The role of diplomacy in mobilising support for girls’ education

Photo: Laura Pannack/Oxfam

Words by Kamilia Amdouni, Musa Bwanali, Lindsay Bownik and Alexandra MacAulay Abdelwahab, students in the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls form part of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Educating girls helps with both. Yet, according to UNESCO, 130 million girls between the age of six and 17 are out of school and 15 million primary school-aged girls will never have access to education.

Girls education is a human right, which not only benefits girls themselves, but positively impacts wider community well-being and economic prosperity at local, regional and national levels. It is fundamentally linked to the success of multiple SDGs, including gender equality (SDG 5), quality education (SDG 4), ending poverty (SDG 1), reduced inequality (SDG 10), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), and good health and wellbeing (SDG 3). International engagement and cooperation will be crucial to making quality education a reality for girls worldwide. We must draw on lessons learned from international collaboration to advance other core issues of the SDGs.

The UK government is working at many levels to sustain international momentum on this issue and to this end, Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in partnership with the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at SOAS University of London, will host a roundtable from the 4th to 6th July to explore the role of diplomacy and transnational campaigns to improve education around the world. Wilton Park has a history of more than 70 years forging gatherings to enable strategic discussions on global issues and priorities.

The conference will focus on building momentum to improve girls education, including for the most marginalised. It aims to make recommendations for a transnational collaborative campaign to support 12 years of quality education for every girl. The conference will highlight international successes in improving girls education, as well as identify gaps and recommend actions to address them.  This will be a platform to develop lasting partnerships between varying sectors and agencies to collaborate in successfully delivering campaigns leading to improvements for girls’ education.

In the spirit of involving the student voice and the co-creation of knowledge, four post-graduate students from the CISD are participating in the conference as rapporteurs. They will therefore contribute to the gathering’s published policy outputs. Kamilia Amdouni, Musa Bwanali, Lindsay Bownik and Alexandra MacAulay Abdelwahab will represent SOAS, University of London at this unique event, interacting with practitioners and representatives of the various organisations engaged in the campaigns for quality education for girls.

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