Nation, World + Society

Burkle initiative recruits stars in campaign to support girls' education worldwide

Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway, Tyler Perry among those featured in new video

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The UCLA Burkle Global Impact Initiative assisted in recruiting a diverse roster of film and music stars to appear in a new video it helped produce to promote a USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) campaign to educate girls around the world: “Let Girls Learn.”

Among the stars who appear in the public service announcement — all of whom contributed their time — are Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Tyler Perry and Kelly Osbourne. Film and television composer Ryan Perez-Daple contributed the original score. Their participation was solicited to raise the visibility of the issue of equal rights for girls worldwide and to build public awareness and support of girls’ education.

Launched on June 20, the USAID “Let Girls Learn” campaign engages many nonprofit organizations and businesses to promote the message that education is an inalienable right of young girls. The campaign was created largely in response to recent acts of violence against girls pursuing an education, including the kidnapping of some 230–300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria in April and the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in 2012. Although these stories received global coverage, an estimated 61 million girls worldwide are not in school, often prevented from attending by unsafe conditions and the lack of hygiene facilities, such as running water and girls’ bathrooms.

The Burkle Global Impact Initiative (BGI), which helped produce the new public service announcement with the assistance of Prime Content and the Jim Henson Company, is a major contributor to “Let Girls Learn.” Additional partners in the campaign include CARE, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and Child Fund.

“The creative community has the ability to harness their collective social power to reach hundreds of millions of people with the push of a button, or in this case the upload of a two-minute video," said Brian Gott, BGI director. "I'm inspired by their seemingly endless willingness to do so.” Gott is former publisher of the entertainment newspaper Variety and a member of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council.

Organizers said the idea behind the USAID campaign is simple: Educating girls promotes development, leading to healthier and more economically successful women and families. Those results are backed by hard facts in countries worldwide.

As part of the campaign, USAID will devote more than $230 million in new funding to primary, secondary and safe learning programs in Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Jordan, as well as to support existing education programs in Guatemala.

“We are really excited to work with the Obama administration on this important global initiative, which will make a difference for so many around the world,” said Kal Raustiala, UCLA professor of law and director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, of which BGI is a part.

Established in early 2013, BGI engages the entire entertainment industry — including film, television, digital, publishing, live-performance and music — to address and promote critical international issues and thus better educate the public about international and humanitarian affairs.

Among its recent endeavors, BGI conducted research on the Millennium Development Goals in summer 2013 for documentaries produced by young filmmakers from developing countries. The filmmakers competed against one another as part of the "Chance of a Lifetime” reality television show, produced by veteran Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj (chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment) and shown on the Pivot channel in February.

More recently, BGI teamed with Film Independent to create the Film Independent Humanitarian Award, first awarded to Ted Turner on June 12 to honor his immense philanthropic contributions to humanitarian causes.

For additional information on the “Let Girls Learn” campaign, see the USAID campaign page and press release.
 

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