Queen Rania Adovcates for Girls' Education at Women in the World Summit

March 14, 2010

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- New York) At the "Women in the World" summit held at the Hudson Theatre in New York City yesterday, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan spoke to some of the world’s most powerful women about the importance of educating 600 million girls around the world who are still left on the sidelines, lost in a world where “nonsense prevails.”

“Nonsense like girls walking 10 kilometers every day on empty stomachs to find water for their families; nonsense like girls denied the chance to go to school for a lifetime of cooking, cleaning and childcare; nonsense like girls thrust into marriages they’re too young to understand,” Queen Rania told women attending the summit including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CBS’s Katie Couric and 300 other activists and leaders of women’s rights organizations.

The three-day summit, co-hosted by The Daily Beast, Vital Voices Global Partnership, the U.N. Foundation, and Diane von Furstenberg, discusses the urgent challenges facing women and girls around the world, from sex slavery to child marriage to domestic violence and lack of education.

Speaking at the event on behalf of all those children who are still being denied access to basic education, Queen Rania said: “For over 600 million girls around the world, this nonsensical reality is their daily reality where the four walls of inequality, injustice, indignity, and ignorance close in around them limiting their potential at a time when it should be limitless.”

Reminding the audience just how influential and transformational girls can be to our societies, Queen Rania asserted: “When a girl goes to high school, she’s equipped, empowered and inspired to break the cycle of poverty that shackles her to hopelessness. And when you break the cycle of poverty, you spark a cycle of prosperity. You raise nations.”

Also at the event, Her Majesty went on to explain how increasing the share of women with secondary education by 1%, increases a country’s annual per capita income growth by an average of 0.3%. For a country like India, she continued, that amounts to nearly $36 billion a year.

However, although girls’ education makes both financial and social sense, continued Queen Rania, it is frustrating to see how it has not yet simply become common sense.

With new ways to approach education available to us through innovations in technology and social media, we can make a real difference by reaching out to people in every corner of the world.

With mobile phone technology, twitter and facebook, “we can rally the masses around causes we care about.” This is not only about raising money, stressed Her Majesty, but rescuing survivors and reconnecting loved ones as exemplified in the aftermath of the Haiti quake.

So, when it comes to girl’s education, said the Queen, “if we can leverage synergies between the worlds of media, social online networks, and NGOs working with girls, we can do something that’s never been done before. We can make girls’ voices and videos of their lives go viral, we can be their mouthpieces and take their message to the masses, we can push politicians to prioritize girls in global politics.”

Following the remarks, CBS’s Katie Couric interviewed Queen Rania who, once again, reiterated the urgency to provide justice to girls through quality education.

“With just five years to go until the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline, education needs to be made a priority for there to be any hope of reaching our targets,” stressed the Queen.

“That makes 2010 do or die for girls and education. I’m not just speaking metaphorically. For many of these girls, it’s a matter of life and death,” she added.

Since education can provide the solution to some of the world's toughest social and economic challenges, Her Majesty said, “Educating a girl is probably the highest returning investment that a country can make.”

For example, “If every child was in school today we’d prevent 7 million cases of HIV in the next decade. With nearly 3 million new cases a year, that’s a huge impact,” added the Queen.

Attending the three-day summit, co-founder and editor in chief of The Daily Beast as well as sponsor of the event, Tina Brown said: “Empowering women is the key to peace, prosperity, and progress, not just here in the United States, but also in countries where women have endured repression for centuries.”

At the opening of the summit on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, delivered remarks to introduce an exclusive, one-night reading of the documentary play, SEVEN, which tells the inspiring personal stories of courageous women from all over the world. "It's not just that women's rights are human rights, but women's progress is human progress," said Secretary Clinton.