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Delivering on commitments to girls’ education in crisis – where do we go from here?

Wed, April 17, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific O

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session

Proposal

In June 2018, the G7 group of countries came together to sign the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls, and Women in Developing Countries. As the Chair of the G7, the Government of Canada announced a landmark investment of $400 million in girls’ education, representing their single largest investment in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations. The Declaration commits to closing the gap in access to education during conflict and crisis, and to improved coordination between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation to prioritize improved access to quality education for girls. Canada’s announcement marked the culmination of collaborative advocacy work by a group of more than 30 NGOs, calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to champion a declaration to educate girls in crises.

Almost a year later, representatives from Global Affairs Canada and Canadian civil society will come together to reflect on what has been achieved since the Declaration and, critically, what remains to be done. Education interventions must be situated within and respond to the complex nature of crises and conflicts today, where the average length of major protracted refugee situations is now estimated at 26 years (UNHCR, 2017). Girls are still 2.5 times more likely to be out of school if they live in conflict-affected countries, and both girls and boys are 30 percent less likely to complete primary school (EFA GMR, 2015). Gender inequality exacerbates the risks faced by girls in fragile and insecure environments, as families turn to harmful coping strategies such as child, early and forced marriage. Experience has shown that siloed humanitarian responses fall short in responding to the educational needs of girls in crises, while the development sector has historically been wary of committing to longer-term support and programming in contexts of uncertainty. We know that education can be an important protective mechanism in fragile and insecure contexts, providing children with a safe space and regular routine, linkages with other sectoral interventions (health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive rights and WASH), and hope for the future (INEE, 2012). Education can promote gender equality, address the root causes of inequality, and contribute to peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

The Charlevoix Declaration and Canada’s commitment demands innovative thinking around bridging the humanitarian-development divide to ensure quality education for girls in the early stages of humanitarian response and peacebuilding efforts, while removing barriers to gender equality and to quality primary and secondary education. Its goals are ambitious, and will require multi-year, integrated, and gender transformative approaches. While such approaches can be difficult for national governments to implement, particularly in times of crisis or conflict, NGOs are uniquely placed to complement government efforts and work holistically in conflict, refugee, host community, and fragile contexts.

This panel will highlight the experience of four NGOs developing and delivering girl-focused, integrated education programming in fragile and conflict contexts. Referencing the specific commitments in the G7 Charlevoix and Whistler Declarations, the panel will provide evidence of education interventions for women and girls in some of the most challenging and hardest to reach contexts.

Through the policy commitments and guidance of the Government and Canada and the experiences from the field of its partners, this panel will present a bold and innovative agenda for girls’ education.

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