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Harry and Meghan discuss how coronavirus impacts girls' education with Malala Yousafzai

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
Meghan and Harry have chatted to Malala ahead of International Day of the Girl. (PA)
Meghan and Harry have spoken with Malala ahead of International Day of the Girl. (PA)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have recorded a conversation with Malala Yousafzai highlighting the issues girls still face accessing education.

The conversation marks International Day of the Girl, which is on Sunday, 11 October.

A source close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said the couple spoke to Yousafzai about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting how women and girls access education.

They also spoke about how the global situation has disproportionately affected women and how everyone can contribute to a more equal future for women and girls.

According to the Malala Fund, there were 129 million girls globally not going to school before the pandemic even began, and their calculations indicate that number is set to rise by a further 20 million secondary-school aged girls even when the situation improves.

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Before Meghan met and married Harry, she was a global ambassador for World Vision and travelled to Rwanda in 2016, where she sought to raise awareness of girls’ access to education.

She said: “I think there’s a misconception that access to clean water is just about clean drinking water; which, of course, it is. But it’s so much more than that.

“Access to clean water in a community keeps young girls in school, because they aren't walking hours each day to source water for their families.”

She raised similar issues on a trip to India with the charity in 2017.

Yousefzai, 23, was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 because she continued to push for the rights of girls to have an education in Pakistan.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, and went onto study at the University of Oxford.

Her charity, Malala Fund, is focused on getting an education for girls around the world, so more can learn and lead.

File photo dated 14/01/19 of Duchess of Sussex who, with the Duke of Sussex, is to join education campaigner Malala Yousafzai to celebrate International Day of the Girl.
The Duchess of Sussex has been a long term campaigner on issues around girls' education. (PA)

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This year’s International Day of the Girl also marks 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which set a global agenda for the rights and empowerment of women around the world.

The UN has said this year’s focus will be on demanding to live free from gender-based violence, HIV and Aids, as well as learning new skills and accelerating social change.

By the end of March 2020, UNESCO estimated more than “89% of the world’s student population were out of school or university because of COVID-19 school closures, forcing many learners online with large parts of the population in low-tech or no-internet environments at a severe disadvantage.

“Young women and girls living in poverty, with disabilities or in rural, isolated locations are more likely to be pulled out of school first to compensate for increased care and domestic work at home.”

The conversation will be available on the Malala Fund website and YouTube channel from 4pm BST on 11 October.

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