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#SheWill: International groups strive for girls’ education

In Australia, girls are beating boys educationally, yet worldwide they’re way behind.

The British government, together with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Global Partnership for Education, for which former prime minister Julia Gillard is board chair, are seeking to change this.

Yesterday, these bodies collectively pledged about $200 million towards encouraging the education of disadvantaged girls, worldwide. This occurred at the Girls’ Education Forum in London, which brought together governments and private-sector stakeholders to propel the implementation of Global Goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” by 2030.

Justine Greening, a British Conservative Party politician and secretary of state for international development, declared her support for the undertaking from the stage podium: “I never planned to go into politics … but I did it because I think people who don’t have a voice should be listened to … The girls we were talking about today don’t have a voice.”

Gillard tweeted her support:

Educate a girl. #SheWill have the opportunity to change her life, her community, and our world for the better @DFID_UK

— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillardGPE) July 7, 2016

The UN The World’s Women 2015 report revealed that about two-thirds of women are illiterate. The UN Girls Education Initiative report states that girls from more than half of the world’s nations are subject to inadequate education.

Insufficient schooling can have dire consequences. Research from UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank’s World Development Report 2012 and the Global Partnership for Education has shown that better educated girls are more likely to marry later and have higher incomes; they also have fewer and healthier children, who attend school and escape poverty. These girls are also less likely to contract HIV/AIDS or malaria, undergo genital mutilation, die in pregnancy, or childbirth, or have children who die in infancy.

One of the Girls’ Education Forum’s convenors, the advocacy organisation Global Citizen, has spawned the #SheWill campaign, to virally spread the fact that 63 million girls worldwide are not being educated.

With Gillard’s involvement and a trendy Twitter hashtag, Australia is likely to get the message.

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