As part of its continuous efforts to promote gender equality through education in developing countries, Dubai Cares today announced that it has partnered with Plan International Canada, one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, to launch a portfolio of three girls’ education programs in Philippines, Mozambique and South Sudan. Dubai Cares will drive the programs by investing an approximate total of AED 22.02 million (USD 6 million) in the three countries over the course of four years.
Through these programs, Dubai Cares and Plan International Canada aim to empower girls to realize their rights by working to improve completion rates for primary school and facilitating an easy transition from primary to secondary school. They will also reach out to girls, who have discontinued or did not have access to education due to social pressures, to rejoin the student force. All three programs will work with local NGOs and government partners to reduce the physical barriers to education; improve the quality, relevance and gender sensitivity of teaching and transform the school environment to a safer, more supportive and girl-friendly one.
Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Cares made the announcement at a media roundtable organized in the lead-up to the International Day of the Girl Child. He said: “Around the world, millions of girls face barriers to education that boys usually do not, something many of us at Dubai Cares have witnessed during our field visits. Our support for Philippines, Mozambique and South Sudan underscores our belief that girls’ education is significant in the fight against poverty. It creates a ripple effect of positive change in the community and country. As future mothers and wives, who will play an integral role in nurturing and raising families, these girls hold the key to a future generation of educated and enlightened children.”
International Day of the Girl was formally declared by the United Nations in 2012 following a two-year campaign led by Plan International Canada to recognize girls’ rights globally and support action to address discrimination and other barriers young girls face. Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan International Canada said, “We know that the single, most powerful way to advance the rights and opportunities of girls is through education. We are incredibly grateful for Dubai Cares' support of these important girls' education initiatives in countries where there are consistent barriers to accessing and completing quality education. This work includes building schools that are safe and child-friendly; training and certifying teachers; and, enabling girls who have experienced child marriage or pregnancy to return to formal education. We are proud to partner with Dubai Cares on such important programs that will ultimately benefit tens of thousands of individuals.”
Gender equality is a cross cutting theme in all Dubai Cares’ education programs with an approach that aims to secure equal access for boys and girls to safe learning environments with adequate facilities, materials and academic support from qualified teachers and engaged communities. As in all Dubai Cares programs, achieving gender equality is a fundamental objective. Dubai Cares is working with several international NGOs to support government efforts that promote girls’ education in rural areas and ensure gender equality in primary schools, such as in Yemen, where the organization supported both policy formulation and direct involvement in rural communities.
A more girls’ focused program is Dubai Cares intervention in Pakistan. The UAE-based philanthropic organization is powering girls’ education programs in the South Punjab and Upper Sindh regions of Pakistan to improve girls’ enrolment and retention in school. In a region where boys are three times more likely than girls to receive a primary education, the program is benefiting 70,000 girls and 500 teachers and also positively impact 4,500 mothers and over 15,000 community members.
Recent statistics worldwide show that a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past age 5, and that 1 in 5 girls of lower secondary school age is out of school. Other statistics have also revealed that 1 in every 3 girls in the developing world is married by the age of eighteen. Removing barriers to girls’ education, such as early and forced marriage, domestic slavery, sex trafficking, gender violence and discrimination, lack of access to healthcare and school fees means not only a better life for girls, but also a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all.
Dubai Cares commitment to these programs is in alignment with the 5 year ‘Global Education First Initiative’, which the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon launched in September 2012 during the week of the UN General Assembly in New York, where Ban Ki-Moon selected Dubai Cares to be a member in the Technical Advisory Group of the initiative.