Prince Harry is a legend. He likes to party (who could forget), he’s comfortable with his naked body (who could forget), he’s always off on interesting missions to far-flung places and meeting with those less fortunate than him and he’s using his platform to address important issues and make a real difference in the world, among which gender equality is included. PRINCE HARRY FOR KING!
To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls.
While on a recent trip to Nepal, where he was very warmly received, Harry gave a speech at the opening of the Nepal Girl Summit at Kathmandu. The more interesting of the princes joined Nepal’s first female president Bidya Devi Bhandari to speak out against child marriage and call for a more significant focus on girls’ education. Here’s some of the deadly things he said:
“I am delighted to have the opportunity of opening this event alongside President Bhandari. Madam President, you have championed the opportunities for women and girls in Nepal for many years and it is a privilege to share this stage with you today. Over the last decade, I have been hugely inspired by working alongside those striving to help young people achieve their full potential, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. My charity Sentebale has helped thousands of children access education and healthcare in Lesotho, Southern Africa.
Closer to home, in Nottingham, England, I have seen first-hand the transformational effect of even the smallest opportunity in keeping a child away from gangs, keeping them in school, and on track to a more fulfilling and prosperous life. While the unique challenges faced by girls is not a topic I have spoken much about in the past, I think it’s important to acknowledge something that has become obvious to me and is already known to everyone in this room: there are way too many obstacles between girls and the opportunities they deserve. Whether it’s a girl in Lesotho living with HIV; or the talented young woman in Britain who doesn’t get taken seriously because of where she grew up; or the 14 year old girl forced out of school so she can get married here in Nepal; we need to acknowledge that so many countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of young women and girls in the way they do for boys.
I believe it is vitally important for men like me to acknowledge this as loudly and openly as role models do like President Bhandari, the US First Lady Michelle Obama and activists like Malala. As the First Lady has said, change needs to come from the bottom up. We won’t unlock these opportunities for young women and girls unless we can change the mind-set of every family and community. To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls.
So let’s be open about some of the challenges facing young women.Globally, 62 million girls are not getting the education they deserve. Two thirds of the nearly 800 million people who were never taught to read and write are women. Around the world, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children and nearly 250 million of them were married before the age of 15. Here in Nepal, nearly half of all women who are today in their twenties, thirties and forties were married before their eighteenth birthdays. And a little under half gave birth while still in their teens. It may be obvious to say it, but girls who marry young stay at home. They don’t finish school. And they soon become locked in a cycle of illiteracy, poverty, ill health and, ultimately, powerlessness.
How can this cycle be broken? We all know what the answer is – education. Improved access to education can transform lives, families, communities and ultimately entire countries. When girls finish their schooling, they gain skills, knowledge and confidence – in short; they are empowered to improve their lives and the lives of everyone around them.”
HARRY WE LOVE YOU. Read the rest of his speech and other amazing things he got up to in Nepal here.