The UN Secretary-General has defined the crisis in Gaza not just as a humanitarian crisis, but rather as a crisis of humanity. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres
: “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.” This continued trend of violence and disregard for international humanitarian law and human life has enveloped our world.
Today, as we commemorate United Nations Day, more than 224 million children and adolescents are in need of quality education, and the hope, protection and opportunity it provides. Their numbers are increasing by the day. From Afghanistan and Sudan to Ukraine; from South Sudan, Latin America and across sub-Saharan Africa; and in Gaza, where 50% of the total population of 2.2 million are children under siege.
We are in a race to deliver on our global promise of education for all by 2030 – especially for the 224 million girls and boys impacted by armed conflict, climate change, forced displacement and other protracted crises who so urgently need our support. At the frontlines of this movement are the inspiring, caring, brilliant teachers who work tirelessly to educate future generations.
“My dream is to become a teacher,” says 13-year-old Alia. A small glimmer of hope can be traced in her beautiful, almond-shaped, brown eyes. Together with her mother, siblings and aunt, Alia has fled the conflict in Sudan to Chad. With extraordinary courage to survive, she made the harrowing journey at night across checkpoints, threatened by guns and militia roaming around in the dark. While her eyes are still hollow from the flight, I see that sparkle for a split second: she still has hope.
Today, we mark the second anniversary of the ban on secondary school girls’ education in Afghanistan and join the world in calling for it to be lifted now.
To save our people and our planet from the life-threatening risks of the climate crisis, we must invest in the education of today’s youth. They will be the climate activists, climate scientists, climate innovators, game-changers and leaders of the 21st century green economy.
We all know and agree that patience is a virtue. It is indeed. With one exception.
In the face of a child’s suffering, impatience is the highest virtue. Or as we say in the spirit of Education Cannot Wait: “We must be unapologetically impatient” in our collective goal to reach 224 million crisis-affected children and adolescents with quality education.
Sexual violence is unacceptable in any shape or form, in all contexts, including those of conflict.
As we come together on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
, we must reflect together on the pain, horror, fear and inhumanity that rape, sexual abuse, trafficking, slavery, child marriage and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence bring to a young child’s life, hence, our collective humanity.
As we head into June, we will commemorate a number of important international days that call for much-needed support to protect refugees, end child labour, stop sexual violence in conflict and ensure human rights for the innocent children victims of aggression.
Worldwide, 160 million children are engaged in child labour. Without access to safe, quality educational opportunities, their dreams of a better future have been cut short. As we commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour
, we must continue to support their protection from child abuse and violations – and the right to 12 years of quality education – for every girl and boy on the planet.
Children are not targets. Children are not soldiers. Children are not weapons. As we commemorate the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
, we call on leaders everywhere to embrace the commitments outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child
and the Safe Schools Declaration
to ensure girls and boys everywhere are able to reach their full potential without fear, without intimidation and without violence.
At this year’s G7 Hiroshima Summit
in Japan, world leaders will have a chance to “uphold the international order based on the rule of law and extend outreach to the Global South.” Education, as a binding force that unites us all in our global efforts to protect human rights and ensure sustainable development, should be front and centre on the G7 Agenda.
A civilian student named Saber was caught in the crossfire in Khartoum. He had two choices: either flee and lose everything; or die. But within a moment his option to choose was violently denied: he died.
Only forty-five days into our new Strategic Plan 2023-2026, Education Cannot Wait secured 55 percent of its total requirement for the coming four years, reaching $826 million at #HLFC2023. This is a significant milestone for education in emergencies and protracted crises, and ECW will continue to pursue fund-raising year-round in the coming four years. The goal is to reach the target of 20 million children and adolescents
affected by armed conflicts, climate-induced disasters and forced displacement.
On International Women’s Day, let us remind ourselves of the power of education. We have all benefited from an education that less than a century ago was not a given for a girl and which still remains a distant utopia for millions of young girls.
Today with heavy hearts we mark 365 days of a brutal against Ukraine.
Through this illegal act of aggression, over 450 children have been killed and another 900 injured. The shelling and bombing has damaged 3,000 educational institutions, and completely destroyed 420 schools and learning centers. As many as 5.7 million children have had their education disrupted, with no end in sight.
“Is it a sin to be a girl? We don’t want to be at home and illiterate. We want to go to school, study and be intelligent.”
In just a few words, this plea for education from a young Afghan girl
has captured the world’s attention. Her heartbreaking question shows how the Taliban’s recent ban on girls attending secondary school and university – effectively ending education opportunities for all Afghan girls and women – is not only violating their fundamental human right to education but shattering countless hopes and dreams in an instant. [related_articles]
Education Cannot Wait stands in solidarity with every girl and woman in Afghanistan. Each one has an inherent human right to education. We also stand in solidarity with every Afghan father, brother, husband and son, suffering the pain of seeing their daughter, sister, wife and mother brutally denied their right to an education.
As we commemorate Human Rights Day, let us recall the opening preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…
ECW works together with governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector for an inclusive world where all children with disabilities are able to go to school in safe and accessible learning environments. We work together for an inclusive world where the complex challenges of today offer up the transformative solutions of tomorrow.
As we now have entered the 21st century, we must end violence against girls and women. Attacking and abusing girls and women as a means of warfare, the war-machinery or domestic violence as a result of crisis, is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable. Exposing half of the world’s population to the risks of violence because of their gender is not only a violation of international and domestic laws, but a disgraceful and brute breach of our very own humanity.