“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.
On World Children’s Day
, we must remember what it means to be a child born with a right to reach the human potential. Nothing is more precious, more priceless, than a child growing towards that potential. And nothing is more despicable than to ignore the innocence and learning needs of a child in the process of becoming…
There is a stillness to the tent as I enter. This is a place of loss and pain, yet also a place of resilience and hope; everything coming together all at once.
Leaders from across the world are uniting at the UN Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit
to address a global education crisis that threatens to derail decades of development gains and is depriving millions of girls across the world of their inherent human right to access a quality education.
Schools, students and teachers continue to be targeted and attacked in countries around the world. Over the past two years, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of attacks on education. Innocent children, adolescents and teachers are being killed, raped and abducted. Schools and universities are bombed, burned down and used for military purposes. Girls and boys are too scared to walk to school and face intimidation and other attacks. These are severe breaches of international humanitarian law and ultimately – and absolutely – inhumane.
As we approach this year’s Transforming Education Summit
, global leaders can and must prioritize expertise and mobilize political will to support efforts to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, especially girls. This is at the heart of Sustainable Development Goal 4
in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the commitments made in the Charlevoix Declaration
and the G7 Declaration on Girls’ Education
Today marks International Youth Day
, a global celebration of the transformative power of young people. Introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, the event was inaugurated not only to observe the power of the youth voice, but to serve as a promise from those in power to activate the power of youth across the development sector.
“I first think about my children. They are why we were forced to leave - because our children are always our first concern.”
These are the moving words of Victoria, who fled the brutal war in Ukraine with her two daughters. Her eyes welling up with tears, she recalled their dangerous journey from Ukraine. She and her two school-aged daughters were forced to leave behind everything they have ever known.
Look around the world at this very moment. Whether we look at it in stark numbers and statistics, whether we look at it as a generational loss of basic human rights, including the right to an education, or whether we look inwardly and feel the unspeakable human suffering and devastation taking place, we all agree: we are at a historically low point in our collective humanity.
For decades now, world leaders have talked about ending hunger and poverty and building a new world order based on human rights and gender-equality.
In 2021, COVID-19 continued to plague the world – a world already burdened by armed conflicts, climate-induced disasters and forced displacement. Communities, nations and people struggled to maintain normalcy in the midst of the abnormal. This was especially notable in the education sector – a sector that is the very foundation for achieving all human rights and all Sustainable Development Goals.
COVID-19 has upended our world, threatening our health, destroying economies and livelihoods, and deepening poverty and inequalities. It also created the single largest disruption to education systems that the world has ever seen.
“Now is the time for a stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system anchored in the United Nations,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his latest report “Our Common Agenda.” Indeed, there is a fork in the road: we can either choose to breakdown or to breakthrough.
Kabul 1990. I land in the capital of Afghanistan for my very first mission with the United Nations. Controlled by the government, Kabul was surrounded by the Mujahedeen. As a young female professional, living and working across the country, I felt protected by the Afghans, whether walking in the bustling cities or meeting with the Mujahedeen in the rural countryside. Afghanistan had already been at war for over ten years and we all worked with the hope that the fighting would come to an end soon.
The Taliban takeover of government in Kabul is just days old, and the eyes of Afghans and the world are cautiously watching and hopeful to see them stand by their word and ensure that girls’ education be promoted and protected.
The first time I visited South Sudan in 2004 - prior to its independence - I travelled across the entire the country which was then a region devastated by man’s inhumanity to man. Although South Sudan is slightly larger than France, I could find only one concrete school building in Rumbek.
It may be a challenge, but it is also an absolute necessity: bridging the gap between international law and reality and quickly crossing the bridge to reach all crisis-affected children and youth left furthest behind. Inclusive and equitable quality education is the right of every girl and boy and the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 4.