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#17for17: Advocating for Girls' Education

For my 17th birthday, I hosted a virtual event bringing together 17 speakers representing 17 countries to stand in solidarity with girls around the world.

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Advancing the girls' education agenda requires involving a wide range of stake-holders. It is my pleasure to host this diverse group of advocates and leaders.


Suzanne Ehlers

CEO, Malala Fund

Suzanne is CEO of the Malala Fund; previously President and CEO of PAI, a nonprofit advocating for universal access to reproductive health care.


Nora Fyles
Head of Secretariat, UNGEI

As Head of the Secretariat at the UN Girls' Education Initiative (hosted by UNICEF), Nora has led a number of global campaigns to advance critical gender issues in education.

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Tiffany Drake

Director, Girls Opportunity Alliance 

Tiffany currently serves as the Director of Global Girls’ Education at the Obama Foundation, for former First Lady Michelle
Obama’s adolescent girls’ empowerment program. Previously, she came to the White House to help launch the President and First Lady’s girls’ education initiative, Let Girls Learn, and served for two years as a Senior Advisor to Mrs. Obama.


Dr. Rania Al-Mashat

Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt

Former Minister of Tourism, Egypt. Former Adviser to the Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund (IMF). YGL at World Economic Forum; PhD and MA in Economics, University of Maryland, USA.


Maryam & Nivaal Rehman

Founders, The World with MNR

Through their non-profit The World with MNR, the twin activists and journalists have covered events including the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. and have interviewed global figures including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, and Madame Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank.


Fatima Alkaabi

Tech Inventor, UAE

A tech inventor, Fatima has a passion for creativity and innovation. Recognized as the youngest Emirati inventor in 2015, Fatima has received many awards including winning the Robot Olympics in 2014, and the Arab Award for the Best 10 Inventors and Innovators of 2015.


Abi Daré

Author, The Girl With The Louding Voice

NYT bestselling author, Abi grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for 18 years. Her book The Girl with the Louding Voice has won multiple book awards. In addition to writing, Abi studied law and International Project Management.


Vikas Pota

Board Member, Educate Girls

At, we are dedicated to stepping up our efforts in addressing this issue. Support is by no means an easy feat, but through cooperation and community empowerment we believe we can facilitate progress in this area. We are always striving to make a difference, and invite you to learn more and lend your support.


Dr. Rebecca Gordon

Research Associate, University of Cambridge

Rebecca is a Research Fellow in Leadership for Inclusive and Democratic Politics at the University of Birmingham and recently completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge. Her research explores pathways for change in relation to girls education and the role of political leadership in supporting this.


Drue Kataoka
Artist, Technologist, and Activist

Drue is CEO of Drue Kataoka Art Studios LLC and is known for her signature interactive and reflective visual mazes and experiences, which distort the perception of space-time.  Her artwork Up! was featured in the first zero gravity art exhibit at the International Space Station. She is a Young Global Leader & Cultural Leader of the World Economic Forum (WEF).


Jasmine Warga
Author, Other Words for Home

Jasmine is the John Newbery Honor award winning author of Other Words For Home. Additionally, she is the author of young adult novels, My Heart and Other Black Holes and Here We Are Now. Her books have been published in over 25 countries.


Angelina Kekhia

Syrian-American Harpist

Angelina is a Syrian-American harpist. Seven years ago she came with her mother to the United States from Aleppo, Syria. She loves sharing her music with others and performing for causes she believes in. Eventually, she would like to go to medical school and become a doctor, like her late father.

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Wadi Ben-Hirki
Founder, Ben-Hirki Foundation

Wadi Ben-Hirki is a passionate and award-winning development worker, writer and public speaker. She is the Founder of Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation and works with UNGEI as a girls' rights activist. Her passion has led to her voice being heard on Aljazeera, BBC and Agence-France Presse among others.


Nibras Khudaida
Refugee and Human Rights Activist

A student refugee from northern Iraq, Nibras is currently studying economics and international relations at Creighton University. Nibras hopes to study international law post-graduation and aims to advocate for human rights and education.


Dr. Taniya Mishra
Director of AI Research, Affectiva

A speech scientist and AI researcher, Taniya is on a mission to develop the next generation of AI leaders and is deeply passionate about increasing gender-diversity in tech; PhD in computer science and speech processing from the OGI School of Science and Engineering.


Kavya Anbarasu
STEM Advocate

Kavya is an incoming freshman at MIT who plans on studying computer science. Kavya founded a Girls Who Code chapter at her local high school and is very passionate about continuing to decrease the gender gap in tech.


