Plan International’s girl advocate, Nurfahada, 16, from the Philippines, joined the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, on stage at an event in New York on Tuesday 29 September, to demand education for all teenage girls.
The all-star panel at The Power of an Educated Girl event, organised by Glamour magazine, included former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and actress and advocate Charlize Theron.
The audience included 1,000 schoolgirls, dignitaries and global leaders. Girls from classrooms in Kenya, Ghana and Pakistan – who are taking part in the World's Largest Lesson on the new Global Goals – also put their questions to the panel via videolink.
One girl speaking out for all
"I am speaking out for all of us, to realise our rights,” said Nurfahada, when asked what motivates her to be a girl advocate. “Girls want to say to world leaders that they have the potential to do well."
On meeting Michelle Obama, she said: “Before going on stage she kept saying to me, 'You can do it, you can do it!' She was so kind. I think it’s amazing that she is doing this for all the girls, for all the youth, around the world.”
62 million girls out of school
First Lady Michelle Obama, wearing a Because I am a Girl bracelet given to her by Nurfahada, said: “Nurfahada is here today, because of education.” But the reality is that there are 62 million girls who do not have an education, she added.
She offered words of wisdom to girls at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem: “You will not be successful if you hang around with people who bring you down.”
Nurfahada is one of nine Plan International global girl advocates who have travelled to New York from Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil and the Philippines to participate in events related to United Nations General Assembly and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.