In 2016, Glamour Magazine released its annual list of notable women, which included figures such as Gwen Stefani and Simone Biles. However, there was one standout addition to the list: U2’s frontman Bono, who ended up being named the magazine’s first “Man of the Year.”
“It’s not every superstar (or, for that matter, statesman) who can bring about $100 billion in debt cancellation for 35 of the world’s poorest countries, or persuade the U.S. government to pony up the largest contribution ever for lifesaving AIDS drugs in Africa, as President George W. Bush did in 2004,” Christiane Amanpour wrote in an article addressing the award.
“I think Bono is the perfect choice for this first-time honor because … he’s been trying to do good for as long as he’s been making music,” she continued.
But instead of making the focus about the singularity of his award, Bono took the opportunity to focus the attention on him and direct it to other issues that needed attention during a guest essay in TIME Magazine.
“I must say I quite enjoyed the trouble I got into about a year ago when I was the lone man honored as part of Glamour’s Women of the Year awards,” Bono begins in his essay. “My favorite trash-talking tweet came from a woman who said that in my defense, my glasses did make me look like a 75-year-old granny from Miami.”
He then goes on to describe how the influence of his wife and daughters caused him to look at the issue in more depth, glad that he is the one to spearhead the debate about equality rights, he writes. “It seemed obvious to me that the sex who created the problem [of gender inequality] might have some responsibility for undoing it. Men can’t step back and leave it to women alone to clean up the mess we’ve made and are still making.”
Bono reasons that there may be such inequality in the world because of a fundamental gap that exists in education.
“There are 130 million girls who are not in school,” Bono writes. “That’s so many girls that, if they made up their own country, it would be bigger in population than Germany or Japan. 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.”
“This is why poverty is sexist.”
And while people have every right to be angry about the injustice, Bono continues, for change to happen, they need to do something about it.
“Give girls just one additional year of schooling and their wages go up almost 12%,” he suggests. “Give them as much schooling as boys get and things really start changing. Closing the gender gap in education could generate $112 billion to $152 billion a year for the economies of developing countries.”
He continues, “When you invest in girls and women, they rise and they lift their families, their communities, their economies and countries along with them.”
Bono ends his essay with the reminder that for there to be progress, there needs to be persistence. “We’ve had a hard lesson over the past year that the march of progress is not inevitable,” he writes. “Sexism is rampant, conscious and unconscious. I’m still working on my own.”
“[So] don’t look down on me, but don’t look up to me, either. Look across to me. I’m here. It just may be that in these times, the most important thing for men and women to do is to look across to each other–and then start moving, together, in the same direction.”
Sign Up For Our Newsletter