Leveraging Data and Partnerships: Strengthening Girls' Education in Emergencies with WROs
For girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, education can be a ladder out of poverty and a way to break cycles of abuse and violence. Yet, there are still steep gender-related barriers to a quality and safe education such as gender-based violence, discrimination, child and forced marriage, lack of access to healthcare and menstrual hygiene products, unpaid domestic labour, and the prioritization of boys’ education. Even girls who do access education face a range of challenges, including poor quality facilities, large class sizes, and a lack of qualified female teachers and staff. For girls in fragile and conflict-affected areas, the threats can include kidnapping, injury, forced recruitment, and displacement. With the COVID-19 pandemic, those challenges have only increased.
There are several stakeholders working to reduce these barriers and make sure that girls who must access their education in emergency situations can do so safely and effectively. They are also trying to make sure that the education available is of high quality and sensitive to their unique needs.
In 2021, the Government of Canada supported a partnership with Equal Measures 2030 and its in-country partners FAWE and IPBF, based in Kenya and Burkina Faso, respectively, to look at how to strengthen the equitable and coordinated provision of education for girls and women in both countries. The result was research and advocacy that aimed to make the education systems of both countries more data-driven and gender-responsive. This report details the experiences, findings, and recommendations encapsulated in our work.
Girls seeking an education in emergency contexts in Kenya and Burkina Faso face two very different landscapes. In Kenya, one of its greatest challenges is improving educational outcomes in arid and semi-arid lands, where hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict from nearby territories live uneasily among host communities already struggling with poverty. For Burkina Faso, it is the threat of extremist violence that is, in part, aimed at keeping girls out of schools and positions of leadership or influence. Girls in both countries are at imminent risk of disruptions to their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impeded learning for millions of children worldwide.
We worked closely with stakeholders in both Kenya and Burkina Faso to map data insights and perspectives across the education in emergencies (EiE) landscapes in each country. In the process, we realized that the critical contributions of grassroots Women’s Rights Organisations (WROs) were often missing from the conversation.
As frontline responders, WROs have unique access to the lived realities for girls seeking an education in crisis and conflict affected areas. They understand the real barriers and challenges these children face. Yet the data showed that there’s often little representation from the grassroots in decision and policy making in the EiE field. Many WROs lacked the ability to effectively collect, analyse and disseminate data, leaving them with little visibility and without access to powerful advocacy tools.
This report represents a step toward fixing that imbalance by creating more grounded and equitable flows of data and stronger mechanisms of collaboration. Because once WROs can use quality data to advocate for girls’ right to education and make their voices heard in decision-making processes, we will not only begin to shift the balance of power in the EiE ecosystem, but be able to deliver more responsive, tailored, and effective solutions.