The Power of Educating Girls

Glamour’s editor-in-chief led a panel discussion with Julia Gillard, Charlize Theron, Michelle Obama and Nurfahada. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty
Glamour’s editor-in-chief led a panel discussion with Julia Gillard, Charlize Theron, Michelle Obama, and Nurfahada. Image via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

About three months ago, Glamour magazine sponsored an event that collaborated with the White House’s Let Girls Learn Initiative. A group of female leaders — including First Lady Michelle Obama, actor and activist Charlize Theron, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the sixteen-year-old ambassador for Plan International, Nurfahada — all gathered to talk about the importance of educating girls and how doing that could in turn end a multitude of world problems.

The panel was mediated by Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive. One of the biggest reveals within the discussion was “the commitment to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and empowerment for women and girls [becoming] a part of the UN sustainable development goals.”

Michelle Obama talked about the unfortunate reality of Nurfahada’s country, the Philippines, and how girls there will often miss out on their education due to systematic violence, poverty, and teenage pregnancy. Obama gave the audience this advice: read, write, go to school, don’t be late, do your homework, get the best grade, compete with the boys, beat the boys. She then said something very empowering, something that can resonate with all of us: “I am worthy, and if I’m worthy, so are you.”

Charlize Theron, the founder of the Theron Africa Outreach Project and UN Messenger of Peace, talked about how important it is to empower women and how doing so can help to remediate world poverty, world hunger, and health issues. During the panel, Leive put forth the common notion that doing well in school makes a girl less attractive. The idea enraged Theron, and she followed by saying, “There is nothing sexier than a smart woman.”

The panel shared stories of their own education and answered questions from teens in the audience. Michelle Obama asked that all girls and women raise their standards for who stays in their life and to remember that no one should stop you from pursuing your education. Again, the common theme emerged of making girls and women feel that they are worth the time and that they deserve an education.

At the end of the discussion, Julia Gillard answered a question about how the lack of education for girls affects the people sitting right there at that discussion. She smartly answered with this:

“I want you to grow up and live in a peaceful and prosperous world and the evidence is incredibly clear that the more time people spend in school the more likely they are to support peaceful ways of resolving conflict, the more likely they are to support democracy, the more likely they are to show tolerance of other religions.

Overall, these women made it very clear that the current state for the education of girls is lacking and that changes need to be made. Not only does education need to be more widely offered, but we should be encouraging and empowering women to aim to be the greatest at whatever they decide to do.

There is a quote that says, “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Have you ever wondered what this really means? While educating boys and girls and men and women is morally right and important, there has been a positive correlation between female education and the development of their surrounding area. Interested in learning more? Here’s a link for more specifics!

 

 

A graduate of SUNY Oneonta with a BS in Biology, and a current Master's of Public Health student at the University at Buffalo. Seanna Pratt is an aspiring writer who hopes to find her home someday in a big city. You can often find her writing in coffee shops or at home binge watching her latest TV obsession. Feel free to ask her anything! Contact: seanna@germmagazine.com

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