GENDER EQUALITY MUST BE A PRIORITY FOR G7 LEADERS
Are G7 leaders interested in gender equality?
This year the answer could be yes. Prime Minister Trudeau has placed gender issues on the summit agenda. That means that leaders of some of the world’s most powerful nations will discuss issues while considering the impact of their decisions on girls and women around the world.
I hope they’ll also recognize that 130 million out-of-school girls in developing countries have a measurable impact on G7 countries’ economies, prospects for peace, public health and so much more.
Girls’ education grows economies. Millions more
educated girls means more working women with the potential to add up to $12 trillion (U.S.) to global growth.
On the other hand, we are facing a global skills crisis. By 2020, the world could have 40 million job vacancies, but not enough educated workers to fill them. Without substantial new investments in secondary education, many countries will face a surplus of low-skilled workers and a shortage of professionals, leading to high unemployment and major
gaps in the labour market.
Sending all girls to school for 12 years reduces conflict and fosters stability throughout countries and regions. Populations with a secondary education are three times more likely to support democracy than people with no education. And education is critical to security around the world because extremism grows alongside inequality — in places where people feel they have no opportunity, no voice, no hope.
When they invest in girls’ education, countries can also improve public health, mitigate the effects of climate change and recover faster from natural disasters.
So, with rates of return this high, why are 130 million girls still out of school? When we know refugee children are future leaders on whom we will all depend for peace, why are 75 per cent of them unable to access secondary education?
For far too long, G7 leaders have overlooked girls — a critical solution to many of the problems they try to solve at summit after summit. This year, this G7 must begin to reverse that trend.
As a member of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Gender Equality Advisory Council, I offer no apologies when I say I joined this group to encourage G7 leaders to prioritize girls’ education.
In our recommendations, my fellow council members and I call on leaders to “provide policy and funding support to developing and conflict-affected countries to improve access to a minimum of 12 years of free, safe, quality genderresponsive education.” I can think of no greater legacy for Canada’s G7 Summit than this.
SO, WITH RATES OF RETURN THIS HIGH, WHY ARE 130 MILLION GIRLS STILL OUT OF SCHOOL?
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, centre right, speaks with school girls in Maiduguri Nigeria in 2017. Yousafzai is asking the G7 leaders to give at least $1.3 billion (U.S.) over the next three years to get more girls in school.