Education Cannot Wait’s #ShareTheirVoices Global Advocacy Campaign Launched by ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif in Lead Up to United Nations Summit of the Future

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Every Crisis-Affected Girl and Boy has the Right to Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education

In the lead up to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Summit of the Future, taking place on 22-23 September 2024, Education Cannot Wait is supporting the global #ActNow Campaign with an urgent call to increase funding for the +226 million crisis-impacted children worldwide urgently in need of an education through ECW’s global #ShareTheirVoices campaign.  

According to the United Nations, without additional resources, 84 million children and youth will be out of school by 2030, 300 million will lack basic numeracy and literacy skills, and only one out of six nations worldwide will achieve our promise of universal secondary education. Low- and lower-middle income countries face a US$100 billion annual financing gap to reach their education targets.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), as the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises within the United Nations, has mobilized US$900 million towards its US$1.5 billion funding target required to deliver on our 2023-2026 Strategic Plan. ECW urgently appeals to donors for US$600 million to close the funding gap so we can reach 20 million crisis-affected children and adolescents with the safety, hope and opportunity of quality education.

ECW’s #ShareTheirVoices campaign brings together the words of crisis-affected girls and boys from places like AfghanistanDemocratic Republic of the CongoGazaNorth-East NigeriaSudanHaitiCox’s BazaarSouth SudanSyria and Ukraine, where the converging challenges of armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change and other protracted crises are derailing development gains and putting girls' and boys' lives at grave risk.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls and women are officially, and unacceptably, banned from secondary and tertiary education. One Afghan girl says, “I may have been denied the right to learn, but my hunger for knowledge will not be extinguished. I will find a way to educate myself and inspire others to do the same." Afghans girls deserve no less than an equal opportunity to develop their potential, thrive and pursue their dreams. We must continue to share their voices.
In Gaza, the education system has collapsed. Innocent children are bearing the brutal brunt of a catastrophic humanitarian situation unfolding before our eyes. Since early October, 625,000 children enrolled in schools across Gaza have had no access to education, and approximately 86% of school buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Despite the destruction and devastation that surrounds them, children are still grasping on to the hope of a brighter future where they can live and learn in peace and protection. A school-aged girl in Gaza says, "I love school, I don't like war at all. I miss my teacher very much. I miss my friends, and I miss playing with them."
From within the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazaar, located in Bangladesh, 11-year-old Zawad, a Rohingya refugee, says, “Educated people have the knowledge to define right and wrong, which will help them lead a better life. I ask world leaders to provide more support for education.”
The deadly armed conflict in Ukraine continues to rage on with millions of girls and boys heavily affected – suffering trauma, shelling, displacement, injury and death. School is an important place for 16-year-old Anastasia but the piercing siren signaling possible rocket attacks is all-too familiar. "When we go to the shelter, it's harder to sit in class. It's hard to hear, it's hot and it's harder to memorize information – but I feel safe at school,” says Anastasia, who dreams of one day becoming a doctor.
Aisha, 13, is in a wheelchair, and was denied education for most of her life as a result of her disability and ongoing conflict and insecurity in North-East Nigeria. “Before I came to this school, I was not doing anything – no education at all. Now, I am able to learn and, when I grow up, I want to become a teacher so I can teach other kids,” says Aisha. She is just one of 20 million children out of school in Nigeria.
If we don’t #ShareTheirVoices, if we don’t act, what chance do these crisis-affected – yet full of potential and hope – children have? And what hope does humanity have if a quarter of a billion children and adolescents never access a school and only experience brutal violence and trauma? For Aisha, Anastasia, and millions of other girls and boys caught in crises across the world, education is not just life-changing, it is also lifesaving.
We must #ShareTheirVoices as we come together as a global community to #ActNow for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for universal human rights. We know that quality education is an essential support in delivering on all of the other SDGs, from ending famine, starvation and extreme poverty, to gender equality and addressing the climate crisis.
Education Cannot Wait for any crisis-affected child – no matter who or where they are. Let's #ShareTheirVoices and #ActNow: every girl and boy has the right to the safety, hope and opportunity of a quality education.
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About our Director

ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif
Yasmine Sherif

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