29 May 2015: Last week, education policymakers, experts and activists met in Incheon, Korea, for the 2015 World Education Forum (WEF).
It was at this meeting that education ministers from more than 100 countries agreed on a future education agenda that is truly ambitious. It is also an agenda that includes important statements on gender equality that have the potential to transform the lives of girls around the world, both in and out of school.
Plan International was in Korea during the WEF, working to place the unique experiences and needs of adolescent girls at the heart of the decision-making process.
In particular, Plan’s lobbying efforts helped to influence and strengthen key statements on gender equality and participation including:
Recognising the importance of gender equality in achieving the right to education, including a commitment to supporting gender-sensitive policies, planning and learning environments.
This is significant because girls – especially those from marginalised groups – face additional, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination in their everyday lives, and they require education systems that work to address, and actively challenge, that discrimination at all levels.
Defining ‘quality education’ as being delivered in safe, supportive and secure learning environments, free from violence including school-related gender-based violence.
Plan’s own research has shown the real cost of gender-based violence in and around schools, particularly for girls, so it is encouraging to see leaders recognise school-related gender-based violence as a barrier to education that requires urgent action.
Agreeing to uphold the right to participation of all stakeholders in education governance processes.
Plan champions the full and meaningful participation of children and young people in all its work, and our efforts at WEF were no different. Indeed, part of Plan’s delegation to WEF included adolescent girl advocates from Pakistan and the Philippines. Read an interview with the girls here.
Beyond that, we wanted to ensure that the voices of children and youth (particularly adolescent girls and those from other marginalised groups), as well as families and communities are heard in the planning, delivery and monitoring of the education agenda.
This will help ensure that education systems are more democratic, transparent and accountable, and as the agenda gets implemented in the months ahead, we expect to see all stakeholders, including children and young people, central to education governance processes.
What happens next?
Our work doesn’t stop at WEF.
The education agenda approved in Korea will form one part of the Sustainable Development Goals to be agreed by leaders at the UN in New York this September.
Plan will continue to advocate with and for adolescent girls around the world in order to guarantee the global goals recognise and respect the rights of girls everywhere to learn, lead, decide, and thrive.