The Girls' Education Forum 2016: No girl left behind

On 7 July, the UK Government joins forces Global Citizen + CHIME FOR CHANGE to host the Girls’ Education Forum 2016 and bring global attention to the issue of girls’ education. Youth For Change were there, along with governments, private sector stakeholders, civil society partners and education champions.

Youth For Change UK activist Gemma Munday was there to capture the action...

Going to school sometimes felt like a chore. Dragging myself out of bed early, trying not to daydream too much in class. As a kid growing up in the UK, where school is part of the daily routine, you don’t always appreciate the power education holds in enabling you to make choices.  As I grew older I became aware of the fact that not everyone had the same opportunities as me. I became aware of the scale of the injustice against my own gender.

Let’s take a look at some stats. Every two seconds a girl is forced into marriage. Every ten seconds a girl is at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). And every day 65 million girls don’t go to school, denied the opportunity simply because they are girls.

But this isn’t just about stats; it’s about real girls with real lives. When was given the amazing opportunity to become an International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteer in India, I met Nadia. She convinced her parents not to marry her off young so she could finish school. She then went on to complete university and now teaches girls empowerment groups in her local communities, addressing everything from periods to leadership. She is proof that young people are the most powerful advocates of their own rights.

I have since joined Youth For Change, a project ran by young volunteers campaigning to end FGM and child marriage - harmful practices which are often the cause of girls dropping out of school globally.

That’s why today, I’m attending the Girls' Education Forum as part of the #SheWill campaign. Bringing decision makers, youth networks and leaders together to launch a global action plan that will ensure that no girl is left behind, and that girls don’t just go to school - they stay in school and get a quality education.

The day has been filled with some incredible workshops. We've discussed making education for girls with disabilities a reality, and protecting girls affected by conflict through education - Secretary of State Justine Greening and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard shared the fantastic #EducationCannotWait campaign.

We learnt from Discovery and sQuid about how technology can be used to expand access to education, and discovered how improving self-esteem and confidence can be the the key to unlocking girls' education. 

Another highlight was hearing from Send My Friend To School, and amazing campaign connecting young people across the UK with the issue of global education and activism. I’ve also met some inspiring young people, and been lucky enough to hear them speak, including Soniya from Nepal, who volunteered in the Nepal Earthquake response with Restless Development, and Syrian refugee & girls education campaigner Muzoon Almellehan.

Now more than ever, I feel optimistic about the potential for change we have in the coming months and years to get things right for girls everywhere.  Join me in making sure we can say she will learn and she will make her own choices, about every girl, everywhere.

Find out more about Global Citizen + CHIMES #SheWill campaign.

Find out how UK Aid empowers girls around the world.

Some names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

More photos from the event...

Girls' Education Forum 2016