[Series Launch] Committing to Change: Girls’ EiE from Charlevoix to COVID-19
This post introduces a new blog series by INEE to promote accountability and transparency in commitments to the 2018 Charlevoix Declaration and progress in women’s and girls’ EiE. This blog series will invite Charlevoix donors and implementing partners to provide updates on their commitments since 2018, describe how they have adapted their initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and elevate promising practices in women’s and girls’ EiE.
A Great Disadvantage, A Greater Opportunity
Gender equality is a fundamental human right. To make gender equality a reality, all women and girls around the world must have equal access to quality education and learning opportunities.
And yet, women and girls in crisis and conflict contexts continue to face multiple threats to accessing safe and quality education. Girls in crisis contexts are two and a half times more likely to be out of primary school, 90% more likely to be out of secondary school. Adolescent girls are particularly disadvantaged, where relative to boys, education is often not considered to be an investment. Before the COVID-19 pandemic 129 million girls were out of school – and millions more were in school, but failing to hit minimum learning targets. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities. With record numbers of children and youth out of school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a particularly crucial time to highlight the importance of gender equity in education. School closures disproportionately affect girls in conflict-affected settings, where the COVID-19 pandemic represents a ‘crisis within a crisis’. Girls who are out of school face a higher risk of child marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, and child labor. During lockdown, women and girls may also lose access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, increasing the risk of unwanted/early pregnancy. Girls may also have greater challenges accessing technologies and resources for distance learning, further exacerbating learning gaps for girls. This increases the likelihood that girls will not return to schools when they reopen. When schools reopen, pregnant girls may not be able to resume their education due to restrictive school policies, home pressures or stigma and discrimination.
However, shifts in gender roles and relations following crises also present the opportunity to set new precedents for gender equality. Global research demonstrates that conflict is less likely in contexts where there is gender parity in terms of mean years of schooling. When education is available equitably, is safe, of good quality, relevant, conflict and gender–sensitive, it can break cycles of conflict and violence, redefine gender norms, and promote tolerance and reconciliation. Quality education can equip girls with knowledge to support a country’s recovery, economic growth, peace and stability. When women and girls have an equal chance to learn, grow, and succeed, they help build an economy that works for everyone.
Global commitments reflect increasing prioritization of gender equality as well as education in conflict and crisis settings through the Sustainable Development Goals, Education 2030 Framework for Action, the World Humanitarian Summit and the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries.
The Charlevoix Declaration
On June 9, 2018, Canada, along with the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank, announced an investment of nearly $3.8 billion CAD, to support quality education for women and girls living in crisis, conflict-affected and fragile states, marking a fundamental shift toward improving access and reducing barriers to quality education for women and girls around the world. Additional commitments totalling $527 million CAD were announced in September 2018 at the UN General Assembly from Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Qatar. Together, these commitments represent the single largest investment in women’s and girls’ education in emergencies, and as a result, have the potential to make a difference in the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls.
These investments support global action to:
- Equip women and girls with the skills needed for the jobs of the future
- Improve training for teachers to provide better curriculum for women and girls
- Improve the quality of available data on women’s and girls’ education
- Promote greater coordination between humanitarian and development partners
- Support innovative education methods, especially for vulnerable and hard to reach groups, including refugees and displaced people
- Support countries in their efforts to provide equal opportunities for girls to complete at least 12 years of quality education, from primary to secondary school
INEE seeks to advance this agenda by engaging its members and partners to think critically about their contributions to women’s and girls’ EiE and promote accountability and transparency in commitments to the Charlevoix Declaration and women and girls’ education in crisis contexts.
This blog series, which will run through 2020-2021, hopes to foster dialogue around questions such as:
- What commitments have been made to the Charlevoix Declaration and how have they been operationalized?
- What are the impacts of the Charlevoix commitments to women’s and girls’ EiE?
- How has COVID-19 impacted progress in women’s and girls’ EiE?
- How have organizations adapted their programs and initiatives to address new challenges and opportunities in women’s and girls’ EiE as a result of COVID-19?
- How can we ensure transparency and accountability in funding for women’s and girls’ EiE?
- What additional support is needed to ensure that women and girls have access to quality, safe, equitable EiE?
- What strategies can be put in place to ensure that a high percentage of girls return back to school after the pandemic?
These are just a few of the questions INEE aims to highlight in this series. We welcome your voices and look forward to engaging in this important dialogue.
Ways to engage
- Write a blog post. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you work for an organization implementing Charlevoix funds and you are interested in contributing to this blog series.
- Comment and discuss with the authors and other readers.
- Share the blog posts with your colleagues and networks.
Support for this blog series is provided by Global Affairs Canada. For more information on the partnership between Global Affairs Canada and INEE, please contact email@example.com.