Girls in school in Pakistan. Photo © Vicki Francis/DFID
Throughout the world, millions of children find themselves caught in the circumstances of conflict, crisis, and emergency. In fact, 27 million children alone are out of school in conflict zones.
One of the most vulnerable populations during emergencies are girls. Girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school during conflict, constantly under the threat of sexual and gender-based violence. Many girls are sold into slavery and forced into child marriage.
The international community must tackle the societal codes and constraints that prevent girls from going to school and reaching their full potential. Addressing structural problems that act as barriers to education will help the 130.9 million girls worldwide who are not learning, including those trapped in emergency situations.
The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is “EmPOWER Girls: Before, during, and after emergencies”. It’s important now more than ever to ensure that girls have the opportunity to learn, to go to school, and to feel safe from the threats of gender-based violence.
The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) is empowering girls by supporting education development. Through its GOAL programme, Standard Chartered is helping to develop essential life skills among adolescent girls in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As the workplace becomes more connected, collaborative, and complex, business has the opportunity to contribute to skills development – especially among girls – so that today’s youth can enter the future workforce prepared and able.
Gucci, another one of our members, established “Chime for Change” – an initiative that seeks to “convene, unite, and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world”. Among its many projects and initiatives, Chime for Change held a hackathon in 2017 where 250 hackers, programmers, coders, and others competed to design an app that would ensure refugees and young women receive an education.
The private sector has the unique ability to use its innovation and financial resources to provide access to education for millions of girls and young women. On International Day of the Girl Child, the Global Business Coalition for Education encourages the business community to step up and empower girls by securing quality education for all.