At a time when military action is garnering international media attention, it is important not to forget the innocent civilians whose lives are impacted by conflict and crises. And they were certainly not forgotten at Global Citizen Live! in London yesterday, when the UK government confirmed its commitment of £212 million to reach 973,000 of the world’s most vulnerable girls across the Commonwealth through the Girls' Education Challenge.

Since February 2017, Global Citizens have tweeted, emailed, and petitioned a total of 64,177 times to get the UK government to step up. And last night, as she reaffirmed the commitment made earlier in the day by Theresa May, the Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt told Global Citizens she had heard our calls loud and clear.

“Right now young girls are being forced to drop out of school, and they’re not getting the same opportunities as their brothers,” Mordaunt said. “I know you know this because you write to me and the minister, you tweet, you campaign — you do all those things. Earlier today our female prime minister announced that she has listened to you and she is going to commit £212 million pounds towards education, that’s what you’ve done. And that will help 1 million extra girls in the Commonwealth get an education. That program is going to focus on the hardest to reach girls, in conflict situations and with disabilities. You’ve done that so thank you.”

The Girls’ Education Challenge is designed to provide access to 12 years of quality education for the hardest-to-reach girls and those who most need assistance — girls affected by conflict and those with disabilities.

Syrian refugee, education activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan speaks at Global Citizen event “girls in emergencies” reception yesterday

Activists and senior representatives from the UK Foreign Office used the Global Citizen platform to rally further support for the initiative. Joanna Roper, in her role as the UK’s first ever Foreign and Commonwealth Office UN Special Envoy for Gender Equality, called on Global Citizens at Global Citizen Live London to help her drive forward the UK’s campaign to ensure that every woman and girl receives 12 years worth of quality education.

“We want to see all girls have access to 12 years of a quality education,” Roper said on the Global Citizen stage. “So I ask you Global Citizens tonight to use your voice for those who cannot and support our campaign for 12 years of quality education.”

Earlier in the day, at the “Girls in Emergencies” reception co-hosted by Global Citizen and Coalition for Global Prosperity, Foreign Secretary for the UK, Boris Johnson also issued a firm rallying cry to Commonwealth governments to support the Girls Education Challenge. Johnson impressed upon the audience that we must tackle the inequality in education of girls and boys that he called “sheer global sexism.”

Shortly after this call to action to the Commonwealth, Johnson indicated that an announcement on the Safe Schools Declaration would be be made by the UK “very soon.” As Global Citizen and our partners at Send My Friend to School and Coalition for Global Prosperity made clear in a petition handover to the foreign secretary at the event, 25,549 people and children from 932 schools want the UK to sign this declaration to make schools around the world safe.

If the UK signs, it will become the 74th signatory to this declaration and provide an official assurance that the country will condemn attacks on schools, protect education during armed conflict, and offer supervision, services and teaching to save children’s lives. Global Citizen will be ensuring that the Foreign Secretary and UK government follow through on the promise. Minister, you will be hearing from us!


Defeat Poverty

The UK Just Committed to Provide Nearly 1 Million Girls With a Quality Education

By Katie Dallas