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This week the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly gets underway with the gender and education two key focus areas (Photo: UN/Kim Haughton).

UN General Assembly 2018: pressing for the empowerment of girls through education

By Deepshikha Hooda & Sarah Winfield, UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI)

“To promote our goal of gender equality, we will press for the empowerment of women and girls, keeping in mind the important role of men and boys, making it clear that life is better for all of us when all people have equal access to economic, social and political life in our societies.”

-María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador, President of the 73rd session of the UNGA

In her opening remarks at the start of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the incoming President, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador, dedicated her Presidency to women and girls. Only the fourth female President in the world body’s 73 year history, the focus brought to gender-related issues by Ms Espinosa’s leadership is greatly welcomed by UNGEI and all those striving to advance gender equality in and through education.

Outlining her seven priorities as UNGA President, Ms Espinosa spoke of her commitment to promoting gender equality through the empowerment of women and girls, “making it clear that life is better for all of us when all people have equal access to economic, social and political life in our societies.” The spotlight on women and girls seems particularly pertinent given that the general UNGA debate will this year focus on global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies. In all these areas, we know that progressing the gender agenda is key.

Reflecting this, high among the UNGA areas of focus is the goal of delivering equitable, quality and inclusive education (SDG4) that leaves no one behind, with a special focus on girls. With only 12 years left to achieve the SDGs, the attention paid to girls, too often the most marginalised in education, is greatly needed.

While many meetings and events scheduled over the course of UNGA speak to these priority areas, we wanted to highlight our ‘top five’, with links to livestreams and further information.

Make Impossible Possible: Unlocking human potential through education

Mon 24 Sep, 18.00–19.30

Hosted by the Education Commission, this high-level event will bring together advocates from the fields of philanthropy, business and civil society to advocate for education and garner support for the International Finance Facility for Education as a vehicle for galvanising investment in education. Read more here.

Data driving change: EM2030 SDG Gender Index

Mon 24 Sep, 12.30–14.30

Organised by Equal Measures 2030, gender, data and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) advocates will come together for the launch of the Equal Measures 2030 SDG Gender Index Framework, and a brand new Gender Advocates Data Hub to address gaps in gender data. The event will also highlight insights gleaned from the stories of hundreds of education advocates around the world. Learn more here.

Addressing the Needs of Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Bridging the policy and programming gap

Mon 24 Sep, 15.00–17.00

Organised by Plan International in collaboration with the governments of Denmark, the Philippines, OCHA, and UNICEF, this high level event will shed light on the key issues around the needs of adolescent girls in emergency settings. This includes Rohingya refugee girls in Cox’s Bazaar and those growing up in the midst of conflict in South Sudan. Read more here.

12 Years to Break Barriers and Leave no Girl Behind: Countdown 2030

Tues 25 Sep, 16.00–18.00

Hosted by the governments of France, Canada, Kenya, Mali, Niger, and the UK, this event will explore how action can be accelerated for all girls to obtain 12 years of quality education. President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Prime Minister Theresa May of the UK will make opening remarks, which will be followed by pledges of commitment, and panel discussions on girls’ education in crisis contexts and cross-sectoral approaches to promoting health and education. Learn more here.

Action for Refugee Education

Wed 26 Sep, 14.00–17.00

A high level meeting, the Action for Refugee Education event hosted by Save the Children and partners represents a collaboration between refugee hosting states, civil society actors, and influential policy makers, from Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to Kristalina Georgieva, CEO World Bank. The discussion will centre on improving efforts towards quality education for refugees. Read more here.

For all the latest UNGA updates around issues relating to gender and education, follow and engage with UNGEI across our digital platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Medium.

Want to learn more about UNGA 2018?

-Watch Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés’ opening remarks at the 73rd Session of the UNGA.

- Read UN Women’s blog post ‘Everything you need to know about gender equality at the United Nations General Assembly’

- Access the UNGA 2018 Guide



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