Human Rights Day and Girls' Education

Today on December 10th, we celebrate  Human Rights Day for the 65th consecutive year.  Human Rights Day was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.  This day was created to bring attention to the peoples of the world and to also create a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations.  Throughout the years, many human rights topics have taken the forefront, from civil rights to social and political justice.  Unfortunately, the issue that has not made much progress throughout the years has been Girls Education and closing the gender gap.  However, during the last several years, girls’ right to an education has taken center stage. 

Last year, the United Nations launched the “Stand with Malala” campaign to commemorate Human Rights Day.  Its mission was to honor Malala Yousafzai and the millions of girls like her who are denied the right to an education.  They strive to accelerate political action to ensure every girls’ right to education.  Many foundations and organizations are creating programs and campaigns to accelerate this initiative.  The President of IFUW (International Education of University Women), Catherine Bell, stressed that, "the human right to education must extend beyond the provision of basic literacy and numeracy skills developed at a primary level. To ensure continued progress in knowledge dissemination and innovation, and to bridge both gender and poverty gaps, states must recognize the lifelong nature of learning for girls and women, which critically includes secondary, tertiary, continuing and non-traditional education."

Another strong organization, the Global Campaign for Education puts emphasis on the other Human Rights issues that will be alleviated in response to girls’ education, “The right to quality education is also fundamental to the realization of other rights and development objectives, including gender equality, health, nutrition, peace, the strengthening of democracy and environmental sustainability.”  The education of girls not only benefits the community but ultimately society at large.  By not granting girls this basic right we are stalling advancements worldwide.

And while many of these international organizations are doing excellent work and making progress while pushing the need for equality in girls’ education, there are still many countries that do not stand by the ideal that education should be a basic right for all.  A study released by the UN Human Rights Office reports attacks on girls’ education.  The study states, “According to the United Nation’s data, an estimated 3,600 separate attacks against educational institutions, teachers, and students were recorded in 2012 alone. In addition, attacks on schools have taken place in at least 70 different countries between 2009 and 2014. Many of these attacks were aimed at girls, parents and teachers for advocating gender equality through education.”  As progress is made, there are groups of people that refuse to support this progression.

On this year’s Human Rights Day, it is important for Girls Education to remain in Center Stage.  We need to eliminate notions that girls’ education is not important, and also urge more people to join the movement for gender equality in education. We hope that 2016 sheds more light on the crisis that affects so many millions worldwide. 

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