UNESCO supports world leaders in galvanizing coordinated action for girls’ education

New York: UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, along with world leaders, notably French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, called on the international community to do more for girls’ education and “Leave no girl behind.” They reaffirmed their political and financial commitment to undertake individual and collective action to break the barriers to girls’ education by 2030.

“Girls’ education is the most powerful driver for global transformation. It is also a fundamental right and a matter of human dignity,” said Director-General Azoulay. She also underscored that “today’s meeting is indeed a strong signal of high-level political commitment to a topic that is at the crossroads of two of the most important challenges of our time: education and gender equality.” However, she also called for more coordination: “UNESCO can serve as a coordinating hub,” noting, “We must work in synergy and on a sustained basis over time if we are to collectively deliver on our ambition.”

The event gave focus to the urgent need for countries to work together for the 132 million girls that are not in school today. It featured three panel discussions which underscored the determination to do more for education of girls in conflict and crisis affected countries; stressed the interlinkages between education for girls and health, and the role education can play, for example, in countering sexual and gender-based violence, child and forced marriage, and early or unwanted pregnancy and restrictive social norms and expectations. The last panel focused on the progress needed to realize the commitment to provide 12 years of free quality education to all girls and boys by 2030 and the need for legislation at the national level to guarantee the right to education, as well as addressing deep-rooted gender discrimination, unequal power dynamics through revisions of textbooks, curricula and improved teacher training.