28 July 2017
Renowned humanitarian and activist Graça Machel challenged the next generation to end gender inequality in her 2017 SOAS Graduation Ceremonies speech.
Speaking as President of SOAS University of London, Mrs Machel called on graduands to be the generation to eliminate gender inequality for education, health, economic transformation, for protecting the planet and for social change.
Referring to SOAS’s centenary celebration in Nigeria in April, she said: “Earlier this year Baroness Amos brought a SOAS delegation to Lagos and called for the education of girls to be a global priority. I do echo this sentiment. This assault on the freedom to learn and to access education must end.
“Research has shown that the education of girls can help break the cycle of poverty, boost the economy and improve health and affirms the human rights and dignity of women.
“The cost of gender inequality is great. We know that we cannot stop the cycle of poverty, economic deprivation and poor health unless everyone has an equal opportunity to access education.”
Mrs Machel also spoke of the challenges students will face, reminding them that “the strength of the human family lies in our diversity”.
The SOAS President also reflected on SOAS’s 100 years, saying the centenary was a “golden opportunity” to look at the footprint created by the School and encouraged graduands to reflect and be critical of what the next 100 years of SOAS could be. She also noted the ongoing movement to decolonise the SOAS curriculum, saying she was impressed with this initiative.
Guests also enjoyed performances from Congolese Rumba and Cuban Son band Grupo Lokita, Kora musician Kadialy Kouyate and Virtuoso Syrian kanun player Maya Youssef.