Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former US President Barack Obama were speakers at the Bill and Melinda Gates “Goalkeepers” Event.
The event which took place in New York, coinciding with the UN General Assembly, was also attended by Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee and Malala Yousafzai.
The Goalkeepers event offered an opportunity to focus on positive progress – a counterpoint to a negative narrative that has dominated international headlines over the past several months.
Shaped around gender equality, purpose-driven technology, and global health, it showcased creativity with live storytelling, data visualization, new films, and appearances by performers, global health experts and everyday heroes.
Obama urged humans around the world to try to make a difference. He said:
Our challenges are real. They’ll take time to solve. But each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try.
That’s what I believe, that’s what the ‘Goalkeepers’ believe, and I am certain that if we all keep pushing forward, the world will make even more progress in the years to come.
Trudeau encouraged that women’s voices be heard. He said the faster we push toward gender equality, the faster the Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved. The world cannot move forward with half its population left behind. He said:
The Sustainable Development Goals are as ambitious as they are essential. It’s up to all of us to stand up for women’s rights, make sure women’s voices are heard, and break down stereotypes that hold women back.
And the best way to achieve equality is to directly support women around the world. The further we push ourselves toward gender equality the faster we will achieve the SDGs.
It’s that simple. A fairer, more sustainable world is within our reach – but only if women play a leading role.
A $200 million contribution was made by the Gates’ Foundation to the Global Financing Facility – a platform supporting women’s and children’s health in developing countries. Melinda Gates, speaking at the event, said:
The leaders and heroes who shared their stories today remind us that progress is possible, but not inevitable. It takes effective leadership and unwavering focus. All of us have a role to play in achieving the Global Goals.
Four multisector “accelerators” – sectors focused upon to further achieve the SDGs – were announced at the event. They are:
- Women’s Movements: The Governments of Canada and the Netherlands, Vidya Shah on behalf of the EdelGive Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, leading U.S. travel website The Points Guy, Glamour and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined together to support local grassroots women’s organizations and women’s movements, which are leading gender equality campaigns around the world, yet remain unrecognized and underfunded.
- Community Health Workers: A diverse set of actors committed to supporting the development and expansion of national community health worker programs through online platforms. Led by Last Mile Health, this accelerator includes support from TED, edX, HarvardX, Aspen Management Partners for Health, Child Relief International, Financing Alliance for Health, Global Health Alliance, Hope through Health, Living Goods, Lwala Community Alliance, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Possible Health, Project Muso, The END Fund, UBS Optimus Foundation, UN Special Envoy for Health, VillageReach and the Government of Liberia.
- Digital Financial Inclusion: Alliance for Financial Inclusion, Better than Cash Alliance, GSMA, Unilever and UNHCR are together advancing a shift from cash to digital payments through new technologies and innovative policy approaches. Their work is helping expand access to digital financial services for the world’s poorest, including an estimated 2 billion who lack access to basic financial services and the economic benefits they provide.
- Child Undernutrition: The Power of Nutrition, a platform founded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, and the UBS Optimus Foundation, UNICEF and the World Bank, multiplies contributions from new investors by at least four times to reach millions of children with high-impact nutrition interventions. Partners include Comic Relief, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Medicor Foundation, Nutrition International and Tata Trusts. With program investments already made in Ethiopia, Liberia and Tanzania, the Power of Nutrition is now planning to invest in programs in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, India and Madagascar.
Participants at the event included: Trevor Noah, comedian; Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor in chief of MuslimGirl.com; Jack Andraka, inventor, scientist and global health researcher; Memory Banda, founder of Girls4Change; Richard Curtis, screenwriter, producer and film director; Minda Dentler, athlete, polio survivor and health advocate; Stephen Fry, actor, writer and presenter; Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and leader of Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace; Jerome Jarre and Jaunpa Zurita entrepreneurs and members of Love Army, George the Poet, artist and rapper; Bina Maseno, champion for women and youth leadership; Dr. Denis Mukwege, world-renowned gynecological surgeon; Kennedy Odede, community organizer in Kibera; Dr Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health and 2017 TED Prize winner; Isha Sesay, anchor for CNN; Astro Teller, X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory; Laurel Weldon, Distinguished Professor, Purdue University will.i.am, global music artist and Big Brother Naija’s Bisola Aiyeola on behalf of ONE.org.
The event was preceded by the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards dinner, co-hosted by Melinda Gates and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.
The event honored outstanding activists who have demonstrated a positive impact on people’s lives, and who inspire others to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.
Those honored at the event were:
- Laura Ulloa, Colombia, recipient of the Young Leader Award
- Felix Manyogote, Tanzania, recipient of the Leave No One Behind Award
- Marieme Jamme, Senegal / UK, recipient of the Innovation Award
- Bernard Coulibaly, Mali, recipient of the Healthy Not Hungry Award
- President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia, recipient of the Global Goalkeeper commendation
- Ria Sharma, India, recipient of the Leadership Award
Watch the event below:
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova/Getty Images