World leaders urge: break down the barriers to girls’ education

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Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May at the girls' education event in New York. Credit: Global Affairs Canada

New York City, September 26, 2018 - Every girl not in school today will be a girl left behind in 2030. Recognizing the importance to act now, world leaders at a landmark event at the United Nations, built on the commitments made at the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar in February pledging to accelerate efforts to empower girls through education.

French President Emmanuel Macron who in Dakar had increased his government’s contribution to GPE by ten-fold, said: “We committed to fund the Global Partnership for Education in Dakar with President Macky Sall. We (have) raised US$2.5 billion for education. But we can do more.” He highlighted the need to build solid, effective education systems that respond to changing demographics.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had doubled funding for GPE, stressed the need to support girls’ education during conflict and crisis and said, “Educating girls isn’t just something we should do, it is the most powerful lever not just to improve the world, but change the kind of world we are growing up in.”

Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom (UK), one of GPE’s largest donors, said that “By denying girls an education, we deny them a voice, we deny them choice, we deny them their future.” She stressed the importance of education for economic growth and highlighted the UK’s Girls’ Education Challenge that supports education for the most marginalized girls.

The calls for urgency had also been reiterated at the G7 Summit in Canada and the Commonwealth Summit in the United Kingdom earlier this year where leaders had called for more action to unlock the power of the most marginalized girls living in the world’s most difficult places through education and economic empowerment.

Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education said that GPE support to developing countries had helped ensure the education of an additional 41 million girls. “That is not only a moral victory, it is an economic victory because we know that for every dollar invested in getting a girl an additional year of education, there’s a US$10 dividend”.

The Sustainable Development Goals call for universal quality primary and secondary school education. Girls particularly face significant barriers. While research shows that girls’ schooling has a tremendous impact on their individual lives, their communities and economies, 130 million girls remain out of school around the globe.

In response to the financing gap for global education, Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands announced a new contribution of 100 million euros to the Global Partnership for Education.

Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark also announced increased education funding.  She said, “We only have 12 years left to deliver on SDG4. 12 years to make sure no girl is left behind. Let us all act now.”

Norway’s Minister for International Development, Nicolai Astrup, announced Norway would spend more on education.  He said that investing in quality education, especially for girls, was the single most effective investment for sustainable development.

At the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar in February, 20 donor country governments pledged US$2.3 billion for the GPE for 2018 to 2020. More than 50 developing countries pledged US$110 billion in increased domestic spending on education.

GPE has made girls’ education and tackling deep-rooted gender discrimination one of its top priorities. The focus is on the most vulnerable girls who are in countries affected by conflict, have a disability, live in remote regions or belong to a minority.

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Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May at the girls' education event in New York. Credit: Global Affairs Canada

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