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Colombian singer Shakira performs at the tennis Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.
Manu Fernandez/AP
Education

Shakira Believes in the Power of Education to Transform the World


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Artists have the opportunity to use their voices to support the fight to end extreme poverty. Shakira is shining a light on the need to ensure all children in crisis and conflict-affected countries like Colombia have access to education. You can join us and take action on this issue here.

Shakira, the Grammy Award-winning artist behind the popular songs “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Waka Waka,” was an obvious choice to host the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show alongside Jennifer Lopez on Sunday.  

Her ability to break barriers across genres and markets with catchy pop songs and impressive dance moves earned her a coveted spot on the iconic stage. And as a Global Citizen, Shakira has fully dedicated herself to humanitarianism along the way. 

During her big television moment, the artist is hoping to show the world that all children, no matter where they come from, can accomplish their goals if given the right tools.

“I think the message [of my performance] is gonna be, ‘Listen, I'm a woman. I'm a Latina. It wasn't easy for me to get to where I am,” Shakira said during an interview on 60 Minutes

“Being at the Super Bowl is proof that everything is possible. That the dreams of a little girl from Barranquilla, Colombia, they were made of something. I'm gonna be there, giving it all.’”

Born Shakira Isabel Mebarak in Barranquilla, Colombia, to parents of Lebanese, Spanish, and Italian descent, Shakira became interested in traditional Middle Eastern music and belly dancing at an early age. Despite assumptions that she could not find success fusing her cultural backgrounds, the budding singer quickly rose to the top of the charts singing in English and Spanish. 

Shakira managed to carve out space for herself in the historically male-dominated Latin music industry. Now lauded as the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, the musician is using her platform to ensure girls like her have the same opportunities.

At the beginning of Shakira’s career, she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation in 1997 when she was only 18. Named after her third studio album Pies Descalzos, which translates to “bare feet,” the organization’s mission is to “improve learning processes” and “innovate educational infrastructure.” The foundation has built schools in cities across Colombia and touched more than 80,000 lives.

Read More: 4 Ways the Venezuela Crisis Is Affecting Children's Education

“Believe me, to see a child who did not have opportunities to succeed get ahead and obtain equal opportunities in adulthood is such a satisfying feeling that even surpasses that of earning a Grammy,” Shakira said.

More than 1 million children are not in school in Colombia with violence being one of the main barriers to education in the country. Despite a recent peace deal in 2016, guerilla groups and gangs remain active, displacing millions of people. Colombia does not have education systems in place to continue educating children who have been displaced, according to the organization Plan International. 

Shakira finds every opportunity to advocate for education as the path to stability in Colombia and the world. A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she has received countless awards for her philanthropic efforts. In 2017, she showed support for the fight to end extreme poverty, performing at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, and calling on world leaders to stand up for education.

“Education really has transformational power,” she said on the Global Citizen red carpet. “It transforms not only the people who receive it, but their parents, entire communities.  

“I really feel from delivering education around the world, universally, equally, so many positive consequences come, from economic growth to development, to stability,” she continued. “If we really want a world with peace, with global stability, we have to increase the investment in education.”

Shakira’s performance on Sunday is an opportunity to celebrate her many achievements, and her commitment to education deserves the highest praise of all.