Leaders Promises Are More Than Words

Madge Thomas, Deputy Director, Global Policy & Advocacy, Global Citizen

Global Citizen’s education accountability report shows that your commitment to Education in Emergencies is working

Many wonder what happens after the bright lights fade on a Global Citizen event. With millions gathered around the world to participate- all eager for meaningful change- it’s easy to wonder if our efforts can really make a difference.

Where and when does the change we’ve heard promised actually occur?

Global Citizen has been running campaigns on global access to education since 2013 and holding leaders accountable for their promises and commitments to the world’s children that are made on our stage or platform.

In total, global citizens have taken over 1.6 million actions on education over the years, which have translated into 57 commitments and announcements resulting in $2.4 billion in funds committed and nearly 60 million lives impacted in real and lasting ways.

Through your actions and persistence, CEOs and Heads of State – the “big guys” – have heard global citizens’ voices. These are the moments when change happens.

Last year, we ran a series of actions in support of the Education Cannot Wait fund, both ahead of the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and- later in the year- targeting Denmark, and with the help of Rihanna, France and Canada.

Hopes and expectations were high when Rihanna tweeted at these busy world leaders to support Education Cannot Wait, and all three of these leaders committed funding at the Global Citizen festivals in both New York and Mumbai.

But how do we ensure they stay true to their word?

Accountability Matters

While the excitement surrounding these actions is palpable in the moment, it’s only right we keep asking ‘what happens next?’. What happens when the roar of the crowd fades- when we go back to our offices and heads of state & CEOs leave the stage?

It’s for this reason that Global Citizen has just released its first-ever education accountability report.

This report demonstrates our policy to follow up on all those who commit on-stage and looks at what happens after the festival. The results are in, and they prove the true power of Global Citizens’ coming together and holding world leaders to their promises.

This report shows the progress made against on-stage commitments, alongside evidence supporting announcements on education trends and future promises. It also consolidates the actions and commitments global citizens have taken in support of focused funds and mechanisms such as Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The 243,655 actions of global citizens have already produced real, life-changing results that show just how important these on-stage commitments are:

  • 15 new and reaffirmed commitments to Education Cannot Wait and education in emergencies since 2012- 12 of these are on track
  • 9 pledges worth $113.7 million to Education Cannot Wait
  • 7 have already been actualized resulting in $72.8 million deposited to ECW
  • $100 million more committed from the Global Business Coalition for Education in “financial and relevant in-kind donations.”

Making Progress

There are a few main reasons to why we have had so much success with creating and tracking the progress of these commitments: First, our hardworking partners on the ground, and secondly- the passionate people who have called more citizens to action.

Muzoon Almellehan- a Syrian refugee and UNICEF’s youngest Goodwill Ambassador- spoke onstage at GC’s festival in Hamburg this year to a wrapt audience.

She spoke about how, in a world of escalating crises and extremism, the Education Cannot Wait fund is crucial to support young people and ensure they are equipped with the learning they need to build a brighter future. This incredible young woman carried the voices of Global Citizens everywhere to heads of state, CEOs, and powerful people around the world, calling out the need to immediately pledge support for education in emergencies.

“We are louder together. Let’s continue this work until every child, everywhere can go to school.”  Muzoon Almellehan

Advocacy by Muzoon, Salma Hayek and Queen Rania has helped to show the importance and impact that education can have not only on communities, countries and economies, but also on individuals trying to make a better life for their families anywhere.

This level of accountability and advocacy is also critical for keeping countries on track and motivated, encouraging them to make good on promises made to the world’s conflict and crises-affected children.

At the Global Partnership for Education’s High Level Reception before the festival in Hamburg, Muzoon also spoke to the impact that education has had on her life as a refugee. She acknowledged its central role in giving her the “strength to face challenges and acknowledge…my future.”

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the board of the Global Partnership for Education, responded with a recognition of the need to fund Education Cannot Wait and a call to action. “Muzoon, your courage gives us strength and renews our determination to make a difference. I’m glad that the world will step forward and say we do need Education Cannot Wait to make a real difference for children, like the Syrian children’.

Later during the festival, Demi Lovato and Muzoon appeared together onstage to reiterate the importance of funding Education Cannot Wait and the genuine impact it is having on children in emergencies. “When I was forced to flee my home, education gave me hope to move forward…,” the 19 year old Syrian refugee and activist stated.

The Road Ahead

There is nothing more powerful than hope. And the international community currently has the ability and the power to provide it. Now is the time to speak up and stand up for the right to education for all, especially those in emergencies.

It may seem like the “big guys” on stage are the ones with the power to make change, but in reality, they are listening to you. Now is the time to stand together and tell the Heads of State, CEOs, and all of the other “big guys” that it is time to take responsibility for your promises.

Together, we can work to make sure those same promises are kept, long after each event.



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