International Women’s Day is not just a celebration – for us, it is a reminder that we are yet to empower young girls to access their inherent right to quality education. Today we celebrate the role of education in advancing gender equality and building the women leaders of tomorrow.
For decades now, world leaders have talked about ending hunger, poverty and building a new world order based on human rights and gender equality.
However we still have an estimated 64 million girls and adolescent girls suffering in brutal conflicts, forced displacement and climate-induced disasters who are held back by illiteracy and left without hope for their future. Amidst all this, analysis indicates that as many as 20 million girls may never return to school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
It is not enough to have goals and a vision unless we turn that vision into action. Every girl has an inalienable right to a minimum of 12 years of quality education.
Young women and girls in #Zimbabwe still suffer multiple risks, such as trafficking, gender-based violence and early-childhood marriage, and thus are those left furthest behind in turning our goals and visions into reality. Their education must now come first.
Investing in girls’ education is not just about delivering on our promise of inclusive and equitable education, or SDG4, it is the very foundation for reaching all other goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Without an education, these girls will never be able to lift themselves out of abject poverty and we can no longer aspire to achieve gender equality.
Evidence indicates that investing in girls’ education provides one of the best returns-on-investment for overseas development assistance – and the enabling environment and strong women leaders and professionals we need to achieve the SDGs. According to Plan International Zimbabwe, every $1 spent on girls’ education has the potential to generate a general return of $2.8. This could boost GDP by 10% over the next 10 years, resulting in less poverty, hunger and violence, more resilience and greater capacity to respond to new fast-acting crises.
With just eight short years left to deliver on this global promise, we need to build on the progress made. We believe that it starts with #EducationFinancing. We know that lack of financing is the biggest challenge in achieving our vision of providing a quality and continued education for girls.
So, on this #InternationalWomen’sDay, let us remind ourselves that their right to an education is priceless.