‘We must fight for the quarter of a billion young people still denied an education,’ the singer and Fenty Beauty mogul wrote in a Guardian op-ed
Rihanna is putting in work to fight for kids’ right to education.
The 30-year-old singer, who raised nearly $6 million to help young people around the world through her Clara Lionel Foundation last week, wrote an op-ed in the Guardian about the importance of education for girls.
The Fenty beauty founder spoke about taking her own education for granted growing up in Barbados. She admitted that she didn’t always “love school,” because she preferred to be singing or playing sports. Now, she wrote, she realizes the hardships some kids face to even get into a classroom, and how crucial it is that they get to school.
“I realize now that I often took it for granted that I was even able to go to school,” she wrote. “Education can be stolen from you in a second. As we’ve seen recently on an unprecedented scaled, the Caribbean gets hit by natural disasters that wipe out schools, leaving thousands of children stranded.”
She also noted that the difficult political climate in countries around the world hinders kids from learning: “In other parts of the world, conflict, poverty, deeply ingrained sexism, and bad public policy keep more than a quarter of a billion children and teens from getting an education,” she wrote.
For each additional year of primary schooling, a young woman’s income increases by up to 20%, according to UNICEF. RiRi noted that in Ethiopia, for example, 93% of girls are in primary school and 96% are in middle school and the price tag on educating a child currently not enrolled in school is estimated to be just over $50 a year.
Global activism for female education has been the life mission of human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012 on her way to school for publicly speaking out about quality education. The Malala Fund has been working since 2013 in partnership with other organizations, the private sector and governments around the globe to help give young women access to their right to 12 years of free education. In 2014, Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history for her human rights efforts.
Rihanna said she has made it her mission to provide financial backing to communities in need, particularly after a trip to the African nation of Malawi motivated her to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012. Her foundation has spearheaded initiatives including a global scholarship program to students from place like Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica who have been accepted to an accredited four-year college or university in the U.S. Clara Lionel has a program geared towards children living in Rihanna’s native Barbados to provide grants for schools on the island, and also helps provide access to quality cancer screenings and treatment.
“We fund programs that remove barriers to education by offering financial support to children and their communities,” she said. “And following our time in Malawi, I am proud to say we are supporting thousands of girls there to move through secondary school.”
“If we can overcome the education deficit in the developing world,” Rihanna concluded, “everybody wins.”
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