Aurélia Durand
Animator and Illustrator

Aurélia's wild variety of creations range from augmented reality, animations, paintings, murals, to illustrations, all a vivid celebration of diversity. Recently she illustrated the book "This book is anti-racist " through the publisher "Quarto kids" printed for the US, Canada, and the UK.

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Anika Manzoor

Executive Director of the Youth Activism Project

Anika received her MPP from Harvard Kennedy School in 2018 and is the founder and Executive Director of the Youth Activism Project. Her activism spans continents, from US, Ecuador and Nicaragua to Malaysia.

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Afua Osei
Co-founder, She Leads Africa

Afua Osei is a Co-Founder of She Leads Africa, a leading media brand focused on millennial African women reaching more than 700,000 women across the globe.
She is an expert in creating digital content and live experiences that impact a new generation of smart, ambitious women.


Mariana Anaya
Founder, Girl Up Monterrey, Mexico

Mariana Anaya, age 19, is an IB alumni from Monterrey, Mexico currently majoring in Life Sciences at Université de Paris in Paris, France. Mariana co-founded Girl Up Monterrey, the first Girl Up club in her city, and the winner of Girl Up’s “Top Girl Up Club” in 2018.

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Dr. Rana el Kaliouby

Co-founder and CEO, Affectiva

AI Scientist and Entrepreneur, Co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, an MIT spin-off. Author of Girl Decoded. Young Global Leader at WEF. PhD, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Proud mom of Jana.

#17for17: What We Do


l#17for17: Stay tuned throughout the day and engage with these inspiring speakers to hear about why they care about girls' education.

9:00 am - Kick off and Conversation with The Malala Fund

Suzanne Ehlers, CEO of the Malala Fund 

Interviewed by Jana Amin

9:30 am - The Role of Political Leadership in Promoting Girls Education 

Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Research Associate, University of Cambridge

10:00 am - Girls Education: A Government’s Perspective

Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, Egypt

Interviewed by Jana Amin

Empowering Girls through Technology and Innovation 

Fatima Al Kaabi, Youngest Emirati Tech Inventor 

Interviewed by Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder & CEO, Affectiva, Author of Girl Decoded

11:00 am - Sisters in Solidarity: Global Visions, Activist Realities

Nora Fyles, Head Secretariat UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) 

Mariana Anaya (Girl Up) and Wadi Ben-Hirki (Philanthropist) 

Interviewed by Maryam & Nivaal, twin journalists and activists

11:30 am - Through the Eyes of a Novelist

Jasmine Warga, Author of Words For Home

Interviewed By Jana Amin

12:00 pm - Youth Art Block

Angelina, Syrian-American 15 year old Harpist 

Aurélia Durand, Animator & Illustrator 

12:30 pm - STEAM and COVID-19 impact

PART 1: Teaching Creativity, from STEM to STEAM by Drue Kataoka, Artist, technologist, activist

Part 2: COVID-19 Impacts by Vikas Pota, Board Member, Educate Girls. Lecturer at UCL Institute of Education 

1:00 pm - Heart to Heart between a Mentor and a Mentee

Dr. Taniya Mishra, Director of Research, Affectiva 

Kavya Anbarasu, Incoming freshman at MIT

1:30 pm - Finding Your Louding Voice

Abi Dare, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Girl With the Louding Voice

Interviewed by Afua Osei

2:00 pm: Youth Activism

Nibras Khudaida, Education Activist 

Anika Manzoor, Executive Director, The Youth Activism Project

2:30 pm: A Conversation with the Girls Opportunity Alliance

Tiffany Drake, Executive Director, Girls Opportunity Alliance, The Obama Foundation 

Interview by Jana Amin​

3:00-3:15 pm: Close and Sing Happy Birthday for Jana

Join us in singing Happy Birthday for Jana’s 17th!

#17for17: What We Do
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Celebrate 17 with me and in solidarity with girls globally!

It is estimated that 10 million fewer girls will return to school once the Covid-19 crisis has passed.

For my 17th birthday, I am hosting a virtual event on May 29th, bringing together 17 speakers representing 17+ countries to discuss the importance of girls' education. My goal is to raise awareness and help more girls go back to school next fall.

Please join me in celebrating my 17th birthday while standing in solidarity with girls around the world.

#17for17: Who We Are

#17for17: Advocating for Girls' Education 

May 29th, 9am-3pm ET. Streamed live on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and HERE. 

#17for17: Welcome
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#17for17: Image
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