Leaders Speak Up for Girls' Education
In the evening of Wednesday, 21 September 2011, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, took part in a high-level reception to build momentum behind education development goals and celebrate the launch of the new Brookings-led Global Compact on Learning.
The event was co-organized by UNESCO, the US State Department, the Global Partnership for Education, the Brookings Institution, the MacArthur Foundation, Pearson, The MasterCard Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and brought together over 100 senior representatives from across government, civil society and the private sector. Participants focused on actions to address major learning priorities in developing countries, especially early childhood, literacy and post-primary education, with a strong emphasis on gender equality.
“We've come a long way. We have reason to be proud," said Irina Bokova. "But we are not there yet. The biggest challenge is to get girls into school and to keep them there".
The need to do more for girls, especially adolescent girls, was echoed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement delivered by US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verver, “Investing in girls reaps dividends not just for girls themselves but for their communities and their countries".
Participants agreed with the director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists, Ms Oley Dibba-Zadda, who stated that "Education for girls should not be an issue for discussion; it is a human right". "Let us get to work", moderator Angélique Kidjo enjoined, "We cannot come back to the General Assembly next year with the same excuses".