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Education

The UK Answers Malala's G7 Call to Get Girls Across the World Into Classrooms

British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged £187 million in funding to help get girls across the world into education, as the G7 summit gets underway in Canada. 

May announced the funding while speaking at a session specifically discussing how to empower and support women and girls around the world. 

She said it was a devastating waste of potential that 130 million girls around the world aren’t getting the vital education and skills they deserve, according to a government press release. 

Take action: Call on G7 Leaders to Support Girls' Education

The new support will be enough to help over 427,000 girls in developing countries, those with the most urgent need, to get 12 years of quality education. 

“I am a passionate advocate of improving education for girls around the world,” May will say at the summit. 

“It is the right thing to do an it is in the global interest,” she will say. “That’s why the UK is leading the way in changing views, opening up opportunities for girls, and bringing parity to the classroom.” 

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It comes after girls' education campaigner Malala Yousafzai called on G7 leaders to prioritise girls' education at this year’s summit, which is being held on Friday and Saturday in Quebec. 

Read more: Malala Calls on G7 Leaders to Commit to Girls' Education

“For far too long, G7 leaders have overlooked girls — a critical solution to many of the problems they try to solve at summit after summit,” Malala wrote, in an opinion piece published in Canadian newspaper The Star.

“This year, this G7 must begin to reverse that trend,” she added. 

The G7 summit will see Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US come together to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. 

One of the key campaign targets for girls' education activists is to improve access to 12 years of free, safe, and gender-responsive education for children in developing and conflict-ridden countries.

Since March, global citizens have taken over 17,600 actions — including signing petitions, and sending emails and tweets — calling on world leaders to help the world's most vulnerable girls to get a quality education — including those affected by conflict or crisis.

Read more: 10 Barriers to Education Around the World

“I can think of no greater legacy for Canada’s G7 Summit than this,” Malala added. 

Conflict is one of the most disruptive barriers to education for all children, but it greatly affected girls. In fact, girls are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school in conflict-hit areas than those living in areas without violence, according to the Malala Fund.

"Will our leaders recognise the power of millions of girls to grow economies, reduce conflict, and transform their communities if given access to 12 years of education?" added Malala. "For a safer, healthier, and wealthier world for all of us, I hope the answer is yes." 

The UK funding will focus on girls in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and will help to lift communities and societies out of poverty. 

Read more: 13 Photos of Different Ways Children Learn Around the World

It builds on the announcement made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in London in April, where the UK pledged £212 million to get almost a million girls in developing countries across the Commonwealth learning. In addition to announcing the education funding, May also urged world leaders to take action to tackle the “vile abuse and harassment” that girls and women face online. 

“We know that technology plays a crucial part in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls, but these benefits are being undermined by vile forms of online violence, abuse, and harassment,” she will say at the summit, being held in Quebec on Friday and Saturday. 

“What is illegal offline is illegal online and I am calling on world leaders to take serious action to deal with this, just like we are dong in the UK with our commitment to legislate on online harms such as cyberstalking and harassment,” she will say. 

Read more: Gender Inequality Could Be Costing the World $160 Trillion

“Online violence against women and girls should not be separated from offline violence and the technology companies who are making welcome progress in banning and removing extremist content must use the same methods to prioritise tackling this unacceptable and deeply worrying rising trend.” 

She added that women must be offered better protection online, and urged world leaders to work with industry to make sure that women are able to use the internet without fear of online rape threats, harassment, cyberstalking, blackmail, vile comments, and more.

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In the first quarter of this year, Facebook took action against 1.9 million pieces of ISIS and al-Qaeda content — almost twice the number of actions in the previous quarter. And May is pressing for the systems in place to tackle online terrorism propaganda to be extended to help end abuse targeted at women and girls. 

Read more: Here's Why Tens of Thousands of Chilean Women Took to the Streets This Week

Research in March published by Amnesty International UK found that 1 in 5 women in the UK have suffered online abuse or harassment — and 55% said they had experienced anxiety, stress, or panic attacks as a result.

Meanwhile, a 2016 survey by Girlguiding found that 49% of women and girls aged between 11 and 21 said fear of online abuse made them feel less able to share their views. A quarter of those aged 11 to 21 said they had experienced cyberbullying, and 23% said they had had threatening things said about them on social media. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action to ensure that everyone has access to a quality basic education, and action on ending gender inequality. You can join us by taking action on these issues here