Women around the world are working to end economic gender discrimination and poverty by advocating for girls’ access to education. These 10 women are among the many who are advocating for women’s rights through education.

10 Powerful Women Fighting for Girls’ Access to Education

  1. K. Zehra Arshad: K. Zehra Arshad is the national coordinator for the Pakistan Coalition for Education and serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). She has advocated for women’s rights for years through policy-making and fights gender disparity in schools to improve girls’ access to education.
  2. Michelle Bachelet: Michelle Bachelet is the president of Chile. At the beginning of her second term in 2014, she implemented a program for public education, influenced by her earlier role as executive director of U.N. Women. While serving at the U.N., she championed the Fund for Gender Equality, which offers grants to programs that provide women equal access to quality education. Bachelet believes that the key to girls’ economic opportunities is education.
  3. Rasheda Choudhury: Rasheda Choudhury is the Vice President of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). GCE is an organization working to end the global education crisis through free, public education for all. She is also the Executive Director of the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), a group of more than a thousand educator networks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh. CAMPE has mobilized millions of people to join the fight for girls’ access to education. Choudhury is a journalist and an advocate for gender justice in education.
  4. Camilla Croso: Camilla Croso is the president of GCE and the coordinator of the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE). CLADE is a network of 15 national forums, eight regional Latin American groups and five international NGOs who work primarily in Latin America. Furthermore, Croso represents civil society as a member of countless U.N. organizations. Her primary focus is advocating for women’s rights to education in Latin America.
  5. Monique Fouilhoux: Monique Fouilhoux serves as the chairperson of GCE. An educator from France, Fouilhoux advocates for higher education and the impact of governments and NGOs on education for women.
  6. Julia Gillard: Julia Gillard served as Prime Minister of Australia before joining GPE as Chair of the Board. Gillard wants to strengthen global education systems for girls and bring equality into the classroom. She believes equal education will contribute to the end of poverty. Most recently, she announced GPE’s new Replenishment 2020 campaign, which will reach 870 million children in need of education.
  7. Graça Machel: Graça Machel is a philanthropist and activist for girls’ access to education and basic human rights. She founded the Graça Machel Trust to protect girls from childhood marriage and female genital mutilation. Machel believes that adolescent girls need to have the same educational opportunities as their male counterparts in order to contribute to the development of their communities.
  8. Michelle Obama: Michelle Obama served as the First Lady of the United States. In 2015 she launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative. “Let Girls Learn” uses the aid of 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers to support community projects in developing countries that help girls go to school and stay in school.
  9. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is finishing her 10-year term as president of Liberia. During her presidency, she prioritized girls’ education and advocated for women’s rights. Additionally, Sirleaf’s work as president earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
  10. Malala Yousafzai: As a young teen, Malala Yousafzai defied Pakistani extremists and went to school, risking her life. Because of her bravery, she became an activist icon for girls’ education. Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. She also founded the Malala Fund, an organization that advocates for changing international, national and local policies and systems to give girls access to quality education.

Overall, the fight for girls’ access to education is key to ending poverty. These 10 women are pursuing groundbreaking strategies to implement equality into developing communities around the world.

Rachel Cooper

Photo: Flickr