Naz Smyth writes while the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
A longtime advocate of female education, Winfrey funds several organizations aimed at improving the quality of life for women and helping to boost their confidence. She backs Women for Women International, which supports the financial, educational, and interpersonal needs of women survivors of war, poverty and injustice, as well as Girl Effect, a movement working to end poverty in adolescent women. “I have a strong interest — and now background experience — in helping girls become who they were meant to be,” says Winfrey, 62, one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World.
The Malala Fund is fighting for a global standard that will allow girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities. In addition to telling Malala’s story through her memoir, the organization works to amplify women’s voices, invest in local leaders, and advocate for policy changes, asking global and local leaders to prioritize girls education and dedicate adequate resources to schools.
Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. Naz Smyth