Grassroots Diplomacy: The Heart of a Successful Girls’ Education Program

Grassroots Diplomacy: The Heart of a Successful Girls’ Education Program

For the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) to succeed, education diplomacy skills will be critical. They will be needed to facilitate the cooperation, coordination, and collaboration so that key stakeholders are engaged, supportive, and working toward project sustainability goals. Sustainability means going beyond ensuring that girls enjoy the benefits of being able to complete a full cycle of education and are equipped for further education and employment. It also means that the programme achieves lasting change, leaving a legacy of better opportunities for future girls and boys. It means that families, communities, and schools are able to continue providing support to new generations of girls and boys—helping them to enter and progress through school, and gain a good quality education in a safe and stimulating environment.

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A Three-Part Case for Education Diplomacy in Girls’ Education Leadership

A Three-Part Case for Education Diplomacy in Girls’ Education Leadership

Plan International’s Because I am a Girl, Girl Rising’s #62milliongirls, and ONE’s #GirlsCount are but a few of the global girls’ education social campaigns to have taken hold of hearts and minds in the Global North over the last five years. In a political ecosystem where girls’ education advocates are playing a key role as girls’ education policy- and decision-makers, implementers, and donors, one might wonder whether education diplomats might simply overwhelm an already crowded space. I would argue to the contrary: girls’ education diplomats are needed now more than ever.

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Girls’ Education Challenge

Girls’ Education Challenge

During a sweltering week in July, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University London brought together a diverse group of education actors for an intense three-day roundtable. We were there to provide actionable advice on how the UK could use its diplomatic muscle to support the global effort to get girls into school. As we poured our passion into each session, I realized something often overlooked: grassroots diplomacy is at the very heart of a successful girls’ education program.

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Reaching All Girls With Education

Reaching All Girls With Education

Not all children have access to education—and girls are the most excluded. When we look at the demographics of out-of-school girls, we see some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our global community. Married girls and child mothers, refugee and displaced girls, girls living in the poorest households in the poorest communities, orphaned and abandoned girls, girls with physical and cognitive disabilities, and girls trafficked for labor and sex are those least likely to stay in school, or even step foot into a classroom in the first place. Already in harrowing situations, these girls face increased risks and challenges because they are cut off from the educational and social resources that school provides. With governments, UN agencies, and organizations already working toward increased access for girls, reaching more girls with education requires more people from within and outside of the education sector to advocate on their behalf.

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Education Cannot Wait

Education Cannot Wait

Education Diplomacy is fundamental to ensuring girls in vulnerable settings are able to overcome the complex, systemic barriers they face that inhibit access to quality education in emergency and fragile contexts. Yasmine Sherif, a model Education Diplomat and Director of Education Cannot Wait, describes the diplomatic steps – such as consensus-building and accountability - needed to transform political commitments into actions that provide girls safety and protection, fulfillment of their rights, access to schools, and opportunities to reach their full potential.

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Leave No Girl Behind

Leave No Girl Behind

Government actors are critical in building momentum for and influencing action on girls’ access to quality education around the world through focused Education Diplomacy efforts. Joanna Roper, the Special Envoy for Gender Equality of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), leads the UK foreign policy agenda that shapes programs consciously designed to deliver greater opportunities for women and girls.

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