Girls, Too

30 December 2008, Issue No. 22 - EFA High Level Group Meeting Wrap-up

Issue No. 22, 30 December 2008
United Nations Girls Education Initative
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EFA High Level Group Meeting Wrap-up
Education for All
UNESCO/Justin Mott

Dear UNGEI Supporters,

As we come to the end of another productive year as champions of girls’ education, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative would like to thank you for your persistent support of our vision and mission. It is through your ongoing participation and the invaluable contributions of our Global Advisory Committee that we are able to continue making advances towards MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education and MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.

Our recent involvement in the Education for All High Level Group Meeting, held in Oslo, Norway from 16 to 18 December, not only served as a testament to our dedication towards eliminating gender disparity in education, but gave us the opportunity to reflect on the advances UNGEI has made throughout the year.

Using the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009 as an informant to the meeting, four broad themes were consistently addressed: the role of education in meeting global challenges; equity and governance; teachers; and financing education.

Below is a short summary of UNGEI’s activities and other EFA accomplishments during the meeting:

  • Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, UNICEF’s Eminent Advocate for Children, made impassioned statements on the importance of girls' education as she addressed the audience during the opening ceremony of the High Level Group meeting.  “All of these challenges are difficult, but not one is insurmountable,” she relayed to the meeting’s attendees, which included heads of state, ministers, leading officials from international organizations, and representatives from civil society and the private sector. “It isn’t often that the logic behind a policy is so clear. But when it comes to the value of educating girls, the evidence speaks for itself.”

  • The UNGEI gender review of the 2009 Global Monitoring Report, Transforming Policy and Practice for Gender, was launched during a girls' education luncheon held on the second day of the meeting. Hosted by Erik Solheim, Norway's Minister of the Environment and International Development, the luncheon provided an opportunity for UNGEI Global Advisory Committee Co-Chair May Rihani to announce the appointment of the Norwegian Minister and Ulla Tørnæs, the Danish Minister of Development Cooperation, as UNGEI Global Champions. Other notable luncheon speakers included UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo, Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, and the Ministers of Education from Madagascar and Burkina Faso.

  • The Government of Norway renewed its commitment to children by signing an agreement that would provide approximately $159 million for the 2008-2009 period, an increase of $9 million over previous years, to UNICEF programmes for children. Most of the funding - 85 per cent - will go toward supporting UNICEF programmes in basic education and gender equality. The remaining funds will be allocated for programmes in water and sanitation, child protection, policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights.

In addition to the meeting activities, the first in a series of podcast discussions with Nobel Peace Prize winners (awarded each year in Oslo) was launched.  The initial interview featured a conversation with South African human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which underscores the recent signing, by more than 30 winners of the humanitarian prize, of a joint statement that calls for urgent action to provide quality education and build peace in conflict-affected countries.

While we feel we have accomplished a great deal in 2008, there is still much we must do to achieve a world where all girls and boys are empowered through quality education.  We invite you to join us as we continue our work of transforming societies into places where gender equality becomes a reality.
Thank you and may you continue to have joy, prosperity and peace in the New Year!


Cheryl Gregory Faye, Head of Secretariat
United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative



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