It is not every day that a Bryant student leader is invited to participate in a national conference dedicated to ending extreme poverty in our capital. From Saturday, February 24th to Wednesday, February 28th, junior Victoria Eastman attended ONE Campaign’s Annual Power Summit in Washington D.C. ONE Campaign is an international non-partisan advocacy organization of 9 million members working to eradicating extreme poverty and preventable diseases. ONE primarily works to affect change in sub-Saharan Africa, where the population suffers most from the conditions of extreme poverty. Their latest campaign, Poverty is Sexist, focuses on combating poverty and gender inequality through increased access to education. Bryant’s ONE leaders raise their voices to influence Congress decision-making and build awareness of these issues within the campus community.
The Power Summit featured an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including ONE CEO Gayle Smith, the female CEO of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, Reuben E. Brigety II. Advice that many students and all individuals should follow, Gayle Smith advised to “listen as much as you talk”. In addition, ONE student representatives were privileged to hear from Bulgarian born Kristalina Georgieva, whose experience as the CEO of the World Bank gives perspective on the importance of defending foreign aid. The World Bank makes sure there are opportunities everywhere by focusing on the eradication of extreme poverty and the distribution of prosperity. According to Kristalina, “If we woke up tomorrow in a gender-equal world, we would be $12 trillion wealthier, and it starts with getting girls in school.” Because of this, and many other reasons, poverty is sexist. 130 million girls are not in school because they do not have equal opportunities. Ambassador Reuben E Brigety II added, “Development is necessary so that young people can flourish in their own countries.” These experts underlined the importance of foreign assistance as a tool to combat gender inequality and a critical national security measure.
There is an essential reason why Victoria and many other volunteers were in DC that weekend. Kristalina Georgieva emphasizes that we, in a democratic country, are the voices of the voiceless. She stated, “Make sure the voices of these children are heard in the highest corridors of power. You speak for them.” Victoria and many other ONE members have dedicated themselves to advocating for those who cannot for themselves. Following
this charge, Victoria met with Rhode Island congressmen about the importance of protecting foreign aid and urged them to support the BUILD Act, introduced that morning. This bill, if passed, would create opportunities for American entrepreneurs who want to invest in riskier African nations. During her time on Capitol Hill, she had the privilege of meeting with Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a friend to President Machtley, for the third time since joining ONE. The senator continues to support overseas development initiatives; ONE hopes that he will agree to co-sponsor the BUILD Act. Representative David Cicilline, who previously sponsored the Electrify Africa Act, which ONE supported, also made time to meet with Victoria and express his support for the organization.
Victoria and the rest of the Bryant ONE Campaign leadership, work to educate Bryant students on extreme poverty and the power of education. ONE will be celebrating International Women’s Day on March 7th with a screening of Mama Rwanda, a documentary telling how two Rwandan women who transformed the nation devastated by genocide, into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In addition, ONE campaign regularly hosts movie screenings and other events throughout the semester. More information regarding their events can be found on their Facebook page. If interested in learning more about or getting involved with ONE, contact Victoria Eastman at email@example.com.