Putting Girls’ Education at the Heart of the Agenda To and Beyond 2015
“All efforts for sustainable development will be in vain unless we prioritize girls’ education with a focus on adolescent girls,” declared UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova during a panel discussion at the launch of the Gender Summary of the 11th Annual Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR). The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women of Australia, the Executive Director of UN Women, the President of Education International, and the Secretary General of Plan International Norway were also present at the event.
The Gender Summary, which analyses data from the latest edition of UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report, was presented on the margins of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 57) which opened today at the United Nations in New York. In her presentation of the main findings, Pauline Rose, the former Director of GMR, highlighted the serious gender imbalance in global education which has left over 100 million young women in low and lower middle income countries unable to read a single sentence, and 31 million girls out of school.
Supported by the data presented in the two reports, the panellists reviewed current trends, challenges and gaps in providing each and every girl access to education and to learning. They discussed possible solutions and highlighted concrete actions being advocated and undertaken to promote girls’ education from the perspectives of UN agencies, NGOs and donors and renewed calls for putting girl’s education at the heart of the development agenda.
The Executive Director of UN Women pointed to the need for collaborative action given the enormous task that still lay ahead in terms of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. Stating that multi-stakeholder partnerships are key to accelerating girls’ education as well as to putting it back on track, the members of the panel also urged stronger engagement from the private sector.
Referring to education as the “vaccine of the 21st century”, the Minister of Australia called for a stand-alone goal on education with strong targets and indicators reflecting gender concerns. The President of Education International, representing the world’s largest federation of unions representing 30 million education employees in 170 countries and territories, emphasized the importance of providing all teachers with three fundamental requirements to guarantee that every child receives a good quality education, that is, quality training, quality tools and quality environment.
The Director-General also reminded the audience that ensuring the right to education for all girls, particularly those who are the hardest to reach, requires commitment and appropriate action at all levels. Political will, they concluded, must be translated into legislation and policies in favour of promoting girls education, increasing budgets and improving resource allocation to target those most in need, and create safe environments to encourage girls to go to school.
The event was organized jointly with UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) and Education International (EI). It was supported by UNICEF, Plan International and the UN Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).
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