Photo by Adriane Ohanesian/A World at School
When the UN passed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, it designated an entire goal to achieving gender equality, noting that empowering women and girls leads to “economic growth and development across the board.”
It is only fitting, then, that the theme this year of the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child should be “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls,” emphasizing how gender equality is critical to achieving the SDGs by 2030, as well as the need for quality data to better understand the gaps in service for girls around the world.
To this end, UNICEF has released Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030, a report detailing how, despite having increased opportunities as compared to previous generations, girls still face substantial inequalities, particularly in education.
“32 million girls are out of school at the primary level and 29 million at the lower secondary level,” UNICEF reports, while the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission) has found that “twice as many girls as boys never start school.”
Though alarming, these figures also signal an opportunity for action that applies not only to public and civil sectors, but also for the private sector to intervene and help close the gender gap in education.
Business engagement in girls’ education is not only critical to reversing these trends and achieving the SDGs by 2030, but is a #smartinvestment, as every dollar invested in an additional year of education for girls yields a return on investment of $10 in earnings and health benefits in low-income countries, and almost $4 in lower-to-middle income countries, according to the Education Commission.
GBC-Education has long supported the efforts of business to provide quality education to girls. Through GBC-Education’s Girls’ Education Task Force, co-chaired by Coalition members Standard Chartered and Dangote Foundation, businesses convene with peers, coordinate resources, and champion change for girls and their right to a quality education.
Coalition members have joined the fight for and are using their voices today to advocate for girls’ education. Discovery Learning Alliance (DLA), the non-profit arm of Discovery Communications, has leveraged the International Day of the Girl Child to engage with the voices of girls and the importance on receiving a quality education using the hashtag #AGirlsDream, while Oando Foundation has highlighted its school adoption program in northern Nigeria where approximately 8,000 girls have enrolled.
There has never been a more important time for business to contribute to building up the next generation of female CEOs, educators, doctors, engineers, and legislators.
How will your business support girls’ education?
See how other Coalition members are supporting International Day of the Girl Child 2016:
To find out more about how your business can best support girls’ education, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.