To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to honour just a handful of influential women (out of a few million) who have really made a difference when it comes to girls’ education globally. With shocking statistics revealing that in 2017 there were 130 million girls across the globe who were out of school, the importance of girls’ education is undeniable. Using their voices, influence and leadership, these inspirational women have already made so much progress and are continually pushing to raise awareness and help girls that don’t have access to quality schooling. Today we want to celebrate their greatness!
Malala Yousafzai risked going to school as a young teen and in turn defied Pakistani extremists meaning she suffered violent attacks as a consequence. However, due to her tremendous courage, persistence and the values she stands for, she has now become a global icon for the importance of educating girls. In 2014 she was rightfully awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace at age 17 for her heroic and powerful actions. She is also the founder of the Malala Fund, which promotes international, national and local level policy and system changes that give girls access to a quality education. If all of that wasn’t inspirational enough, in 2017 she secured a place to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University and is still demanding progress and commitments globally for girls’ education.
“I don't want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education’. This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.” Malala Yousafzai
Chair of the Board- Global Partnership for Education
Former Prime Minister of Australia
Julia Gillard is one of the leading global advocates for strengthening education systems globally, especially for girls. Following her political career, she realised that during her hardest days as Prime Minister, the fact that they were making a difference to education and opportunity was what had motivated her. Within a few months of leaving politics she became chair of the Global Partnership for Education and has been leading concrete plans through so she can really start making a difference. In more recent months Julia has also been appointed as patron for the international education non-profit Camfed, the campaign for girls’ education. Alongside her inspiring commitments to girls’ education, Julia has also been using other channels to get her message out there and has written powerful articles for national newspapers such as The Guardian.
In a recent article for The Guardian she wrote: “The education of girls has to be at the centre of any nation’s effort to transition from poverty to prosperity. Educating the world's poorest girls can only be done with the firm commitment of many stakeholders – both domestic and international – to plan, fund and build strong, sustainable and equitable education systems.”
Former First Lady of the United States
Michelle Obama has frequently raised the importance of educating girls worldwide and used her position to raise awareness in the media and has already made a huge difference. In fact, in 2015 she launched ‘Let Girls Learn’, a project that supports community-focused girls' education around the world. Drawing on 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers the project has invested over 1 billion dollars to help build hundreds of new community projects across the globe so girls can go to and stay in school. Michelle Obama declared despite the programme’s uncertain future she’ll still advocate for young women to go to school. She’s one inspirational lady!
“Girls are our change-makers -- our future doctors and teachers and entrepreneurs. They’re our dreamers and our visionaries who could change the world as we know it.” Michelle Obama
Emma Watson is a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. During her time in this role, she has dedicated her efforts towards the empowerment of young women and has served as an advocate for the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which promotes gender equality. She has also been heavily involved in the promotion of girls’ education and has visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts, helping raise awareness of the importance of ending child marriage and bringing girls back to school. Emma shows no signs of slowing down on her journey in making positive changes for young women in education and has also served as an ambassador for Camfed International.