Prince Harry makes rare speech standing up for women's rights in Nepal

Ainhoa Barcelona

Prince Harry has admitted that while he has rarely spoken about women's rights in the past, it was a fitting time to do so at the Nepal Girl Summit on Wednesday. Sharing the stage with President Bhandari, the country's first female leader, Harry gave an impassioned opening speech.

The Prince is on the last day of his tour of Nepal, where he has participated in a handful of colourful engagements including the throwing of paint at a Holi festival.

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Prince Harry shared the stage with President Bhandari, the country's first female leader

He addressed more serious issues at the summit in Kathmandu, however, saying: "While the unique challenges faced by girls is not a topic I have spoken much about in the past, I think it's important to acknowledge something that has become obvious to me and is already known to everyone in this room: there are way too many obstacles between girls and the opportunities they deserve."

"We need to acknowledge that so many countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of young women and girls in the way they do for boys," said Harry.

"I believe it is vitally important for men like me to acknowledge this as loudly and openly as role models do like President Bhandari, the US First Lady Michelle Obama and activists like Malala."

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"There are way too many obstacles between girls and the opportunities they deserve," he said

The Prince went on to cite statistics, saying that 62 million girls around the world are not getting the education they deserve.

"In Nepal, nearly half of all women who are today in their twenties, thirties and forties were married before their eighteenth birthdays," said Harry. "And a little under half gave birth while still in their teens."

The royal concluded that the key to empowering women is education. "When girls finish their schooling, they gain skills, knowledge and confidence – in short; they are empowered to improve their lives and the lives of everyone around them," he said.

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The Prince concluded that the key to empowering women is education

Harry then turned to praise President Bhandari, whose government has helped decrease child marriage by ten per cent in the last decade. "I am proud to stand with you today," he told the leader and the sea of girls listening to his speech.

The Queen's grandson was able to chat to the girls during the summit and happily posed for pictures.

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Harry was reunited with an old Gurkha fighter, Major Bishnukumar Pun, who he first met 26 years ago

The day before Harry – who is primarily in Nepal to see earthquake recovery projects and pay a personal tribute to Gurkhas who have served the Crown – came face-to-face with an old acquaintance.

He was reunited with an old Gurkha fighter, Major Bishnukumar Pun, who he first met 26 years ago on a visit to Salisbury Plain with his father Prince Charles. The retired Major showed Harry an old photo of the Prince as a young boy meeting the military man.

"That's the photo," said Major Bishnukumar Pun, 57. "That was me, young and handsome. You were clean shaven then!"

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