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G7 leaders must fund ambitious girls' education targets

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We welcome the Girls’ Education Declaration endorsed on Sunday but remain concerned that financial commitments do not go far enough to address the massive financing gap facing the education sector.

Plan International welcomes the Girls' Education Declaration that was endorsed Sunday in the Carbis Bay G7 Leaders Summit Communique, but remains concerned that financial commitments do not go far enough to meet the ambitious targets and address the massive financing gap facing the education sector.

At a time when the world is facing major reversals to progress on girls' education, we expect the wealthy nations of the G7 to step up and ensure that the most vulnerable girls are not left behind. While the $2.75 billion pledged to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) by G7 leaders is commendable, it falls short of the $3.5 billion Plan International and our civil society partners were calling for, missing an opportunity for bold leadership to address the education crisis.

Yona Nestel, Plan International's Inclusive Quality Education Lead, said: "The impacts of COVID-19 on girls' rights and particularly their right to education are alarming and far reaching. This isn't the time for status quo and flatlining financial commitments. To ensure that rhetoric meets reality, G7 leaders must address the estimated $200 billion annual funding gap in education."

"While Plan International welcomes the G7 leader's efforts to prioritise girls' education, and the push towards a gender-transformative education, further investment is needed to meet the $5 billion target to replenish the GPE. We are calling on G7 leaders and other donor countries to step up and fill this gap. Going forward, we want to see G7 leaders held to account on their commitments, including by girls themselves."

GIRLS' EDUCATION DECLARATION

In May, the UK government launched the 'Declaration on Girls' Education: recovering from COVID-19 and unlocking agenda 2030'. Supported by the Girls' Education Action Plan, the Declaration outlined commitments to ensure:

  • 40 million more girls in school by 2026 in low and lower-middle income countries; and
  • 20 million more girls reading by age 10 or the end of primary school in low and lower-middle income countries by 2026.

The declaration -- endorsed by all G7 Leaders today -- acknowledges the impact of COVID-19 on education systems and outlines political commitments to empower girls to lead change, including in efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

It commits to more inclusive and resilient school systems to confront the challenges of the accelerating climate crisis and other future shocks. This is in line with Plan International's calls for education that advances gender equality and climate justice. It also identifies the need to address sexual and gender-based violence and access to comprehensive sexuality education, issues that are consistently raised and prioritised by girl advocates themselves.

Plan International welcomes the declaration and action plan as an ambitious step towards addressing the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on girls' rights. We hope that this will ensure girls globally can benefit from an inclusive and gender-transformative education. However, without ambitious levels of funding the declaration and action plan risk making unfulfilled promises to the world's most vulnerable girls at a time where their needs have never been higher.

FINANCING GPE

G7 leaders have so far pledged a total of $2.75 billion to the GPE. This includes an ambitious pledge from the EU of $847 million (€700 million) over the next 7 years, $605 million (£430 million) over 5 years from the UK, $411 million (CAD$500 million) from Canada and $30 million (€25 million) from Italy. While these commitments are a good start, they currently fall short of the $5 billion required from donors, specifically the $3.5 billion expected from G7 countries.

At the world's largest youth-led virtual power shift on Monday of last week, young activists called on G7 leaders to prioritise funding for girls' education and partner with youth. To fulfil the ambitious targets set out in the declaration, G7 leaders must be accountable to girls and young women and increase investments ahead of GPE's Global Education Summit at the end of July.

While we are pleased that G7 leaders have acknowledged the transformative power of education, there is still a long way to go. As we look ahead to the GPE Global Education Summit and COP26, we call on governments to back up political commitments on girls' education with increased investment and action.