McKinley Tretler is communications manager at Malala Fund. She works to develop and execute Malala Fund’s messaging and media strategies.
Malala Yousafzai and Education Champion Frances Uchenna Igwilo travelled to Paris last week to deliver a simple message to the G7: double your investment in girls’ education.
Educating all girls through secondary school could add up to $30 trillion to the global economy. It would improve public health, reduce conflict and help mitigate the effects of climate change. But with current funding for education in decline, these benefits remain out of reach. Just 10% of aid goes to countries where girls face the greatest challenges.
As part of Malala Fund’s Full Force campaign to increase financing for girls’ education, Malala and Frances met with President Macron and several G7 education and development ministers, and spoke at the “G7 France-UNESCO International Conference: Innovating for Girls' and Women's Empowerment Through Education” event in Paris on July 5, 2019.
Frances discussed her experience as a local activist, the challenges girls face and the opportunities new funding for education could create. “By 2050, Africa will be home to one-third of the world’s youth,” she shared during her speech. “If we equip our children with the skills they need to thrive, we unlock not only their incredible potential, but the incredible potential of our continent.”
In northern Nigeria, Frances works with her organisation, the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, to help girls go to school and challenge restrictive social norms. She runs peer clubs where girls share their experiences, develop leadership skills and learn how to advocate for their right to learn. She also holds town hall meetings where she speaks with families, community leaders and religious officials about the benefits of educating girls.
As host of the 2019 G7 Summit, France pledged to provide solutions to help tackle gender inequality and focus its efforts on the Sahel region of Africa, where 11 million children are out of school. In her remarks, Malala urged the G7 to double their aid to girls’ education in the Sahel, which would close the region’s current funding gap and help millions more girls go to school.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, 75% of girls start school — but only 8% will finish their secondary education. The rest of them, the vast majority, will be forced to set aside their aspirations and face early marriage or a lifetime of insecure work,” said Malala in her remarks to G7 ministers. “You have the power to determine budgets and change the lives of millions of girls. I hope you’ll join in doing your part and invest in girls’ education.”
In Paris, Malala Fund helped secure a commitment from G7 ministers to strengthen education systems in the Sahel — including with financial support. And when Frances and Malala met with President Macron, he confirmed his intent to work with G7 leaders to double the current level of funding and work with African governments to make sure the money is spent well.
Malala Fund will continue to pressure leaders in the run up to the G7 Summit in Biarritz to fulfil the commitments won in Paris last week.