Prince Harry Gives Impassioned Feminist Speech in Nepal: 'It is Vitally Important' to Acknowledge Challenges W
By Lynda Brendish
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Prince Harry has many attractive qualities: he's a humanitarian, he gets choked up at meaningful gestures and he's not bad on the eyes either. Now there's one more thing we can add to the list – feminism!
The 31-year-old British royal gave a speech at the Girl Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday, alongside the country's first female president, Bidhya Devi Bhandari. His speech touched on the challenges women face and the importance of education for girls around the world.
"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," Harry said.
"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," he added.
"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 U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and activists like Malala [Yousafzai]. 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 mindset of every family and community. To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls."
Harry went on to speak about some of the disturbing statistics with regard to the challenges facing women around the world and in Nepal.
"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," he said. 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," he concluded.
Following his speech at the Girls Summit, Harry visited Kanti Children's Hospital, where many of the patients have been injured while living in hazardous environments after the devastating earthquake in 2015.
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Harry has been touring Nepal as part of his official royal duties. A highlight for the Afghanistan War veteran was spending time with Gurkhas, a military brigade with a 200-year legacy. Harry attended a wreath-laying for Gurkhas who died while fighting for the British.
Although the official part of his tour has now concluded, the prince will stay on in Nepal for an additional week, volunteering with the Team Rubicon non-profit, to help with the reconstruction of a school destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake last April.
Last week, Harry opened up about his late mother, Princess Diana, and said she would have loved being a grandmother. Check out more in the video below.