International Women’s Day 2017: The female activists of the education movement being bold for chang

“There is no dearth of examples of strong women around us who continue to be a beacon of change. They are our teachers, our social workers, trainers, managers and parents… the believers in the power of education as the way forward.”

K. Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator, Pakistan Coalition for Education, and Civil Society Representative to the Global Partnership for Education Board of Directors

International Women’s Day 2017 is calling for us all to #BeBoldforChange, and it is without question that change is needed. Education is the human right which has the highest chance of transforming the lives of women and children, but 479 million women – 13% of the world’s female population – cannot read or write. 1 in 10 girls were out of primary school in 2014, compared with 1 in 12 boys. 47% of the 32 million girls who were out of school in 2014 are expected to never go to school – that’s over 15 million girls who will never see the inside of a classroom.

Civil society activists, at national, regional and international levels, have long campaigned for this change, and delivered actions on the ground to push progress forward:

  • Education For All Network (EFANet), Gambia: working with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), EFANet Gambia has supported the establishment of new TUSEME girls’ peer clubs in schools, promoting girls’ education through their empowerment.
  • Movimento de Educação para Todos (MEPT), Mozambique: MEPT is part of the government’s technical group working on girls’ education, and the coalition engaged with its members, broader civil society and the government to address issues affecting girls’ participation.
  • Civil Society Action Coalition for Education For All (CSACEFA), Nigeria: A survey was conducted to ascertain the level of enrolment, retention and completion of secondary education of girls in northern Nigeria. Coalition members used the results for advocacy and sensitisation activities with the general public. In addition, the coalition has translated the Malala Fund advocacy guide into Hausa for use at the local level.
  • Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE): PCE carried out budget tracking, focused particularly on budgeting in relation to girls’ education, in 17 districts across the country under the title Do Schools Get Money 2016.

But as we fight for women’s and girls’ right to education, we must also recognise and celebrate the many women who are already being bold for change: the female activists and leaders of the education civil society movement. Celebrating their stories, and shining a light on their work, must be integral to the movement as a means to drive positive change for all women.

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