by Margareta Rončević
A few weeks back, my friend sent me a link to The ONE Campaign official page saying it was something I might be interested in. A global campaign fighting extreme poverty and sexism, advocating sustainable development and transparency? Sign me up!
I immediately started researching about it, discovering more and more about their successes and different schemes. One of them, The ONE Youth Ambassadors, offers people like me a chance to directly join the campaign and become an active participant in it.
I was selected as one of the 55 UK Youth Ambassadors this year and went to London on the January 30 to do my training. The training lasted for 2 days, and it was full of positive people who are passionate about the goals and the purpose of the campaign – both ambassadors and professionals working at ONE. We had the opportunity to learn about social media and the best way to use it when advocating and how to get in touch with our MPs.
One of the peaks of the training, at least for me, was a speech by Owen Jones who came to meet us before holding a protest against Donald Trump. Knowing that a few hours later he would be heading to that protest, which was attended by thousands, was inspiring and motivating. With his eloquent and captivating public speaking skills, he will definitely make you question your political preferences.
It was powerful to listen to him talk about the rise of populism and nationalism, the blame of immigrants for national problems and the counter effect it has on our society – all of these topics making news headlines and being normalised and accepted by a certain part of population.
The day after, we headed to Parliament, which made me become personally frustrated. The lobby, hallways, passages, doors, chandeliers were covered in gold other expensive chemical elements. Seeing that materialised injustice only made me more eager to advocate for ONE and further.
The highlight of our visit was a talk with Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Tooting MP. She didn’t talk much about the parties and politics; rather, she focused on implementing the humanitarian work she did while in the numerous countries of Africa and the Middle East.
With a sense of wit and humour, she spoke about her admirable career as a doctor and showed she is an approachable person. That was very encouraging because part of our work as an ambassador is getting meetings with our local MPs, and talking to Dr Allin-Khan made us optimistic that such meetings do not need to be uptight. The Q&A session was way too short for us, nevertheless we did manage to get some advice regarding our future work as ambassadors.
The current work of ONE is centred around its main campaign – Poverty Is Sexist. In a world where sexism is surrounding us and people are finally acknowledging it more and more, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you find out that even being poor and not being able to get any education is to a certain extent defined by your gender.
Women are more likely to be denied education than men – because women get pregnant, get married, are expected to stay at home and take care of their families or simply because they are women. Without education, we are denied work, experience, independence and progress.We will be lobbying for this cause on March 1 at Parliament where we will meet our MPs.
As Owen Jones told us: “We need human stories and experiences rather than statistics.” Of course, facts and figures are helpful and a necessity when proving a point, especially for a campaign like ONE. We need to work together towards the stopping of dehumanisation of everyone who is not on the same geographical territory, in the same socio-economic sphere or has different cultural and physical features. Cultures, beliefs and ways of livelihoods that we do not understand or haven’t encountered before mustn’t be treated as a national threat.
The ONE campaign is aiming to help breaking the barriers and give people like you and me guidance to do the same. I see it as a great opportunity to explore your options as an advocate of a certain cause you are passionate about and develop your strategies. Yet, you do not necessarily need to become a ONE Youth Ambassador. Being kind and accepting on a daily basis is something a lot of people struggle with, so mastering that is already a positive change.
ONE to me is a wonderful comfort zone. By that I mean it is a place where I found more people like myself and where I don’t have to explain why I want to be a part of something that helps people I have never met before and probably never will.
The real challenge is reaching out to those who demand an explanation of our work and advocacy, who are unsure about the purpose of breaking down barriers and are maybe scared of the idea of it. Learning how to understand those people and situations is my priority for this year that I will spend with ONE together with advocating.
For now, my work as a ONE Youth Ambassador has been rewarding and I am confident it will only become more so in the coming months.