The United State of Women Summit resulted in over $20 million in new commitments to Let Girls Learn. Credit: Executive Office of the President of the United States (Public Domain)Over the past year, there have been a few significant “firsts” happening in the global development space. Last month, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul, Turkey and just this week, the first-ever United State of Women Summit took place at the White House in Washington, D.C.
IP’s Kiersten Marek hit all of the highlights of the summit here, including significant commitments made by local women’s groups as well as international NGOs in support of women and girls in the United States and abroad. Here, I want to take a closer look at the major global aspects of that $50 million public-private pledge to bolster female-centered efforts around the globe.
New Global Strategies
The U.S. Department of State is mounting new global strategies with four major women’s economic empowerment policy objectives: equal access to resources and services, promoting entrepreneurship, equal access to decent jobs (though what is considered “decent” isn’t defined here), and addressing the principal barriers that impede women’s abilities to fully participate in the economy.
The White House is also launching a new game plan, here, which will focus largely on “advancing human rights and promoting gender equality worldwide.”
Both strategies have a strong focus on the prevention of gender-based violence. The White House press release stated:
The updated U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, jointly led by USAID and the State Department, reflects our growing understanding of gender-based violence, including historic provisions for vulnerable populations, such as lesbian and transgender women.
Finally, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security was updated and will continue to focus on increasing women’s participation in peacebuilding, preventing sexual violence in conflict, empowering women for violence prevention, and advocating for women and girls equal access to “relief and recovery resources.”
The summit resulted in over $20 million in new commitments to Let Girls Learn. The initiative was launched in 2015 to help adolescent girls living in countries impacted by conflict and crisis to continue their education. Early funders include the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, Girl Rising, CARE, Global Partnership for Education, and Girl Scouts of the U.S. Other funders have also shown their support of the initiative including Salesforce.org, Johnson & Johnson ($50,000), Procter & Gamble ($100,000).
Here are a few highlights of organizations that recently gave big to Let Girls Learn:
CARE has committed $15 million in an effort to help three million adolescent girls continue their education through an intense nine-month program designed to help girls catch up on their work in order to complete primary school. The money will be divided among six countries: Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia and Malawi.
Oracle also committed an additional $3 million in funding over the next 12 months to help girls pursue education opportunities, mainly in STEM. Oracle has been a pretty big supporter of computer science education, announcing its plans to invest $200 million in computer science education in the U.S. over the next year or so. Globally, Oracle Academy has already serviced over 2.6 million students across more than 100 countries around the world pursue their educations in computer sciences.
Additional funders stepping up to the girls education plate during the summit include International Rescue Committee, which is committing $1 million to help adolescent girls in conflict-affected states in Africa and the Middle East, and the Hershey Company, which is committing $250,000 over three years to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund.
The road to gender equity and women and girls’ empowerment is a bumpy and winding one. Both governments and like-minded NGOs have worked triple overtime to shine a brighter light on not only the roadblocks to success faced by women around the world, but also how the world will benefit once those hurdles are removed. After all, who could reasonably argue that the world wouldn’t be a better place if women and girls were released from the chains of subjugation and repression that bind them?