UNESCO, UN Women and UNFPA called upon donors to rally behind their Joint Programme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education, during a side event organized as part of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women held at UN Headquarters on Friday, 18 March 2016.
One year after its launch, the Joint Programme is ready to be implemented in Mali, Nepal and Tanzania, backed by US$ 15 million from the Republic of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The Joint Programme draws on the expertise of the three UN partners and seeks to link investments in the education sector with health, social services, skills, technology and economic empowerment.
Through the event, participants highlighted the transformational power of girls’ and women’s education in achieving all the goals of the 2030 Agenda.
“This Joint Programme is one of the UN’s responses to the injustice that still befalls girls across the world,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “What we have here is a model that brings together our respective strengths to break the cycle of exclusion and vulnerability, to ensure girls benefit from a full cycle of quality education. Only genuine joined-up, comprehensive approaches can break through the multiple barriers to girls’ education.”
Programme aims to reach areas where big challenges remain
The goal of the Joint Programme is to reach adolescent girls (10-19 years) and young women (20-24 years) in as many countries as possible where challenges to girls and women’s education remain significant. Over an initial period (2016-2021) it will be rolled out in Mali, Nepal and Tanzania. Another three countries are targeted this year, Niger, Pakistan and South Sudan.
Ambassador Young-ju Oh, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN said: "This specific age-group has been marginalized from getting sufficient attention from the international society and from their own domestic government. Therefore Korea decided to pick this age-group as a priority for our own official development assistance."
Ms Sangaré Oumou, Minister for the Promotion of Women, Children and Families of Mali, welcomed the Joint Programme’s focus on adolescent girls. She noted that girls are most prone to dropping out from secondary school due to early marriage, pregnancy and domestic labour. She outlined measures that her Government has taken to keep girls in school, citing scholarships, technical and vocational education and skills training and community awareness-raising.
UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,affirmed that “without serious investment in girls we cannot make a real change in their lives. What is the game changer for 2016? The critical game changer is the education of girls and women.”
UNFPA’s Laura Londen, Deputy Executive Director for Management, underlined the health-education nexus as vital for empowering girls. “Quality education for all is an imperative, and it must start with girls. But if girls are to realize their rights and reach their full potential, they must not only be educated, but they must be empowered as well. This means providing and making accessible comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health information and services."
Despite significant progress over the last decades, girls and women still make up the majority of out of school children and illiterate adults. The achievement of the new Education 2030 Agenda depends on the full participation of women and girls in education and sustainable development.