International Women’s Day, 2023 – Empower her


  • Opinion by Yasmine Sherif (New York)
  • Inter Press Service
  • The following opinion piece is part of a series on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8.

I know from my own life and that of my daughter that quality education makes us stronger. This is a universal truth for every girl in the world. Education empowers girls to fulfill their dreams and achieve their goals, and most importantly to empower other girls. Quality education expands the mind, nourishes the soul, and equips us with a tool to realize our full potential as we journey through life.

With more than 120 million girls enduring armed conflict, forced displacement and climate catastrophes and deprived of a quality education, we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to their humanity, their rights, their potential and their dreams.

We must stand up – united as a 21st century global community – and say no to gender-based violence, say no to child marriage, say no to workplace inequality, and say no to the lack of quality education for women and girls everywhere .

We need to apply a laser focus to the millions of girls furthest left behind in emergencies and protracted crises. Because of their suffering and dispossession, because of the deep despair they live in, I firmly believe that these girls have a unique ability and potential to reach unknown and extraordinary heights in any profession of their choice. Their resilience, combined with quality education, has the magical power to make a great contribution to their society, their country and the world at large. We cannot afford to lose this treasure for the sake of all of us.

To fulfill our obligations, we must ensure that every girl receives 12 years of quality education. For girls involved in conflicts in places like Ukraine and the Sahel, for the millions of girls denied their human right to education in Afghanistan, and for the girls driven from their homes in South America, Asia, the Middle East , Africa and even Europe and North America, education is the key to a better life for them and a better world for all.

What we can and must do is empower them to break the shackles of thousands of years of inequality to break through that glass ceiling once and for all and declare this generation of girls “Generation Equality!” : “The generation that unleashed the potential of humanity.”

The challenges are enormous. ECW partner UNESCO estimates that 129 million girls worldwide are out of school, of which 32 million are in primary school and 97 million in secondary school. For girls involved in conflicts and crises, the situation is even worse. Two out of three girls in humanitarian crises do not attend secondary school. And if current trends continue, by 2025, according to the Malala Fund, climate change will be a contributing factor to at least 12.5 million girls dropping out of school each year.

Our investment in girls’ education is our investment in the future for all of humanity, our civilization, our evolution, and especially for human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals. As the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, ECW has achieved gender equality between girls and boys in its investments in First Emergency Response and Multi-Year Resilience Program. The fund has also committed to supporting gender-equal investments in the new strategic planning period 2023-2026. And through smart investments like our new Gender Equality Acceleration Facility Grants, we are building the public goods and global movement we need to create transformational change in the sector.

Imagine the economic and social consequences if every girl on earth could go to school for 12 years? A World Bank study estimates that “limited educational opportunities for girls, and barriers to completing 12 years of education, have cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost life productivity and income.” Imagine the transformation of a world that urgently needs to move from extreme poverty to justice, and a world that brings peace and security, and human rights for all. We made that promise in 1945 in the UN Charter. It’s not utopia. It’s a real possibility. We know what needs to be done: Empower her through quality education.

Education is indeed the answer.

Yasmin Sheriff is Director of Education Can’t wait.

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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