On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Global Business Coalition for Education has launched a Task Force aimed at improving education for the 31 million out-of-school girls across the globe by harnessing best practices, the promises of new technology and the assets of its corporate membership base. The Task Force – led by the Dangote Foundation and Standard Chartered – intends to ensure girls are completing school, developing skills and finding jobs to reach their full potential. Using technology to improve access to education for the most marginalized girls will be a cornerstone of the Task Force.
Current efforts by GBC-Education members impact the lives of 6 million girls globally through their investments in empowerment, mentoring and safe schools. Building off of this reach, GBC-Education leaders are committed to overcoming barriers that discriminate against girls and their right to education.
GBC-Education Executive Chair Sarah Brown launched the initiative at a Facebook event in London, with senior women business leaders from across industry, to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday.
Sarah Brown said: “The journey of having the best start in life means having the chance to go to school, which is why we are launching the Girls’ Education Task Force.”
Aliko Dangote serves as a founding Advisory Board member of the Global Business Coalition for Education. Last month, the Dangote Foundation announced its new Chief Executive, Zouera Youssoufou, who comes to the post with extensive experience in girls’ education. Youssoufou, who will co-chair the Task Force said, “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the highest number of out-of-school girls. The business community has been a consistent investor in girls’ education but we must better coordinate our efforts and knowledge to deliver education to the most marginalized and hardest to reach girls. I am pleased to co-chair this Task Force so that we can harness the best of the business community to ensure girls reach their greatest potential through education.”
The United Nations also welcomed the efforts of the business community to improve opportunity for girls through education. This year is critical for the United Nations as the Millennium Development Goals – which aimed to achieve gender parity and universal education – expire and a new development agenda will be set.
Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, welcomed the initiative to improve girls’ education. Kell said: “We know that education is an enabler and equalizer, and I am pleased to see on the occasion of International Women’s Day the launch of the Girls’ Education Task Force by GBC-Education. Girls’ education is at the root of women’s empowerment and will unlock the talent and potential of our future women leaders. The UN Global Compact is committed to these issue areas through the Women’s Empowerment Principles and Children’s Rights and Business Principles to support girls’ education and women’s empowerment for a more equitable and prosperous society.”
He was also joined by UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who recently launched the HeForShe global effort to engage men and boys in removing the barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential alongside UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “I am thrilled to see the Global Business Coalition for Education bringing together its leading companies to support girls’ education. Business must play a leading role to empower girls and young women to take their rightful place among the next generation of leaders by guaranteeing their right to education.”
The odds of achieving education and learning are even worse for those girls living in conflict and emergency settings. Poverty further excludes girls from accessing quality education, with those from the poorest and rural households facing the greatest disadvantages.
V. Shankar, Group Executive Director and CEO, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas, Standard Chartered, and GBC-Education Advisory Board member said:”Standard Chartered has been empowering adolescent girls with the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to be integral economic leaders in their families and economies since 2006 through its award winning Goal program. Goal has reached over 145,000 girls globally across 24 countries. We are delighted to be working with GBC-Education and its new Girls’ Education Task Force to champion the right to education for girls worldwide.”
Payal Dalal, Head of Education and Girls Programs at Standard Chartered, has been designated as Co-Chair.
Robert Triefus, Chief Marketing Officer, Gucci also shared his support, saying: “Gucci and CHIME FOR CHANGE are proud to be part of GBC-Education’s ongoing efforts to engage the business sector to improve global education, especially for girls. The CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign brings together diverse and innovative partners in support of girls’ and women’s rights, and through our engagement in the Task Force, we hope to use the campaign’s voice to show how business can lead the way in ensuring the right to education.”
The Task Force will build on existing knowledge in the girls’ education space and complement current efforts, such as CHARGE. The Center for Universal Education at Brookings expressed their support saying: “We at Brookings‘ Center for Universal Education are encouraged by the goals and future work of the Girls’ Education Task Force and see it directly contributing to the Second Generation priorities for girls’ education. These important efforts will build on the existing knowledge we have on girls’ education and will be a valuable resource as we work together to ensure all girls are able to complete school, learn, and transition successfully to their lives and livelihoods.”
During Q2, the GBC-Education Girls’ Education Task Force will meet to develop its deliverables, some of which will be presented during the week of the UN General Assembly in New York.
GBC-Education is an initiative of Theirworld which launched the Girls Stand Up For School campaign drive and saw thousands globally – including Shakira, Lang Lang, Heidi Klum, Priyanka Chopra and Arianna Huffington – posting their school picture to stand up for girls’ education and call for action through the Up For School petition.
Photo © GPE/Jawad Jalali