AKF Programmes Officer Takyiwa Danso recounts her experience as she attended the Girls’ Education Forum in London, where she was invited to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later this year within the UK delegation — alongside then Secretary of State for International Development, and current Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP.
On Thursday 7th July, I attended the UK Government’s first ever Girls’ Education Forum in London, held by the Department for International Development, in partnership with Global Citizen + CHIME FOR CHANGE and VSO. As part of the #SheWill campaign, this event brought together government ministers from countries including Tanzania and Afghanistan, policy makers, CEOs and pioneers in education and women’s rights including Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister and chair of the Global Partnership for Education, as well as young volunteers from across the UK and abroad. The aim of the forum was to agree a concrete action plan to ensure every girl receives a quality education.
Currently, 63 million girls around the world are out of school, and this is figure is under-estimated as it only highlights the most marginalised girls in conflict zones and emergency situations. There are many barriers to girls’ education: particularly cultural and social norms, which succumb many girls to be trapped in the poverty cycle.
Governments, NGOs and businesses pledged to the action statement to ensure quality girls education, with their own commitments which included:
– Justine Greening, then Secretary of State for International Development and recently appointed Secretary of State for Education, announced that Britain would dedicate an extra £100 million to education programmes for 175,000 of the poorest and most marginalised girls around the world. She said, “Education doesn’t just shape individuals, it shapes countries – but right now too many young girls are deprived of an education simply because of their gender. We held the Girls’ Education Forum to put a spotlight on that, and to focus on what education can do to unlock prospects for girls around the world.???
– South Sudan committed to implement gender-sensitive policies to ensure all girls are able to complete primary and secondary education, as well as increase the number of female teachers from 12% to 40% over the next 5 years.
– The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), over the next 5 years, will implement its new Gender Policy, Strategy and Action Plan which has equity as its core
– Vodafone reiterating their commitment to use mobile technology to bring education to refugee girls, reaching a potential 3 million young people in refugee camps by 2020
The forum gave me the opportunity to engage with professionals and passionate individuals to share experiences and learn new ways in which to best support girls’ development. These ideas and solutions can be incorporated by AKF to ensure we have a more gendered approach in our education and child support projects, particularly for those in conflict areas such as Gaza, or in refugee camps, in Europe and Kenya.
The action statement that was agreed by the government will be taken to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this year to be discussed by member states and reinforce their commitments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. I am honoured to have been selected to join the Secretary of State and the UK delegation to be one of two UK Youth delegates to attend the UNGA in New York this September. I will be representing youth voices from the UK at the summit following the UN’s commitment last year to be more inclusive of young people in implementing the SDGs. We aim to achieve stronger participative decision-making with young people, more youth opportunities, better access to data/evidence and providing platforms for young people to share and critique innovative solutions to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change.
by Takyiwa Danso