Grammy award-winning pop superstar Rihanna is teaming up with French President Emmanuel Macron to help bring education to developing countries, notably in conflict and crisis areas.
On Friday in Dakar, Senegal, Rihanna co-headlined a conference with Macron to raise money for education in developing countries. She spoke as an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education, whose work has reached sixty-five countries.
Attendees at the conference included World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Senegalese President Macky Sall and other African heads of state.
“We’ve made tremendous progress today but our work is never done. We are not going to stop until every boy and every girl has access to education,” Rihanna stated.
Macron called education “the only single response” to the extremism and fundamentalism threatening West Africa. He promised 200 million euros ($248 million) for the fund, sharply upping France’s earlier offer, and urged others to pitch in toward the 3.1 billion euro overall goal.
According to UNICEF’s United Nations Children’s Fund, there are approximately 264 million out-of-school children and adolescents around the world due to extreme poverty, political conflict and social barriers, including gender bias against young women and girls.
Rihanna’s partnership with Macron began in June when she tweeted “bonjour” to the new French leader, asking him to commit to funding education. Shortly after, she met with him and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Rihanna also tweeted to other leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, asking them to make a donation.
She did not tweet to U.S. President Donald Trump, whom she criticized in September over his administration’s response to the disaster in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
The Barbados-born singer started the Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents, to champion education, health and emergency response programs around the world. The foundation joined forces with the Global Partnership for Education in 2016.
Rihanna came to attention in the pop music scene in 2006 with her album Girl Like Me, and has gone on to become one of the bestselling artists of all time. She is the fourth-most-followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers.