Dubai Cares today concluded “Bridging the Gulf to Girls’ Education”, a two-day roundtable to strengthen the discourse on the importance of girls’ education as an important step in breaking the cycle of poverty. Organized in partnership with international development charity, Plan International, the roundtable was attended by over 50 representatives from regional and international organizations and was held in support of Plan International’s “Because I am a girl” initiative, a global advocacy campaign for girls’ rights.
Based in the UAE and founded in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Cares has partnered with several leading international organizations in countries like Yemen, Pakistan, Djibouti and Niger to ensure that girls, too, go to school. Here at home, during the Holy Month of Ramadan in 2011, Dubai Cares launched its Girls’ Education Campaign to raise awareness of the gender imbalances in primary education worldwide and raise funds to support Dubai Cares girls’ education programs.
Addressing roundtable participants during her opening keynote speech, H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Chairperson of Dubai Cares, said: “Although most developing countries have made considerable progress in reducing the gender gap in school enrollment, significant gaps remain. Estimates show that many countries will not meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals related to education by 2015. We believe that girls’ education is a universal right and we are doing our part by ensuring gender equality is a theme that cuts across all Dubai Cares primary education programs.”
Commenting on the aim of the workshop, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, said: “We convened stakeholders from across the region to share best practices on promoting girls’ education and ensuring girls’ education becomes a priority for key regional donors and aid agencies. The roundtable is in line with our commitment to advocating for girls’ education by promoting dialogue and knowledge transfer and creating a common network for philanthropists.”
Currently, girls constitute 55% of all out-of-school children around the world and although the gender gap with regard to primary education and enrollment has narrowed over the past few decades, sharp differences remain in some countries including the Arab world. Globally, for every 100 boys out of school, there are 122 girls. In the region, the gap is higher. For every 100 boys out of school in Yemen there are 270 girls, in Iraq 316 girls, and in India 426 girls (UNESCO GMR, 2007).
Commenting on Plan International’s partnership with Dubai Cares in support of girls’ education, Rosemary McCarney, CEO Plan Canada, said: “Plan and Dubai Cares have come together to combine practice and good research on advancing girls’ education around the world. Plan’s commitment through our ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative is manifested in our programming, our policy and advocacy work, and our research, shared everywhere each year in our annual State of the World’s Girls reports.”
She added: “Dubai Cares is already a leader and a thoughtful partner in girl’s education working with Plan to support primary education initiatives in Sierra Leone and South Sudan. These two days are part of Dubai Cares’ and Plan’s commitment to furthering the education focus on girls, by creating a ‘space’ for all of us to come together to learn by sharing lessons and practices – both good and bad – in the spirit of being a learning community in this rapidly changing part of the world.”
In Pakistan, only 26% of girls are literate. There are 163,000 primary schools in Pakistan, of which merely 40,000 cater to girls. According to UNESCO, primary school enrolment for girls stands at 60% as compared to 84% for boys. In Egypt, the net enrollment and attendance rates are high for basic education, at 97% and 84% for boys, and 94% and 82% for girls. However, nearly 400,000 children in Egypt, mainly girls, are not enrolled in primary and preparatory schools.