From youth economic empowerment to girls in the post-2015 framework, the European Institutions were abuzz with events and activities. We were particularly delighted to see Commissioner Designate for Development, Neven Mimica, confirm that gender equality would be one of his top priorities during his time in office.
This is of course very good news, because urgent action is needed to tackle the rampant inequality which continues to deny girls the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
The challenge is to transform these positive words into concrete action on the ground. Through targeted action, improved data collection and monitoring, and fostering country ownership and an enabling environment at national level, the EU can play a leading role in catalysing lasting change for girls.
We are looking forward to working with Commissioner Mimica once he takes office to ensure he takes up this challenge.
Education and empowerment
Quality education and economic empowerment must be two priority areas for EU action. Youth unemployment is a growing global concern, with some 75 million young people in the developing world unemployed and hundreds of millions more underemployed. The situation is particularly difficult for girls and women, who face even greater challenges than their male counterparts in securing decent, productive work.
The provision of quality education, which equips girls with the skills necessary to succeed in life and adequately prepares them to enter the labour market, is critical. Plan is already partnering with the European Commission to educate and empower young women economically, and next month I will have the opportunity to travel to Indonesia to witness the impact of these projects first hand. I look forward to reporting back on the work being done and the progress achieved.
Making two plans one
By ensuring its policies and funding have girls’ rights at their heart, the EU can empower millions of girls throughout the world to realise their rights and ensure a better future. With the review of both the gender action plan and the human rights strategic framework coming up, the EU has a golden opportunity make sure this is the case.
We therefore interviewed Silvio Gonzato, the recently appointed Director for Human Rights and Democracy at the European External Action Service, to get his thoughts on how best to align the two plans in order to provide a complementary and coherent strategy towards girls’ empowerment (video here). He can count on Plan's support during the review process to ensure this is achieved.
Finally, I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, who were awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. In their own right, they have campaigned tirelessly to ensure all children receive a quality education, and the award is recognition of the importance of their work.
Since she was so brutally attacked by the Taliban two years ago, Malala has continued to courageously stand up for the rights of the millions of girls and boys around the world who continue to be denied an education. She is an inspirational young woman and I couldn't think of a more fitting way to celebrate the International Day of the Girl!