with ONE’s Poverty is Sexist Campaign. An African proverb says, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.”
By providing an education to a girl, she is far more likely to also ensure her children receive an education. Numerous studies have shown that investing in girl’s education leads to more substantial family incomes, increases her ability to take control of her life, improves the socioeconomic growth in her community and ultimately helps bring her family out of poverty.
Without education, girls are more likely to become a child bride, contract HIV or become a victim of human trafficking – and worse
We need to press our leaders to act – to make sure these girls get the education they deserve – something we in South Carolina and the US take for granted.
They need your help! They need your voice!
Our work is achieving results.
Beginning from a small project that reached only 52,000 in 2002, our collective advocacy efforts have helped ONE reach more than 10.7 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa today to now have access to lifesaving AIDS medication. Also, partly due to ONE’s efforts, since 2000, malaria deaths have been cut by 66% in sub-Saharan Africa.
In just 2016 alone, the ONE Campaign obtained €730 million more from the European Union for the refugee crisis and development program. And, in the US, the Electrify Africa Act that was passed by Congress will help bringing sustainable power to the 589,000,000 Africans who do not have access to electricity. The Act will also provide $13 billion for the Global Fund that is accelerating the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.
Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live. The goal of ONE is to completely eradicate global poverty by the year 2030.
I hope you will join with 7,853,960 members worldwide by going to www.ONE.org and get involved. And, get involved with us in South Carolina, I would love to have you become a part of my volunteer leadership team.
YOU can change the world ONE voice and ONE action at a time.
Jennifer Jones-Woods is a native of Northern Virginia who has called Charleston home for 15 years now where she now lives with her two daughters and husband. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.