Malala Yousafzaii

Read the vital open letter to world leaders, signed by Malala Yousafzai, Tarana Burke and Patrisse Cullors

Posted by for People

Activists have come together to call for global leaders to take action on the climate crisis, gender inequality and poverty. Here’s why that’s so important. 

Climate change, gender inequality and poverty are three of the biggest crises affecting our world right now. Our global leaders urgently need to act. That’s why an open letter declaring a state of “emergency” for our people and planet – signed by 20 of the most influential activists and campaigners – is so significant.

Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai; founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke; and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors are three of the remarkable women who have signed the letter.

It comes one week on from UN secretary-general António Guterres calling on the international community to make the 2020s the “decade of action” and 2020 the “year of urgency”.

Ranging from ages 10-94, the 20 leading gender, climate, environmental, equality, justice and human rights campaigners authoring the letter also include: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad; co-founder of Bring Back Our Girls, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili; environmental campaigners Dr. Jane Goodall DBE and Yann Arthus-Bertrand; gender equality campaigners Lydia Cacho, Jaha Dukureh, Dr. Alaa Murabit and Trisha Shetty; and social justice and human rights campaigners Emi Mahmoud, Kumi Naidoo, Kennedy Odede, Sophie Cruz and Raull Santiago.

2000 more supporters have also added their names to the letter and backed this call to action. Signatories from the worlds of arts, culture, sports, philanthropy and civil society include: Michelle Yeoh, Saoirse Ronan, Sinéad Burke, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Carey Mulligan, Richard Curtis, Emma Watson and Blake Lively.

Read the letter below:

Malala Yousafzai, Tarana Burke and Nadia Murad have signed the open letter.

Speaking about the urgency of the letter, Burke said:  “The Global Goals are a solutions-focused plan that the world needs. They are as much about what is happening in the USA as in Uganda. They build on a vision of a world in which women and girls can live free from violence, harassment and discrimination, but we all know that is a long way off. That’s why we must use these Goals as a tool to hold our leaders to account and to boost all our efforts. I’m proud to stand with climate campaigners, human rights defenders, education activists today to send a clear message to leaders that these Goals are all our Goals. We are ready – and we are watching – for action.”

Watch the supporting video directed by campaign supporter Richard Curtis

Murad added: “Unity gives us strength and that is why I am proud to stand with 19 other activists for the first time through this letter. 2020 could mark the beginning of a new era – when peace is a priority and the world comes together to achieve these Goals. The only thing that will stand in the way is a lack of political will and commitment. Together we call on world leaders to act now.”

The open letter has been issued to highlight the need for immediate action, including at key 2020 moments, if the world is to meet the Global Goals. It demands sustained innovation, financing and action over the crucial decade ahead to 2030. Recent reports underline the need for swift action; at least half the global population does not have access to essential health services, hunger is on the rise after a prolonged decline, and at the current rate of progress, it will take almost 100 years to close the global gender gap. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are reaching record levels and key ecosystems are on the verge of collapse with one million species in near-term danger of extinction.

The letter is accompanied by a public campaign asking citizens to show their support by sharing the letter and to join this effort for people and planet by using #GlobalGoals.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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