Michelle Obama and Julia Gillard on empowering girls around the world

By Kate Hassett

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
“If girls around the world are loud, then the world’s leaders will hear it”

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has joined first lady Michelle Obama in London to discuss Let Girls Learn.

The initiative, started by Michelle Obama, is aimed at helping adolescent girls around the world to finish school.

Speaking to an audience of 300 students at the Mulberry School for Girls in London, Gillard addressed the stark reality that showed the lack of opportunity for education in countries like South Sudan.

She spoke of the current trends showing that it will take 100 years before all girls in South Sudan will have the ability to complete a lower secondary school-level education.

“Now, I don’t want to wait 100 years. I’m not going to be here in 100 years. As young as you are, you’re not going to be here in 100 years. So our challenge is to change that timeframe so that it happens soon.”

Gillard, who has been the chair of the Global Partnership for Education since leaving office, is aiming to assist the initiative that aims to give the world’s poorest children, an education.

Both Michelle Obama and Gillard believe that there has been a more direct global focus on women and girls, due to people like Malala Yousafzai and unfortunately, the heinous crimes of Boko Haram and ISIS.

“I was prime minister in Australia. What you hear from your citizens, what they galvanise around, what they mobilise around, it does matter.

“So if you’re loud, your political leaders will hear it. If girls around the world are loud, then the world’s leaders will hear it. And we need that energy to propel what I think will be a good vision into a reality.”

Gillard’s speech followed on from the first lady telling the girls that they were her inspiration in pushing forward to enact change.

“I am always in awe of what you’re able to do, what you’re able to push through, and how hungry you are for your education; that when given the tools and opportunity, you run with it.”


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