Stepping up for equality: INEE members on girls’ education at the G7 Summit

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Topic(s):
Gender
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Girls' education is in a state of emergency. The recent INEE report Mind the Gap 2: Seeking Safe and Sustainable Solutions for Girls’ Education in Crises shows that crises including COVID-19, climate change, and emerging and protracted crises are having devastating impacts on girls’ education. We need bold commitments and concrete actions to close the gap in girls' learning, retention, protection and wellbeing in crisis-affected contexts. 

The upcoming 48th G7 Summit provides a timely opportunity for world leaders to step up efforts towards women’s and girls’ education. Girls' education is a key to realize the German G7’s presidential priority for progress toward an equitable world. But how can the leaders of the G7 realize this goal? 

To answer this question, we called on INEE members and partners to share their hopes for the G7’s mobilization of political commitments, resources, and actions to advance girl’s education in emergencies and protracted crises.  These voices build on the recent call-to-action endorsed by INEE for the G7 to protect children’s right to education in emergencies and crises.

Strengthening resilience against crises

Emerging evidence shows that crises and emergencies such as COVID-19, climate change, and conflict have disproportionate impacts on girls' learning, safety, and well-being. The leaders of the G7 must support the strengthening of quality education systems to make them more resilient and better prepared to respond to crises. 

Crisis affected countries should be supported to integrate gender-responsive emergency preparedness measures into education planning to ensure learning continuity for girls during school closures.

“Evidence gathered across several countries reveal that distance education programs often replicate the inequities that exist in non-crisis contexts of schooling by overlooking the unique needs and challenges which girls face in accessing learning… Technology, neutral as it is, cannot eliminate gender gaps in education unless policy makers and education planners are intentional about incorporating gender responsive practices into the planning, implementation and evaluation of distance based education. I strongly urge the G7 to ensure that across the world, governments adopt gender responsive systems for the delivery of education in emergencies to break the cycle of unequal futures for boys and girls.” - Edem Dorothy Ossai , Founder/Executive Director, Mentoring Assistance for Youths & Entrepreneurs Initiative (MAYEIN)

The climate crisis is a growing issue impacting children’s and youth’s access to and quality of education. In 2021, an estimated 4 million girls missed out of education due to climate related disasters. The leaders of the G7, especially those representing high-emission countries, must reduce emissions and invest in education for resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change on girls’ education. Moreover, young women and girls need to be engaged in the political discussions and decision processes for climate action that affect their lives and livelihoods. 

“There is real opportunity for educated women and girls to act as important agents of change in the face of the climate crisis. Education can equip girls and women with skills for climate change resilience, mitigation and adaptation. Transformative education that develops girls’ confidence and leadership skills and addresses gendered norms can empower them to participate in meaningful discussions on responding to the effects of climate change at local, national and global levels. To support girls and women to achieve this, firstly we need to ensure that all girls and women, especially those living in crisis affected contexts and those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, have access to quality education and training. Further, we must ensure that the voices and needs of young women and girls are heard within high level political discussions on climate change.” - Kate Sims, Senior Education Consultant, Education Development Trust 

Furthermore, child safety and wellbeing must be prioritized in situations of conflict and crises. This includes protecting girls’ rights in and around schools and offering psychosocial support and social and emotional learning (PSS-SEL) initiatives.

"Girls can experience several child protection risks that act as obstacles to school enrolment and retainment and therefore limit their chances to learn and thrive. These can include early marriage, the worst forms of child labour and female genital mutilation. Girls also face gender discrimination, such as being blocked from attending school after becoming pregnant. It is critical to meet the specific age and gender appropriate educational needs of girls and obstacles to their enrolment and attendance... It is critical to ensure child protection considerations are integrated in all education programmes. When gender and age-sensitive child protection and education programs are well integrated, harmful child protection outcomes for girls and boys can be prevented." Camilla Jones - Coordinator, The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

Professional development on gender-responsive pedagogy should also be prioritized so teachers in crisis contexts feel confident in their ability to develop safe and inclusive lessons and learning spaces. 

"The teacher can make a student’s life easier...but the teacher has to feel well enough so they can come to class and exude positivity amongst their students when interacting with them. Even to just make students feel safe … if as a teacher you feel safe, and you have someone supporting you and empowering you in your skills, of course this all is reflected onto the students in the classroom.” - Amena, Teacher, Jordan  in INEE Guidance Note for Teacher Wellbeing in Emergency Settings

Alongside, teacher wellbeing in emergency settings should be prioritized, particularly for marginalized teachers. For ​​PSS-SEL interventions to be effective, they need to take into consideration the barriers and stressors faced by female teachers such as sociocultural factors which place the burden of care, work and household responsibilities on women. 

