The United States out going Secretary of State, John Kerry recently met in Washington DC with Nigerian born 14-year old Zuriel Oduwole and commended her global advocacy for girl education.
Zuriel has emerged as a major girl education advocate, who has spoken to more than 24,900 children across 11 countries about the importance of good education. In the process, she has met one-on-one with 23 presidents and prime ministers, talking to them about creating policies to ensure all girls are educated.
During the meeting, Kerry commended her for what he called her ‘clarity of purpose’ at such a young age in recognizing a major global issue, and taking on the challenge with measurable success, across the globe.
Apparently overwhelmed by her tremendous success in garnering global attention to her cause, Kerry described her as a very powerful girl, who gets things done.
He mentioned other secondary initiatives such as her film making class for unemployed and under-privileged youths across Africa.
Zuriel has now taught a basic film making class to more than 305 youths across four African countries, including Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria.
The secretary was very impressed that a student from her first film class workshop held in February 2016 – Namibian girl, Anna Kalola, produced her first documentary just 9 months later, in November 2016 in the capital Windhoek.
Zuriel who is Fluent in English and Mandarin, asked Secretary Kerry what his most difficult challenge was in the last four years as Secretary of State.
In one word, he replied ‘Syria’. He explained that the difficulty was because of the various proxies and complexities of dealing with many factions with varying interests in the country.
She is the youngest person in history at age 14 to be formally scheduled to meet officially, with a sitting US Secretary of State.
In an interview with President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington DC about a year ago, Zuriel asked the president what he was doing regarding education for girls in Nigeria.
Buhari replied: “We are working diligently to correct our mistakes as a nation. We will rehabilitate and expand national infrastructure and move forward as quickly as possible.”
Describing her mission and vision in life, Zuriel explained: “As a girl, I am concerned that not every girl has a right to get an education or a chance to accomplish her dreams like me. Not too cool.
“My vision is to see that this changes one day, and my mission is to use my ‘Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up’ program and other new ideas to inspire girls to accomplish this mission.
“Because the world is watching, I also like to use my visibility to show the positive things about Africa, using my documentaries to tell Africa’s story. For this, I interview Africa’s political and business leaders.”
Among her achievements are: Youngest person in the world to be featured in Forbes Magazine at age 10 in 2013; Listed in New Africa Magazine as one of Africa’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, at age 11; New York Business Insider feature as the Most Powerful 11 Year Old in the world in April 2014.
She also appeared on BBC, CCTV in China, CNBC, TRT World and Bloomberg TV; featured on CNN; met/interviewed one-on-one 24 presidents and prime ministers to talk global issues; youngest in the world in 2014, at age 12, to show a self-produced movie in a commercial cinema.
Zuriel has been listed in ELLE Canada 2015 Annual, “33 Women Who Changed The World” feature; spoken to 24,400 children in 11 countries on education and its empowerment; mentioned in Forbes Afrique, August 2016 – 100 Most Influential Women along with two female presidents; spoke at the UN on Climate Change and effects on Education in September 2016.