Open letter: Beijing +25: The road to gender equality begins with girls' education
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Students at the Amrighebe school for girls in Chad. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

Today, the Generation Equality Forum would have started with the ambition to launch a transformative agenda to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. This milestone moment, 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, has been put on hold by the world’s unprecedented global health emergency – COVID-19.

But our commitment today and every day is resolute: quality girls’ education is key to this transformative agenda, and must be a key pillar in our efforts to achieve gender equality.

Together, we* call on the Generation Equality Forum convenor, UN Women, and the host countries of France and Mexico, along with the Global Leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, to ensure that quality girls’ education is part of efforts to deliver game-changing results for women and girls and a more inclusive society.

Identified as a cross cutting issue for the six Action Coalitions, girls’ education is so much more.

Girls’ education is a fundamental human right, enshrined in various instruments including the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The rights of girls not only to education, but also in and through education, are reaffirmed in the Education 2030 Framework for Action as well as in Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Girls’ education enables girls to access the full spectrum of their rights. It is also linked with economic growth, climate change mitigation and resilience, promoting peace and bolstering health and education outcomes for children. Education is a critical pathway to achieving gender equality, and has the power to transform the harmful social norms that hold girls and women back from exercising their agency and realizing their full potential.

Girls’ education is even more critical now, as the current pandemic has affected the right to education of over 90 percent of the world’s student population. At the pandemic’s peak, over 1.5 billion children, including 767 million girls, had their education interrupted. Even before COVID-19, the right to education was already uncertain for girls facing discrimination because of their disability, location, or language group/ethnicity, or other characteristics, as well as those in crisis-affected countries.

Emergencies exacerbate pre-existing inequalities. The longer schools are closed, the longer girls are exposed to heightened risks of gender-based violence, early and forced marriage and early and unintended pregnancy, exploitation (whether economic or sexual), human trafficking, among others. Many of these girls are at further risk of never returning to school when these reopen: early estimates suggest this may be as many as 10 million girls.

We call on all leaders to reinforce the importance and the powerful role of education for women and girls’ rights.

We call for tangible, concrete, resourced and meaningful commitments, both through bilateral and multilateral funding to girls’ education, accompanied by clear commitments by States to increase the national budgets for education.

We stand with you to ensure that all girls can fulfill their right to education, and that no one is left behind.

*103 signatories organizations from all over the world
Aide et Action
AIEIMS-2D
Albanian Coalition for Education
ANPIL onlus
Asociación PROYDE
Asociación Tarpusunchis
Association d'Aide à l'Education de l'Enfant Handicapé (AAEEH)
Association of De La Salle Brothers in India
Association songtaaba des femmes unies pour le développement asfud
Association Yara LNC
Associazione Dream Team Donne in Rete
Br. Richard Galvin
Broeders van de Christelijke Scholen
Brothers of the Christian Schools - Distric of Bogota, Colombia
Brothers of the Christian Schools -District of Eastern North America
Brothers of The Christian Schools Lwanga District of English Speaking Africa
Building Tomorrow
Cameroon Education For All Network (CEFAN)
Campaña Mundial por la Educación España
Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación
Centre de Formation et d'Action pour le Développement CFAD
Child Rights Centre Albania
Children Believe
Christian Brothers
Coalition Éducation
CONAMEPT-coalition nationale MADAGASCAR POUR EPT
De La Salle Brothers
De La Salle Brothers - District of Colombo
De La Salle Brothers Australia
De La Salle Christian Brothers
De La Salle Christian Brothers, District of San Francisco New Orleans
DEFI
Derandein Fundazioa
District of Ireland, GB and Malta
Education Cannot Wait
ENIEG DE FOUMBAN
Europe and North America Campaign for Education
Fondazione De La Salle Solidarietà Internazionale
Forum for African Women Educationalists
Fundação La Salle Brasil
Fundación Ayuda en Acción
FUNDACIÓN BOLIVIA DIGNA
Fundación Cultura de Paz
Fundacion InteRed
Fundación La Salle - Argentina
Fundación La Salle Paraguay
GALE, The Global Alliance for LGBT Education
Girls Opportunity Alliance
Global Campaign for Education
Global Campaign for Education Netherlands
Global Citizen
Global Partnership for Education
Globale Bildungskampagne
Human Dignity
Humanity and Inclusion
Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
Irish National Teachers Organisation
La Salle
La Salle International Foundation
La Salle RELEM (Europe and Meditteranean)
Lasallian District of Ireland, Great Britain and Malta
Lasallian East Asia District
Lasallian Education in North America
Lasallian Mission Council ANZPPNG
Lasallian Projects
Lasallian Women of Hope
Lassalian Educators Mozambique Association (AMEL)
Light for the World
Little Sisters of the Assumption
Malala Fund
Miroir Vagabond (Belgique)
Misean Cara
Mission Council Sector of Ireland
NGO CONSTRUISONS ENSEMBLE LE MONDE
Not 4 Trade
OCCHI APERTI società cooperativa sociale onlus
ONG HAMAP-Humanitaire
Pakistan Coalition for Education an initiative of Society for Access to Quality Education
Partage
Plan International
Plan International France
Planète Enfants & Développement
Planète Urgence
PROYECTO SOLIDARIO
Región Latinoamericana Lasallista -RELALSaint
Mary's College of California
Salesian Sisters
Save The Children International
SCEFA
Secours Islamique France
Send My Friend to School
Solidarité Laïque
Solidarité Laïque Afrique de l'Ouest
SOPRO - Solidariedade e Promoção
St lasalle school karemeno
Suore Domenicane Di S. Caterina Da Siena - Provincia Beata Vergine Del Rosario
Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Primaire Public de Côte d'Ivoire (SNEPPCI)
Syndicat national des Agents de la Formation et de l'éducation du Niger ( SYNAFEN)
TEACH Côte d'Ivoire
UNESCO
UNICEF France
UNICEF USA
United Nations Girls' Education Initiative
World University Service (WUS), Germany

Students at the Amrighebe school for girls in Chad. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand
Gender equality

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