World leaders – and Beyonce! – gathered at New York’s Central Park over the weekend for the Global Citizen Festival, where the fight for girls’ right to an education took centre stage.
The event – an annual festival hosted by the Global Poverty Party, founded by Aussie humanitarian Hugh Evans – sounded like quite the party. Alongside a stirring speech from Malala Yousafzai and some Beyo jams, US First Lady Michelle Obama launched her #62MillionGirls project.
“Right now, 62 million girls are not in school. And what’s important to know is that these are our girls,” Obama told the audience. “They deserve the same chances to get an education as my daughters and your daughters and all of our children.”
Touching on last week’s report that found gender equality in the labour force could increase the global GDP by $12 trillion, Obama said ensuring girls’ schooling was the key to ending global poverty. “It’s the only way to ensure that these girls can fulfill their potential, provide for their families and contribute fully to their countries,” she said.
As part of the campaign, the First Lady then called on supporters to tweet pictures of themselves, alongside their answers to the question, “What did I learn in school?”
The campaign has already drawn a stack of big-name backers, and their responses are inspiring:
As Yahoo notes, other speakers at the event included Hugh Jackman, Leonardo Di Caprio, Bono and Pearl Jam, but Malala, of course, stole the show with a passionate speech on the importance of education.
“It is a book and a pen that can change the life of a child – it’s not a gun,” she told the crowd. “It was a gun that hit me on the left side of my forehead, it was a gun that hit my two friends, it wasn’t a pen. But it was a pen that really helped us go forward in our lives.”
Perhaps almost as importantly, the event also gave us this picture: