Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank UNGEI and the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa for organising this important side-event on improving educational outcomes for girls and women on the move.
I have been asked to talk about the role of donors in ensuring that no girl is left behind.
Let me start by elaborating a little on the concept of leaving no one behind. This is a topic that is of particular concern to me, and to the Norwegian Government as a whole.
In our new political platform, we have therefore announced increased support for the most marginalised and vulnerable groups. If we are to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, it is vital that we succeed in our aim of leaving no one behind. Leaving no one behind is also crucial if we are to uphold a fundamental principle of human rights, namely, that all human beings are of equal value.
When it comes to education, we are currently way off track. The Global Partnership for Education estimates that 90% of children with disabilities in low-income and lower-middle-income countries do not go to school. In other words, millions of children are being left behind.
Let me return to today’s topic; education for girls and women on the move. We know that it is because of crises and conflicts that a substantial number of the 262 million out-of-school children are unable to get an education. This includes refugees and internally displaced children.
Girls and women are disproportionately affected by crises and displacement. We know, for example, that girls living in conflict-affected countries are two and a half times less likely to attend primary school than girls living in countries not affected by conflict.
I believe donors and the international community can make a difference and help to ensure that all children, including girls, can get an education. Let me first give you some examples of what Norway is doing in this area.
We have made education a top priority in our development assistance. Education in emergencies and girls’ education are specific priorities identified by the Government.
Norway almost doubled its aid for education in the period 2013 to 2017. This includes significant amounts in support of access to education in emergencies and protracted crises.
Together with several partners, Norway also took an initiative to increase support to education in crisis and conflict. This resulted in the launch of the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) global fund. Let me also add that the nexus between humanitarian efforts and long term development assistance is a topic of great concern to us.
Learners must also feel safe at school. This includes giving them protection from all forms of violence, including gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Schools and universities should be safe havens, but too often we see that they instead become the targets of attacks.
Norway and Argentina led the consultations that resulted in the Safe Schools Declaration, launched in May 2015. The main aim of the Declaration is to prevent attacks on schools and universities and protect these institutions from military use.
Eighty-four states have endorsed the Declaration so far. We urge all those who have not yet endorsed it to do so.
Girls who have attended school live healthier and more prosperous lives. When they grow up, they are better able to take care of their families. And they have greater political and economic power in their communities and societies.
Last year, the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration were adopted. We are pleased to see that many countries have made a commitment to include displaced populations and vulnerable migrants in their national education systems.
This brings me to my final point: while donors can play an important role, it is also crucial that education is made a national priority and is given financing by the governments of the countries concerned.
The challenge we face is huge. Our common goal is to make sure that all children and young people are in school and learning relevant skills by 2030. Norway is committed to doing its utmost to ensure that we together achieve this goal.