As we commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD), we ask: Where does Africa stand in ensuring that investments in education, particularly for girls, create conditions for peace?
Conflict still constitutes one of Africa’s most significant challenges at the beginning of this new decade. The rise of extremism and conflicts over natural resources are fuelling instability. This in turn undermines the development process in Africa. And education, one of the pillars of progress, is severely affected.
The effects of conflicts are highest for women and girls
In times of conflict, education is on the front line. Everyone is affected, but especially women and girls. They are already marginalized by cultural and social burdens. Girls are two and a half times more likely to be out of school when they live in conflict-affected countries, and adolescent girls are nearly 90% more likely to be out of secondary school (Global Education Monitoring Report, 2018)
In a context where our societies are still struggling to restore human rights for girls and women, the outbreak of a conflict combined with the structural marginalization of women in communities can only become an explosive cocktail for the future of Africa.
Fully aware of the urgent need to ensure continuity of education in emergencies for girls and boys, African leaders and partners came together in Addis Ababa last month to look for sustainable solutions during the 4th High-Level Dialogue on Gender Equality and Education.
Under the theme "Silencing the Guns to ensure Safe Schools and Learning Outcomes for Girls and Women's and for Africa's development", African Union Member States, development partners and civil society organizations seized the opportunity to highlight the need to secure schools and ensure access and retention in education systems for girls and young women, especially in conflict and fragility contexts.
The President of Ethiopia, H.E Sahle-Work Zewde, highlighted that schools are often the first to close but last to reopen if they ever do.