“Men can’t step back and leave it to women alone to clean up the mess we’ve made and are still making,” the U2 singer writes. “Misogyny, violence and poverty are problems we can’t solve at half-strength, which is the way we’ve been operating for a few millennia now.”
Bono credits his wife Ali and two daughters, Eve and Jordan, with teaching him about sexism and the extent of the gender gap in education and income. “As Jordan reminds me, there is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunity as men,” Bono notes. “Nowhere. Which has something to do with the fact that around the world, there are 130 million girls who are not in school.”
“Denying girls what an education offers – a fair shot, a path out of poverty – means that women can work the land but can’t own it; they can earn the money but can’t bank it,” he continues. “This is why poverty is sexist.”
Bono points to research indicating that reducing – and eventually eliminating – the global gender gap in education is both a victory for equality and for economic growth. “The research is clear … that funding girls’ education isn’t charity but investment, and the returns are transformational,” he writes. “When you invest in girls and women, they rise and they lift their families, their communities, their economies and countries along with them.”
He says that eliminating the gender gap in education will not eliminate sexism, which he acknowledges remains “rampant, conscious and unconscious.” But in typical Bono fashion, he dismisses cynicism and urges action. “There are 130 million girls counting on women and men to get our collective act together, push for better policies and pressure politicians to do more and fund more of what works,” he writes.