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.
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 http://www.ungei.org/