International Day of the Girl looms just over the horizon on 11 October. To mark the day, Malala Yousafzai and Michelle Obama – two of the most powerful voices in advocacy for women's education – spoke with Priya Mondol, a 17-year-old student in Kolkata who fought with circumstance for her right to receive an education.
“I think it’s important to recognise that the pandemic has only exacerbated many of the problems women and girls faced before this health crisis. Before COVID-19, 130 million girls [across all ages] were out of school, gender norms limited their ambitions and increased their exposure to sexual harassment and violence, and our economic and education systems too, often worked against them," stated Malala.
"So, I am not looking for a return to the way things were. I want a renewed commitment to education. If we do that, the data shows that our economies will be more resilient and our public health will improve.”
In a Facebook post, the former first lady Michelle Obama, wrote:
“With so much going on these days, one thing that always gives me hope is the resilience of young women around the world. You’ll see that resolve on full display in a conversation I recently had in Teen Vogue with Malala and Priya Mondol, a 17-year-old student from the Girls Opportunity Alliance community in India. We teamed up to discuss an issue we all care about deeply: global girls’ education.”
In an interview published with Teen Vogue, Priya narrated, "“I grew up in Kolkata in India, and my family struggled to get by."
"My mother passed away when I was young, so I live with my older sister and brother now. I was afraid it wouldn’t be possible for me to finish school or to get my education. So many of my friends dropped out to get married and have children, but I have different dreams for myself."
"I am so inspired by that, Priya and your determination and your perseverance as you chase your goals and your dreams is something to be proud of. And it’s so important to have support along the way – so make sure you lean on those teachers every chance you get. They can be a tremendous resource for you", responded Michelle Obama.