BEIRUT: The CEO of tech giant Apple, Tim Cook, visited Beirut over the weekend with leading women’s education campaigner and youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, to announce a major partnership to help Lebanese and Syrian girls in local schools. A statement from the company said Cook’s investment will enable the Malala Fund, an NGO that promotes and invest in girls’ education, to significantly increase in scale, with an initial target of getting 100,000 girls into education in Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Jordan.
“My dream is for every girl to choose her own future,” a statement from Apple quoted Yousafzai as saying. The Pakistani activist rose to prominence for her campaigning for girls’ education after a Taliban gunman attempted to kill her in October 2012.
During the weekend trip, Cook and Yousafzai visited Lebanese and refugee Syrian students at the Lebanese Alternative Learning center in Monnot, Beirut, accompanied by 12 young female students.
According to the Independent newspaper, who accompanied the pair, one girl spoke of a better future for Lebanon, while a Syrian student said she hoped for peace in her home country. “Through both their innovations and philanthropy, Apple has helped educate and empower people around the world. I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining [the] Malala Fund in the fight to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear,” she said, according to the statement.
“We believe that education is a great equalizing force and we share the Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,” Cook said in the statement. “Malala is a courageous advocate for equality. She’s one of the most inspiring figures of our time, and we are honored to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world.”Prior to their trip to Lebanon over the weekend, Yousafzai and Cook had met at Oxford University, where Yousafzai is studying.
Cook told the Independent Sunday, “We began to talk and it became so clear that she had such a bold vision. It really lined up with the boldness of Apple and that the core of it is an overriding belief in equality and that education is the great equalizer.”
The Malala Fund has past history investing in Lebanon. Yousafzai spent her 18th birthday in July 2015 opening a girls’ school, built in her name, in the Bekaa Valley. The school was built to provide secondary education to 200 refugee girls in the Bekaa’s informal camp settlements.