“..so often teachers (in crisis and conflict contexts) come from the same settings and experience a similar array of complexities as the children and adolescents they teach, with too little or no professional support for their own development, mental health, or wellbeing…elevating the importance of teacher wellbeing emphasizes the critical role it plays in strengthening humanitarian-development coherence and improving the resiliency of education systems…” - Julia Finder Johna, Chris Henderson, and Amy Parker in INEE Guidance Note for Teacher Wellbeing in Emergency Settings

And most importantly, emergency responses need to integrate an inclusive education lens to ensure that children from the most vulnerable groups  are not left behind in their access to education. 

“Students, families, and educators create a beautifully diverse community as they are from different cultural, gender identity, and ability/disability backgrounds. As a result, it is important to understand each others’ experiences using a holistic approach and consider the impact –uniqueness, diversity, as well as disparities and inequities – related to the intersectionality of not only gender but also one’s culture, race, language, religion, and ability/disability backgrounds… I hope to see a more intentional integration of these diverse experiences across the world, especially in the underrepresented and under-resourced communities.”  - Veronica Kang, Member, INEE Inclusive Education Task Team

“We need to support the mapping of and knowledge sharing amongst inclusive education stakeholders across the globe, and share and promote best practices for enabling inclusive access to distance education.”  - Namisano Julius, Member, INEE Inclusive Education Task Team

Investing in equitable futures

Learning loss driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging and protracted crises has made it critical to mobilize international financing for education. The Mind the Gap 2 report shows that the proportion of humanitarian aid requested for education has increased from 3.8% in 2019 to 7.6% in 2021. But the proportion allocated to education remains low, at around 3% of humanitarian aid. So there is an urgent need to increase humanitarian support to education, especially for multilateral funding mechanisms which have a strong focus on girls education, and for local and grassroot level youth and feminist organizations. 

“At UNGEI, we believe that a paramount solution to the gendered crisis within a crisis rests with women, girls of all ages, and their ability to co-create and access gender transformative education alongside feminist and youth-led organizations and girls’ rights champions in their communities. We witness powerful examples of adolescent feminists working to understand and take actions on girls’ needs in crises, and explore what meaningful partnerships may look like between girls, their communities and traditional humanitarian actors. We urge leaders to invest in enhancing the capacity of all stakeholders in humanitarian settings to understand how to take concrete actions to make gender equality in EiE a reality.  This includes investments in movements initiated by feminist and youth-led activists within the affected population, to create localized solutions showing what gender transformation in crises can be.” - United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI)

Ensuring transparency and accountability 

Strong data systems can support inclusion of girls in programming and delivery of education in emergencies. We must bridge the gap in data and evidence on challenges and good practice in gender-responsive education so we can better understand and respond to gendered barriers to girls' education. 

“Evidence generation is critical more than ever. How we harness data from the field plays a key role in decision making, advocacy, and targeted programming.” - Anika Tanjim, UNICEF, member, INEE Gender Task Team 

Moreover, the G7 must support a strong accountability mechanism to ensure that donor commitments translate into funding and positive outcomes for girls' education. 

The INEE Reference Group on Girls’ Education in Emergencies, with the support of Global Affairs Canada, has developed the Charlevoix Funding Dashboard to track the progress of G7 commitments under the Charlevoix Declaration. Tools such as the Charlevoix Dashboard present useful reporting and accountability mechanisms for G7 commitments to education. 

“We recognize that transparency and accountability are the key to ensuring that donor commitments translate to better education outcomes. We hope that the data that the Charlevoix Funding Dashboard provides will allow donors and partners to synergize efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, build momentum and engagement on girls education, and ensure that all children and young people are able to realize their right to education.” - Dean Brooks, Director, INEE 

Building Community for Coordinated Action   

Gender and equality are central to INEE’s work. INEE hopes to continue to play a role in convening EiE stakeholders, developing shared language, tools, and priorities, and promoting coordinated action to drive progress for girls’ education in emergencies and protracted crises. Only by working together can we truly ensure that all children and youth realize their right to safe, quality, inclusive and equitable education.

For further information on gender-responsive EiE, check out the following INEE resources: