Freida Pinto took to the skies above London to help launch the first-ever UN Day of the Girl.
The Slumdog Millionaire and Planet of the Apes actress was on the EDF Energy London Eye – which is hosting an all-female takeover.
Led by Southbank Centre and global charity Plan UK, the takeover marks the launch of WOW Girls, a day of activities to help highlight girls’ inequality around the world.
“I grew up in Mumbai and have seen the inequality faced by girls,” says Freida. “I was blessed but millions aren’t.”
“They face being pulled out of school, married early and having children before they’re ready - and, in some cases, not being born at all since girls are unfortunately considered to be worthless.”
“Girls across the world should have the right to decide their own futures. That’s why on the first-ever UN Day of the Girl, I’m supporting Plan’s call to make girls’ education a priority. Raise your hand if you believe the same.”
Award-winning designers, artists, actors, film directors and athletes are among an array of women speed mentoring 180 schoolgirls on the Eye.
T4 presenter Georgie O’Kell, fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and Team GB women’s boxer Natasha Jonas, are among the high-fliers who joined pupils on Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel.
Other guests include TV presenter Fiona Phillips, Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati, novelist Kathy Lette and comedian Josie Lawrence.
October 11 was adopted a global Day of the Girl by the UN following a Plan-backed campaign led by young activists from some of the world’s poorest communities.
The countdown to the day has been marked with an illumination of the London Eye led by record-breaking Paralympian Sarah Storey.
Following the success of Southbank Centre’s annual WOW – Women of the World festival, which promotes, recognise and celebrates women, WOW Girls: International Day of the Girl is a day-long event that brings together 180 girls from schools across London and beyond. Girls and young women have featured strongly in WOW in every year and WOW Girls is the first girls-only WOW event giving hundreds of girls aged 11 to 18 a voice and providing an opportunity to celebrate the power and potential of girls.
The day kicks off with speed mentoring, then the girls will go to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for a programme of debates, talks, performances and workshops focused on the choices girls face in all areas of their lives, both in this country and abroad.
There will be sessions on education and careers, confidence and positive self-image, relationships, family and friends and empowerment to change the world for girls, with speakers from Malawi, Pakistan and Sierra Leone and live performances from some of the UK’s most exciting young female performers.
WOW Girls Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “I am very pleased to be working with Plan UK on this important event to launch the first UN International Day of the Girl.
“I set up WOW – Women of the World festival in 2011 to celebrate women's achievements and to look for solutions to the many inequalities that women still face globally, and mentoring is a key part of that solution.”
Plan and Southbank Centre hope WOW Girls and the Day of the Girl will help draw attention to poverty and discrimination issues faced by millions of the world’s poorest young women.
Plan will highlight girls’ education and the role it plays in helping to reduce poverty in the world’s developing regions.
Speaking ahead of the event Marie Staunton Plan’s UK chief executive said: “We are privileged to be collaborating with Southbank Centre on this special event.
“WOW Girls presents an opportunity to celebrate young women’s accomplishments and highlight the unique challenges encountered by many.
“One in three girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, discrimination and violence.
“Every day, young girls are missing from school, forced into marriage and put to work against their will – not only is this unjust, it’s a huge waste of potential.”