On Wednesday September 5, 2018, GBC-Education representatives attended the event “Educated Women, Resilient Communities,” co-hosted by UN Women and BHP Billiton Foundation at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The event brought together the private sector, UN agencies, member states, and civil society to share insight and solutions on the power that education has to unlock the potential of women and girls throughout the world. The panel was moderated by Hiba Qasas, Chief HACRO, UN Women, and the panelists included:
- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
- Karen Wood, Chairman of BHP Billiton Foundation
- H.E. Ambassador Gillian Bird, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations
- H.E Ambassador Bahous, Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations
- Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait
- Renu Seth, Program Head, Pratham Education Foundation
At a time when girls around the world are 2.5 times more likely to be out of primary school than boys and 9 times more likely to be out of secondary school – leaving tens of millions of girls out of school – we can see that women and girls are often the most marginalized groups in society. In order to combat the rates of illiteracy among women and girls globally, as well as support women in overcoming barriers to education, GBC-Education member company, BHP Billiton Foundation, and UN Women launched the Second Chance Education & Vocational Learning Programme, which works to enhance educational and learning pathways available to women and young women ensuring no one is left behind.
Women and girls are often left out of the education process due to displacement, harmful social norms, early marriage and pregnancy, poverty, and many others. However, this program aims to break these barriers and allow women and girls to have a second chance at education, economic growth, and their basic human rights. As Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stated during the event, “when girls and families are displaced, they lose a lot that they have, but we have to make sure they don’t lost their human rights…and one of those rights is education”. Renu Seth also emphasized that we should not underestimate the potential of those who are left behind. “Second chance education can be transformational,” Seth added.
Many of the panelists spoke about the important role that the private sector plays in making a positive contribution to society and advancing learning outcomes for women and girls. Karen Wood, Chairman of BHP Billiton Foundation, stated that the private sector brings expertise in driving innovation – however not one sector alone can solve the problems of society. She emphasized the need for collaboration between varying actors and discussed BHP Billiton’s four focus areas which include:
- Supporting work that informs better decision making
- Focus on innovations and approaches to solving problems
- Using their power to empower thought leaders around these issues
- Support interventions that will have the greatest impact on communities
These four focus areas are important for facilitating the scale and sustainability of education projects, as well as amplifying the private sector voice for better collaboration between sectors and contributing to positive change.
With over 250 million young people out of school, now is the time for the private sector, UN agencies, civil society, and governments to share best practices and work together on innovation, skills transfer, and strategic approaches to issues, in order to unlock the enormous capacity of resilience through education and create more stable and inclusive societies for future generations.
To learn more about GBC-Education and its work in girls’ education, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.