You probably heard about the Global Citizen Festival that was going on this weekend in Central Park in New York City because it headlined famous performers like Stephen Colbert, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Common, and Pearl Jam. Oh, yeah, and Queen Beyoncé. But the moment of the night that deserves the most attention is when First Lady Michelle Obama and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai took the stage to demand education for girls around the world.
The festival coincided with the U.N. General Assembly, which established some big goals for the next 15 years, including ambitious plans to end global poverty by 2030 and curb our current environmentally detrimental practices.
However, when Beyoncé took the stage Sunday night, her setlist made it clear that she had only one thing on her mind: Feminism. She performed “Survivor,” “Run the World (Girls),” “Single Ladies,” and “Flawless,” including quotes from feminist figures Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, and Ronda Rousey in her (as always) show-stopping set.
But when the Queen was done, the First Lady came on stage to channel that feminist energy to an important topic: girls’ education. The hashtag #62MillionGirls is a current social campaign that is working to promote awareness of the global discussion.
“Right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school,” Michelle Obama said. “As I’ve traveled around the world, I have met so many of these girls, and they are so bright and so determined to make something of themselves … These girls are our girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them.”
This conversation comes only a week after the release of the McKinsey Global Institute study that found that if women and girls had equal participation in the world labor force, we could increase our global GDP by $28 trillion. And if this all wasn’t motivation enough to get the ball rolling on girls’ education, on came Malala Yousafzai.
Malala’s struggle as an activist for girls’ education in the face of the Taliban is well known to the world, and she made it extremely clear that girls’ education needs to be the absolute top priority for the United Nations progress plans in the coming years.
“It’s not that there is lack of money in this world,” Malala said. “We have billions and trillions of dollars, but where the money goes is military; it’s things that are useless and that are not useful to society.”
#62MillionGirls without education is #62MillionGirls too many.