Around the world children are returning to or starting school for the first time. For many families the beginning of the school year is a time of hope and excitement. Children are looking forward to meeting new friends, learning and trying new activities. What we so often forget amongst the bustle of new school supplies and first day pictures is that millions of children all around the world go without an education.
2013 estimates indicate that 59 million children did not have access to an elementary school education, over half of these children are girls. Lack of education has long term detrimental effects on everything from the ability to find and secure work to child and maternal health. A good education is critical to the development of children and to the sustainable development of societies. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said; “There is no tool more effective for development than the education of girls.”
The Global Rights for Women team spent last week in New York with thousands of women – and some men – who traveled from around the world to attend the United Nations’ 60th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting. This was my first time attending CSW and gathering with such a diverse and energized group of women who are working to promote women’s human rights was deeply inspiring and informative. The insights gleaned from CSW 2016 provide us with excellent guidance as Global Rights for Women looks toward the future of growing and deepening our work on violence against women and girls (VAWG) around the world.
Emerging from the many conversations, panels and connections at CSW I was struck by two key takeaways. First, violence and coercion against women by men thrives around the world. Female to female alliances, with the support of critical male allies, is a powerful force to counter this violence. Second, women who are working within their own organizations and communities to combat VAWG have a deep need for convening and connection with other women doing similar work.