Over the last three years, Zuriel Oduwole has kept her focus on her dual initiatives of ensuring the education of girls across the globe, and more recently, empowering them today with skills they can use practically, when they are older.
Having recently met then US Secretary of State – John Kerry last month in Washington DC, it was the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic with whom she next shared the global stage with.
Becoming her country’s first female leader in February 2015 and the youngest at just 46 years of age, the president was eager to hear about Zuriel’s projects, and how her initiatives could be replicated in Croatia.
She liked her basic film making class programme for unemployed youths, which Zuriel has now successfully developed in more than three African countries, including Kenya, Mauritius and Namibia.
“I have been looking forward to meeting you,” President Graber told Zuriel. “I read about you and I am very, very proud of your achievements. And then you are a Girl,” she said with excitement.
The president laughed and giggled with Zuriel throughout the meeting, enjoying the company of another history maker.
The Nigerian-American Zuriel was named the “Most Powerful 11-year-old in the World” by New York’s Business Insider in April 2014, and in 2015 was featured as one of “33 Women Who Changed the World” in ELLE magazine’s annual ranking, alongside the US Federal Reserve Chairwoman – Janet Yellen.
At just 14, she is quietly building a powerful coalition of Female World Leaders to take on education and other global challenges head on. She has so far met one-on-one with the presidents of Liberia, Malta, and now Croatia – all female heads of government, as well as 21 other world leaders from Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Region.
Some of these include the leaders of Tanzania, South Sudan, Jamaica, Lesotho, Guyana, Cape Verde, Kenya, St. Kitts & Nevis, Vanuatu, Mauritius, Malawi, Samoa, Guinea, Tuvalu, and Nigeria’s last two leaders – Presidents Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 and Muhammadu Buhari in 2016.
The out of school children challenge across the globe, of which Nigeria alone has more than 10 million, has dominated world affairs since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed in 2000, now morphed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and extended by the United Nations to the year 2030.
Though just one person, Zuriel has managed to find simple, childlike but practical ideas to dealing with aspects of this, including her recent skill transfer initiative, which was commended by Secretary of State John Kerry last month.
In September 2016, Zuriel was invited to speak at a UN session, in New York.