CARE's commitment to securing the future of marginalized girls
31 MILLION - this is the number of adolescent girls under 18 years of age who are missing out on the opportunity to participate in secondary education. Many more will drop out before they complete lower secondary school. Another 30 million girls of primary school age are out of school and yet, 15 million of these are expected never to be enrolled in a school…ever! These are the girls who are missing out on the opportunity to learn critical skills that impact the choices they will have to make. This lack of education will allow other people to make decisions for them, decisions that are often detrimental. These girls are unlikely to have the capacity to engage in economic opportunities of their own choosing. It will determine their destiny – one that they had no part in crafting. One that puts them at risk of exploitation and abuse, and tightly wraps them in the tentacles of poverty.
In September 2014, CARE launched its new Education Strategy 2020 that articulates CARE’s vision of not only addressing access to equitable education, but also seeks to elucidate the other drivers of social inequality that impact the education of the most marginalized groups - ideologies and practices that promote the isolation and discrimination of girls when it comes to accessing education and other social rights. On September 24, 2014, at the Clinton Global Initiative 2014, CARE committed $7million to reach at least 500,000 marginalized children with access to a quality and equitable education that will empower them to be engaged, active and well informed members of society. CARE believes that education is a powerful platform for transforming societies. It is a tool for intergenerational social and normative change that can have a catalytic effect on addressing the root causes of negative ideologies that promote gender inequality, and deny girls and women opportunities to participate in decision making on issues that impact their lives, such as early marriage, reproductive health, pursuing a career, etc. CARE is looking particularly at older adolescents, who are unlikely to transition into secondary education and acquire critical skills to master technology, finances and small businesses. We believe that a combination of leadership skills, quality education and gender transformative programming can empower older girls to promote dramatic changes in their own lives.
The call, heralded by Secretary Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorable Julia Gillard, and others, is a call for the world to take notice and take charge of girls’ education, not only for the girls’ themselves, but for the survival of humanity. This year, Secretary Hillary Clinton announced the launch of Girls CHARGE (Collaborative Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Global Education), a $600million initiative committed to addressing the second generation of issues that prohibit girls from going to and staying in secondary school. CARE is proud to be a part of this initiative and over the next five years we commit to making the vision of its Education Strategy 2020 a reality for the millions of girls we work with around the globe. Girls’ like Asrebeb Getenet, who escaped a forced marriage at only 15 years of age in her native village in Ethiopia, and was able to go back to school and learn vital skills that empowered her to later start her own advocacy group targeting girls at risk of early marriage. It is for these girls, her sisters and brothers that CARE believes in education and empowerment for all. Their futures depend on our actions and support now.
Written by Joyce Adolwa, CARE Education Team