Education International
Education International

Message by Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International, on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October 2013

published 11 October 2013 updated 5 August 2015

The International Day of the Girl Child was celebrated for the first time in 2012 as a way of promoting girls’ human rights and focusing attention on the many challenges faced by girl children all over the world. Education International (EI) welcomes this year’s theme to mark Girl Child Day: Innovating for Girls’ Education.

A focus on girls’ education is timely because the world has a true catastrophe on its hands: according to global statistics compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 31 million girls are not in primary school, 17 million of them will never to enter a classroom; and 34 million adolescent girls are out of secondary school.

This state of affairs is simply unacceptable when we know that having an education, especially for girls, transforms lives, and is the difference between life and death:

o If all mothers were educated to primary level in sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of maternal deaths would be avoided

o If all women had primary education, there would be 15% fewer child deaths in the world

When girls are educated they are not only able to meet their own personal goals, but also social, cultural, environmental and economic goals:

o Girls with higher levels of education are less likely to have children at an early age

o Girls with higher levels of education are less likely to get married at an early age

o Educated women are more likely to move from precarious to decent work

Improving the life chances of girl children must be done on a sustainable basis; this means that measures that target the girl child must always be accompanied by measures to address the deeply entrenched inequalities that affect women. In the education sector, this means empowering women teachers, more so because of the direct correlation between a higher number of qualified female teachers in a school, and the higher number of girls who will remain in that school and complete their education.

The affiliates of Education International stand united on the International Day of the Girl Child, to demand that governments do more to guarantee the right of all girls to: publically funded quality education, delivered by quality teachers in quality schools with a broad range of quality teaching materials, complemented with the most innovative information, communication and technological tools. 30 million teachers in 170 countries and territories ask for no more, and will settle for no less for every single girl child in the world.