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Women and girls like these should be empowered

African governments pledge more action for women and girls education during Global Action Week Millions of campaigners across the world pushed for more commitment towards the education of women and girls during the 2011 Global Action Week (GWA) that took place from 2 to 8 May 2011.

The GWA events coincided with the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. According to global reports millions of women fail to go to school due to a number of reasons including cultural practices, discrimination, gender based violence and poor investment in education. During the GWA, campaigners mobilized political commitment to address the women’s right to education. The following are excerpts from GWA reports compiled by Global Campaign secretariat.

Angola

Angolan education minister, Pinda Simão, said during the week in Luanda that his Government would continue to work to guarantee the universalisation of quality primary education for children aged between zero and 18 years. He was speaking at the launch of GAW where he also announced that the Government approved the national strategy for promotion and development of women, with the participation of all sectors in actions towards the implementation of the strategy.

DRC

GAW was officially launched in Kinshasa by the Minister of Primary and secondary education at an event attended by the Minister of Gender, Family and Children and various civil society organizations. The Big Story activities will be held in school starting May 3 and there will be a TV show on May 4th-2011: TV show on the theme. There will also be activities around the parliament building at the end of GAW.

Kenya

The Offical GAW song; "Simama Mtoto wa Kike" (Stand up Girl Child) was launched today along with a music video to accompany it. The video has been developed following a series of campaigns under Stop Violence Against Girls in Schools Banner. The song calls on girls to stand up and take their position in society. This event will be supported by Girl Child Network and Action Aid Kenya. A national public forum; the Big Story Event in will take place in Nairobi on 6th May. At the forum, key leading figures in education and politics in the country will be present share inspirational stories. The Chief Guest is a renown Professor of Education and nutritionist, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o. Other guests include the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Services. Beyond the stories, highlights from two studies on Gender and Education; ’Gender, Education & Global Poverty Reduction Initiatives Report by Catholic University of East Africa’ and ‘The Status of Girls’ Education and Violence in Tana River, Kenyawill be shared with the participants.

Niger

As a prelude to the launch of GAW, the Executive Committee of the Coalition ASO Niger EFA had a 45 minute audience with the Minister of National Education in which the Coalition presented the minister with planned activities and demands for this year. The Minister has pledged to mobilize the highest political authorities for their involvement in this campaign. She also pledged to submit GAW demands to the President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou. Activities include an official launch at the national stadium, storytelling, regional debates and a round table discussion on the Establishment of a National Fund for Education.

Sierra Leone

Civil society coalitions, Education for All Sierra Leone Chapter (EFASL) on Monday, 2nd May commenced Global Action Week with the theme: “educate women and girls”. Addressing a press briefing on Monday, Joseph Cobinah said that from the 2nd to the 8th May, “millions of education advocates, school children, parents and young people, education stakeholders and people from all walks of life across the globe, will celebrate the Global Action Week with the monumental task of being the voice for the voiceless by increasing the tempo of our demands from government”. He added that “while we understand it is the duty of government to ensure that everyone has an education, it is our duty to keep reminding government not only of their commitment but also their obligations”.

Somaliland

Campaign activities started in schools in Hargeisa. During the week campaigners took to the main square where there marched past with a band. The coalition invited several guests, including female role models, celebrities, ministers of Education and children. Activities were broadcast by national TV and covered in local news papers.

Burkina Faso

The government announced in Burkina Faso that it would increase the education budget by at least 3 percent and scrap school fees that prevent children especially girls from accessing an education. This announcement was made by Minister of National Education and literacy at a gathering attended by about 3,000 people. Ms. Boly Bary Koumba committed at the launch of GAW where she also announced her government would reduce the enrolment gap between boys and girls to at least 3 percent in primary and 2 percent in secondary school. She was speaking at the Big Story event in the capital Ouagadougou. The government will also open 300 literacy centers for women.

Ethiopia

The coalition, Basic Education network (BEN), coordinated seven regional campaigns and a big national event in the month of May. Celebrations included National Awards given to the winners of the regional story telling competitions. Ministers, Members of Parliament and local Ethiopian celebrities took part I the national event. In Ethiopia, BEN-Ethiopia works with various organizations such as the Ministry of Education Departments (Equity and Inclusive Education, and Gender Departments), INGOs (UNESCO, PACT Ethiopia, Concern Ethiopia, Plan Ethiopia, ActionAid Ethiopia, VSO Ethiopia and Oxfam Canada), and FAWE.

The Gambia

A highlight event was launched at the National Assembly where all the Parliamentarians graced the occasion. Key speakers included the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Honorable Minister for Education who made commitment towards improving education of girls and women.

Ghana

GNECC and partners launched the Global Action Week on Thursday, 29th April 2011 in Accra with calls to allow pregnant girls and teenage nursing mothers to school, promoting safer schools for girls and increasing the budget for functional adult and women’s literacy to 3 per cent of the education sector budget. The press launch has received wide media coverage. A 10 minute documentary titled ’ Educating to unlock potentials ’ which provides the experiences of women and girls in accessing and participating in education in Ghana has been produced. Documentary will be aired on key media networks in Ghana. The Big Story on 5th May brought together policy makers from the ministries and government agencies, civil society groups including women’s groups, students (girls and boys), teachers union and the media to have discussions around the documentary. In attendance were deputy minister of education and chairman of the parliamentary select committees on education & gender, representatives from the ministry of women and children affairs. Signatures of supporters of girls and women education are being collected.

Sudan

GAW was launched on April 30 . On 5th May, there was a press conference organized by the Sudanese Network for Education. In keeping with this year’s theme, the network has formed a taskforce to follow up the implementation of activities, decisions and recommendations during the GAW. The launch was attended by various organizations including representatives from the media.

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