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The Economist has named Shakira one of the most important people of 2010 for founding the charity Pies Descalzos – also known as The Barefoot Foundation – which focuses on education and health care for children in her native Colombia.

“It’s a great honor. I was quite surprised and humbled to see myself alongside the likes of President Obama,” she said of the award. “It is something I could have never imagined. Beyond the initial surprise though, I am so heartened and glad that such importance is being placed on the topic of education. This is a reflection that as individual people and members of civil societies, we can bring awareness to the rest of the world and call our governments to action on pressing issues, such as this one, that do not always receive the attention they merit.”

The 32-year-old singer recently wrote an article for The Economist urging world governments to support the Global Fund for Education. In part, she wrote:
‘Growing up in Colombia after decades of conflict I saw that the people who are born poor, die poor. With rare exceptions, they never have the chance to improve their lives…I refuse to believe that it isn’t possible to educate every child. By establishing a Global Fund for Education in 2010 we will invest in these children’s future—and help to secure our own.’

The Fund is part of the Millennium Development Goals, which aims to reduce poverty by ensuring that every child can complete primary school.

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