NEW YORK – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Megan Thee Stallion will headline this year’s Global Citizen Festival as the anti-poverty nonprofit looks to focus attention on increasing inequality for girls and young women around the world.
Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said the Sept. 23 event at New York’s Central Park will be the centerpiece of his group’s campaign to encourage supporters, especially those in Gen Z, to take action on gender inequality, climate change and other issues.
Studies show that half of Gen Z “feel disillusioned and powerless to make a positive impact,” Evans told The Associated Press in an interview. “As long as you and I have been alive, there was almost this sense of positive momentum in the world that almost felt like the eradication of extreme poverty could be inevitable,” he said. “But the data suggests the world is now getting worse.”
According to the United Nations Population Fund, 257 million women around the world want to avoid pregnancy, but don’t have access to modern contraceptives. The fund’s partnership to provide reproductive health services is currently underfunded by $100 million.
Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations fund that helps ensure nearly 20 million children in crisis continue learning, needs $670 million for its work.
The Global Citizen Festival, which will also include performances from K-pop sensation Stray Kids and singer-songwriter Conan Gray, provides free tickets to the event in exchange for fans taking actions on the group's app and website that support these goals.
This year, that may mean asking Canada, Norway and Japan to donate more to the United Nations Population Fund. It may mean pushing companies to join the United Nations Race to Zero to set targets for reducing their carbon emissions. Or urging the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Australia to provide more funding to vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.
Global Citizen’s use of supporters to convince political, business and philanthropic leaders to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems is designed to appeal to younger generations, Evans said.
“These are pillars of what we know Gen Z cares about, but often they feel powerless because the data isn’t on their side,” Evans said. “We’re talking to Gen Z in a way that they know their actions can have a scalable impact.”
Singer Angelique Kidjo, who was recently named to this year’s Great Immigrants list by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, said that her Batonga Foundation found that supporting girls and young women ends up strengthening entire villages in her native Benin and throughout Africa.
“Helping women in a community is like starting a rolling stone that never stops rolling,” said Kidjo, adding that it was the women who kept their villages safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by making masks and soap for hand-washing, as well as enforcing social distancing.
Not only will Hill and Megan Thee Stallion provide examples of female empowerment with their performances, but Evans hopes they will encourage their fans to take action during the event, which will be streamed on numerous digital platforms.
“For many decades, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have occupied that space where music and activism meet,” said Evans, adding that the band’s classic “Under the Bridge” was the first song he learned to play on guitar. “We couldn’t be happier with this lineup.”
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