Rihanna is using her platform as a celebrity to urge world leaders to financially commit to educating children in the world’s poorest countries. As an ambassador for Global Partnership for Education, the singer reunited with French President Emmanuel Macron to advocate for children at a recent summit in Senegal.
"We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done," she said during her speech at the conference in Dakar on Friday, adding: "We have a long way to go, and this is a fight we are never going to stop fighting, until every boy and every girl has access to education." According to Agence France-Presse, she co-hosted the event alongside Senegalese President Macky Sall and President Macron.
Rihanna became the first ever global ambassador for Global Partnership for Education in September 2016. She first connected with President Macron on Twitter last summer. They discussed the state of global education and agreed to work together to increase access to children around the world. This lead to her visiting the Elysee Palace in France to further discuss the issue with President Macron and his wife Brigitte. In 2016, France increased its contributions to GPE to a total of approximately $21 million (£15 million) over 2015 to 2017.
According to Unicef's United Nations Children's Fund, there are approximately 264 million out-of-school children and adolescents throughout the world. The majority of these children cannot attend as a result of poverty, conflict, and social barriers including gender bias against girls.
The Global Partnership's goal for the conference was to raise $3.1 billion (£2.2 billion) from donors by 2020 to support the education of 870 million children across 89 developing countries. As part of that goal, GPE is striving to get these developing countries to allocate 20% of their overall budgets for education.
Rihanna put her 86 million person audience on Twitter to good use as she tweeted Prime Minister Theresa May, Australia's Malcolm Turnbull, and President Macron encouraging them to demonstrate their support through donating to Global Partnership for Education. They have all responded by increasing their donations toward education. Additionally, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, recently tweeted Rihanna with a pledge from her country.
As Rihanna said, there is still a lot more to be done to provide children around the world with access to education and if anyone can shine a megawatt spotlight on the issue, it's Rihanna.