Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a step toward gender equality yesterday at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, announcing Canada will make a financial commitment of CAD $400 million for girls’ education.
In the lead up to the summit, a coalition of NGOs, including Global Citizen, called on Trudeau to make girls’ education in crises a priority, asking for him to push G7 leaders to contribute USD $1.3 billion over the next three years and for the G7 to adopt the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries (Charlevoix Declaration), particularly in conflict and crisis.
We can now celebrate the Canadian commitment of $400 million over three years for girls' education in crises. Even better, the government made sure they were not repurposing existing funds allocated to other matters, but rather, drawing on unallocated funds. All seven G7 countries also endorsed the proposed Charlevoix Declaration focused on the importance of investing in children's education in crises, with a special focus on girls who face additional barriers because of conflict or disaster.
While not all G7 countries made financial pledges to support the declaration, there was a global commitment of CAD $3.8B, which exceeded the USD $1.3 billion sought, and included pledges from the UK, Germany, the EU, the World Bank and Japan, although further details on these pledges and the funding pools they derive from have not yet been made public. Despite this, it is a reflection of Canada's leadership and strong commitment to achieving gender equality that it was able to raise a rallying cry and build momentum on girls' education at this G7.
This Declaration, coupled with the substantial financial investment, is meeting an urgent and unmet need and will help unlock the power of girls living in the world's most difficult places, as they realize their right to an education.
A coalition of Canadian civil society organisations, including World Vision Canada, Right to Play and Global Citizen put forward the Declaration and called on Canada to make this a priority at the G7 last year. The group's persistence and the voices of global citizens in Canada and other G7 countries paid off this weekend.
Ahead of the announcement, Trudeau also met with the Gender Equality Advisory Council, which is co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Isabelle Hudon, and includes other strong voices like Malala Yousafzai and Women Deliver's CEO, Katja Iversen.
The council delivered a report to Trudeau on Monday with 60 recommendations that would advance gender equality at this year’s G7 Summit. One of the key recommendations was to improve access to 12 years of free, safe, and gender-responsive education for children in developing and conflict-ridden countries.
Today’s commitments will provide girls with exactly that — the opportunity to access and complete at least 12 years of safe, quality, inclusive, and equitable education.
More than 130 million girls are out of school around the world today. Conflict remains a barrier to education for all children, but it greatly affects girls and women.
Girls are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school in areas of conflict than those living without violence, according to the Malala Fund.
Extreme poverty and environmental disasters like long-lasting droughts are other examples of crises that affect girls’ access to education.
Educated women are generally healthier and more successful, they tend to have fewer children, to marry older and to encourage their children to attend school. Investing in girls’ education can help lift communities out of poverty.
Investing in girls’ education leads to improved public health, better mitigation of the effects of climate change, and quicker recovery from natural disasters.
In fact, this declaration will prioritize girls’ education and outline the importance of an integrated approach to address the needs of adolescent girls, especially in humanitarian, fragile and conflict settings. It specifically calls out the importance of addressing systemic barriers for adolescent girls, that global citizens have been taking action on, like effective menstrual hygiene management and child marriage.
This year's G7 was a critical turning point for Girls' Education and an acknowledgement by our most powerful leaders that when girls win, we all win, when #SheIsEqual, we all benefit. And this equality starts with education.
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including issues related to gender equality and education, knowing that girls’ education is key to eliminating extreme poverty around the world. You can take action to thank Prime Minister Trudeau for his leadership on girls here.