At the announcement on Wednesday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recalled a girl she and her daughter, Chelsea, had met on a trip to Pakistan. The girl had attended primary school, but was not allowed to continue her education. Hillary told the crowd that this encounter—along with the experiences of Malala Yousafazi in Pakistan and the three hundred Nigerian girls who were kidnapped while attending secondary school in the village of Chibok, Nigeria—had inspired the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings effort to make a new commitment. Clinton added, “We know that when girls have equal access to education in both primary and secondary schools, cycles of poverty are broken, economies grow, glass ceilings crack, and potential is unleashed.”
With that guiding principle in mind, No Ceilings has joined forces with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution to launch Girls’ CHARGE (Collaborative Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Global Education), a collective endeavor of over 30 NGOs, private corporations, and civil organizations. The groups hope to ensure the continued education of 14 million girls over the next five years, focusing on these five goals:
- Ensure that girls enter and stay in school through secondary education.
- Ensure that schools are safe and facilities are girl-friendly.
- Improve the quality of learning opportunities for girls.
- Support girls’ transition from secondary to post-secondary school and the workforce.
- Support leaders in developing countries to help catalyze change in girls’ education.
In an interview on Tuesday, Jennifer Klein, Senior Advisor for Women and Girls Programs, spoke of the “intractable barriers that prevent girls from continuing their education.” In Sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia, where 80 percent of the world’s undereducated girls reside, female students are vulnerable to kidnapping and violence on their way to school, and can face sexual harassment and lack of adequate sanitation once they make it through the schoolhouse door. CGI partners such as the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack are working to provide technical assistance to help countries adapt and adhere to Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
Rachel Vogelstein, director of the Clinton Foundation’s Women and Girls Programs, added that organizations such as BRAC and UNICEF are working with CGI to improve safety in schools by “raising awareness about harassment, creating safe spaces, providing adolescent life skills training, and education on gender-based violence.”
Meanwhile, No Ceilings and the Brookings Institution plan to help improve girls’ education by tracking and quantifying educational quality and outcomes. Corporate partners such as Discovery Communications and governmental organizations such as the Government of Nepal will work to increase the number of female teachers and offer them training and ongoing professional development.