This October 11th, Education International (EI) and its affiliates are proud to join in the global celebration marking the 10th International Day of the Girl Child. Our Time is Now - Our Rights, Our Future is the 2022 United Nations theme for the day, making clear that “girls are ready for a decade of acceleration forward. It is time for us all to stand accountable – with and for girls – and to invest in a future that believes in their agency, leadership and potential.”
As educators, we applaud and celebrate the many human rights advancements made by girls and for girls in the last decade. Over the past 20 years, gender gaps in school enrolment and attendance have been declining globally. We have also seen an increased awareness of and attention to issues impacting girls by communities, governments, and policymakers.
However, we also acknowledge the many gender inequities that remain, creating barriers to the fulfillment of the right to quality, public education for girls in all their diversity. In the most striking of cases, in Afghanistan, girls of secondary school age have been deprived of learning outright for over a year. As education is a right that supports the fulfilment of other rights, we know that we cannot wait another decade to solve the challenges we face, both old and new.
In the last decade, while we have seen more clearly the impacts of the climate crisis, girls, especially those in the Global South, have felt a disproportionate impact, as they are more likely to drop out or miss school due to climate impacts. However, closing the gender gap in education can help countries better adapt to the climate crisis and decrease the rate and impacts of climate change. One study found that the death toll due to climate change induced extreme weather events could be 60 percent lower by 2050 if 70 percent of girls achieved lower-secondary education.
Girls also experienced a disproportionate impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which not only threatens decades of progress made towards gender equality, but also puts girls around the world at risk of adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, and violence. For many girls, school is more than a learning space, it is a lifeline.
On this day, there is a clear call for all partners to put girls at the forefront of change, welcoming them as partners in all decision-making spaces, to increase investments in women's networks and organisations, and to strengthen services for girls especially in times of crisis and recovery.
Education International salutes the courage, activism, and leadership of the many girls working diligently for a just, equitable and sustainable world in the past decade. It is their example that will propel progress going forward.
Education International and its affiliates renew their collective and professional commitment to advancing the rights of girls in and through education. We stand ready to serve as true partners in transforming education systems to fulfill the rights of girls in all their diversity in the next decade.