IWD 2024: Investing in girls’ education

Statement by Friedrich Affolter and Michelle Brown, Directors of the Global Education Cluster:

Gender equality is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 5, but it is also recognized as a critical pillar of SDG 4: the right to education for all. Girls’ education has the potential to transform communities around the globe, and education partners have committed to eliminating gender disparities in education by 2030. 

However, when we look at the realities of the operating environment against a backdrop of bleak global developments, it is impossible to ignore the significant gaps in resourcing and overall progress when it comes to realizing safe and inclusive education for girls. COVID-19, conflict, climate change and other major crises have brought gender inequality into sharp focus, deepening existing divides and mounting new obstacles vis-a-vis economic opportunity, healthcare and education.  

Trends show that despite hopeful increases in recent years, global funding for women and girls in humanitarian crises is still falling short. Gender-based violence (GBV) is endemic in all corners of the world, but support for gender equality and GBV Risk Mitigation interventions in emergency contexts remains a small fraction of total international humanitarian assistance. Education Clusters often cite a lack of adequate funding as one of the primary barriers to planning, implementing, and monitoring such interventions in Education in Emergencies responses.  

"Mitigating risks of gender-based violence in the humanitarian response is a collective responsibility to which all of us must contribute." 

The Global Education Cluster’s newly released Learning Brief outlines good practices for gender and GBV Risk Mitigation integration across the Humanitarian Programme Cycle. It showcases examples of Education Clusters investing in and supporting Women-Led Organizations as priority partners and change-makers. The Brief shares successful approaches to gender-responsive Education in Emergencies coordination, including through the amplification of women’s and girls’ voices in education, advocacy and resource mobilization for gender equality and GBV Risk Mitigation interventions, and collaboration with GBV and Child Protection actors.  

We know that investment in girls’ education yields benefits for communities and can have positive ripple effects on society more broadly. Educating girls can contribute to the reduction of child marriage, propel economic growth, improve health outcomes, and advance global gender equality aims. Schools and learning spaces should be safe, protective environments where girls can access learning opportunities – even in the midst of a crisis. And mitigating risks of gender-based violence in the humanitarian response is a collective responsibility to which all of us must contribute. This International Women’s Day, we call on partners and leaders to scale up investments in girls’ education. 


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