The pandemic is a crisis for girls' education, says Malala Yousafzai

Nearly 130 million girls were denied education before the pandemic. Experts fear that an additional 20 million girls are at risk of dropping out because of COVID-19.

The pandemic is a crisis for girls' education, says Malala Yousafzai

We love all this powerful energy in one room: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to honor of The International Day of the Girl.

The trio of activists focused much of their virtual chat on the importance of education, especially for young girls. "For girls all over the world, when young girls have access to education, everyone wins and succeeds. It opens the door for societal success," said the Duchess of Sussex.


"Having the privilege to be able to go to school is something that oftentimes is taken from granted. It's very difficult for a lot of people to recognize that just the ability to have a schoolbook is a luxury for so many people," she added.

Celebrate Day of the Girl with Malala and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex by watching below:


Malala Speaks with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Day of the Girl www.youtube.com


Nearly 130 million girls were denied education before the pandemic. Experts fear that an additional 20 million girls are at risk of dropping out because of COVID-19.

"They are at risk of never being able to return to their schools because they are likely to be pushed into early child marriages, or they might become the bread winners or financial supporters of their families," said Yousafzai. "So I am more worried about those girls right now, and I think this pandemic is a crisis in the sector of education, and we need to focus on investment in education right now."

Prince Harry also explained how girls' education is critical to fighting climate change. "With an education, it provides money, income, which makes you less susceptible for disaster, less consumption," he explained. "So all of these things are so deeply connected to one another. Education at a young age opens up so may doors, so many possibilities, opportunities."

"And whether it's within science, whether it's within government," he added, "women are needed more and more. To be able to fill those gaps because the opportunity is vast and, well we know, that the world will benefit exponentially from it."

When Yousafzai asked Meghan what inspired her to become an advocate for girls' education, the Duchess replied, "What I realized very early on was that women have a seat at the table. Conversation in terms of police change, conversations in terms of legislation, and certainly in terms of the dynamics of the community are all shifted. And typically, when a woman is present at the table, she's going to be advocating for an entire family, as opposed to a patriarchal presence."

The Duchess followed up this powerful statement. "And so when you have to see 'how do you get a woman to embrace her voice?' You have to start when she is as a young girl."

Meghan went on to ask Malala about her experience graduating from Oxford this spring, during the pandemic.

"It was a very difficult time," Yousafzai explained. "I graduated at home, I took my exams at home. It was very difficult not to be in college anymore and not to be with friends. Not to have those traditional ceremonies."

"But I still was blessed that I still had the opportunity to learn from home," she added.

Harry and Meghan also shared that while the pandemic has come with challenges, it has allowed them to spend precious time with their 18-month-old son, Archie. "We were both there for Archie's first steps, his first run, his first fall, everything," said Harry.

Meghan added, "It's just fantastic and in so many ways, we are fortunate to have this time to watch him grow. In the absence of Covid, we would be traveling and working more externally and we'd have missed a lot of those moments."

Mothering during a pandemic is a challenging way of life. We appreciate the Duchess's reminder that even during these unprecedented times, there is room to be grateful, too.

The International Day of the Girl was created to celebrate what girls can accomplish—which is everything! In order to make sure our girls reach their maximum potential, we need to empower them. After listening to Malala, Meghan, and Harry's powerful talk, we know that a big part of empowering the next generation of leaders means making sure they all have access to quality education.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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