For children, especially girls, around the world caught in conflict and disaster, education is a lifeline. Millions of children in crisis and fragile contexts are denied a quality, gender-responsive, safe education that will enable them to thrive into the future. Education is also a key aspect of discussions about the humanitarian-development nexus, as these children and young people are denied the chance to build the social-emotional and academic skills they need to survive.
The report from Equal Measures 2030: Leveraging data and partnerships with women’s rights organisations to strengthen girls’ education in emergencies, details experience, findings, and recommendations for a world that is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and with most of our education systems into disarray.
“Access to national statistics is essential to enabling effective advocacy to address education or other needs at local levels,” said Nadia Ahidjo, Programme Manager at Equal Measures 2030. “Local Women’s Rights Organisations, who understand the critical role of data collection from the grassroots and access to national databases both in developing their services and in conducting effective advocacy, are too often absent from national discussions.”
Jessica Oddy of Equity-Based EiE Consulting agreed: “People with the greatest connection to these issues are often the furthest from decision-making. Addressing this power dynamic would go a long way to improving outcomes for women and girls.”
The importance of ensuring that local actors are equal partners in data collection, data analysis, decision-making and implementation was emphasized by speakers from local, national, regional and global levels alike, all of whom recognize its value.
“At Global Affairs Canada, we were impressed with the flexibility and effectiveness of our women’s rights organisation partners in responding to COVID-19 challenges,” said GAC Education Director Kathleen Flynn-Dapaah, while Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030, noted: “We sometimes ask our partners if policymakers are surprised by the data shown to them – The answer is often yes, even when that data comes from the government itself.”
The new report re-affirms a commitment to recognizing and reinforcing the role of Women’s Rights Organisations in data production and use in emergencies, in particular for the education of girls. When decisions are informed by knowledge of grassroots women and girls, who understand the real barriers and challenges they are facing, not only will power in the EiE ecosystem begin to shift, but more responsive, tailored, and effective solutions will result. “Today we heard about diverse, valuable work that women rights organisations are contributing to this field, but also health, peacebuilding, climate, inclusion – our discussion today links with all of these topics,” concluded Petra Heusser, coordinator of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies. “We must continue to push our partners working in other sectors to understand importance of integrating gender and education into all plans and responses to emergencies.”