Angelique Kidjo to #YALI2015: ‘Be Bold, Be Creative, and Move Forward’

11th August 2015


On the margins of the Presidential Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship in Washington, D.C. this week, famed recording artist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo visited IREX and spoke to a group of the 2015 ‪ Fellows. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship exchange of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  It is sponsored by the U.S. government and assisted in its implementation by IREX.

Ms. Kidjo is a passionate advocate for girls’ education and has made that a focus of her UNICEF Ambassadorship. Girls’ education was a focal point of her talk to the Mandela Washington Fellows as well; she said, “If you achieve education, you can transform your life.”

The West African singer also addressed social issues in ‪‎Africa and encouraged the Fellows to be agents of change in their communities and around the world. She urged them to be social entrepreneurs and to run organizations that are sustainable and focus on the people. “Be bold, be creative, and move forward,” she said.

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New York Times op-ed highlights the importance of education

16th April 2015

Read Smart Girls vs. Bombs.

Education is a threat to Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other violent, extremist groups because it is transformative and empowering. When you educate a young woman in Africa, you see a decrease in violence and sexual abuse, and an increase the GDP of the country. As a globally-connected society, it is time that we stand up and demand that our governments recognize the power of investing in girls’ education and support and fund those programs accordingly.

The Batonga Foundation works to support quality education for girls and equip them with the assets and tools they need to be successful in their own lives and become powerful agents of change in their communities. Batonga’s founder, Angelique Kidjo, is committed to using her platform to give voice to the concerns and needs of adolescent girls to ensure that as we consider the post-2015 MDGs, they are part of the dialogue and reflected in global priorities. More than ever, there is an urgent need and tremendous opportunity to redirect the course of girls’ lives and ensure that each and every one of them has the opportunity to pursue an education. We hope you will join us in this important work!


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Happy World Toilet Day!

19th November 2014

Africare, the African Well Fund and the Batonga Foundation are recognizing World Toilet Day with the launch of a Water & Sanitation project in three schools in Benin, affecting over 5,000 students!

In Benin, the burden of fetching water remains largely the responsibility of girls. Especially in the northern region of the country, Batonga girls often must travel many kilometers multiple times a day to find a source of clean water. As a result, many of them are forced to skip or drop-out of school. The new project will collaborate with the local population to improve clean water access and sanitation in three schools, upgrading the learning environment and enhancing public health in this important crossroads region.

Water and sanitation are major issues with straightforward solutions. Bring them up tonight at dinner.

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