As a little girl I always wanted to grow up really quickly just so I could drive a car myself. And I still love to sit behind the wheel. My first time on stage was in a song contest when I was ten years old and I drove a car for the first time during my adolescence. The first car I ever owned was a light blue rust bucket. I bought it with the first money I earned as a singer. I drove it where I wanted and when I wanted: For me it represented mobility and freedom. I believe music and mobility are two totally inseparable emotions the world over – and they are a symbol of liberation for young people.
With that liberation also comes responsibility. Young people today have an extraordinary ability to drive the momentum for change and accelerate the speed at which we combat social injustices. I am fortunate that my career affords me an enormous opportunity to communicate issues that I strongly believe in and the chance to shift the spotlight from me onto other more important issues, such as providing universal access to a quality education for all children. Growing up in the developing world I witnessed firsthand the vicious cycle of poverty and inequality that plagues so many: which education is perceived as a luxury and not as a birthright. I am convinced that education is the key to breaking that cycle of poverty and giving every child the opportunity for a dignified future.
When I had my first successful album at 18, I saw my opportunity to give something back. I decided to establish a foundation in Colombia, The Barefoot Foundation. Since then we have been working hard on providing education, nutrition for children and occupational training for their parents, building schools that also work as community centers. Today, the foundation, which is fortunate to count SEAT among its sponsors, runs six schools in Colombia educating over 5,000 children. We still have a long way to go to make universal access to education a reality, but I believe we are moving in the right direction. With support from global leaders, young people around the world, and companies with a strong social commitment, we can accelerate change faster than we ever dreamed.
Grammy-award winning artist Shakira is a singer, songwriter and producer. A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira has sold nearly 50 million records globally and toured the world several times over. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the Barefoot Foundation and ALAS, Shakira is a leading advocate for early childhood development and universal access to education, successfully lobbying world leaders at venues such as the Global Campaign for Education, the Ibero-American Summit and the United Nations.