Today, we’re confronted with too much bad news, too many negative stories about hurtful, harmful things going on in the world. It seems that’s all we ever hear.
2015 is the end date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were first established in the year 2000. Over a period of 15 years, the world community made a commitment to eight goals, which included eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
When 60 million girls was established as a foundation in 2006, we took our name from the statistic at the time: over 110 million children, of primary school age, were not in school – every single year – and, of those children, two-thirds or 60 million were girls.
Where are we today?
The good news: The number of primary school-aged children who don’t attend school has gone from 110 million to 58 million since 2006. The number of out-of-school girls has dropped from 60 million to 32 million.
The great news: The drive to get girls into school has helped in the struggle to reach other MDG goals such as reducing poverty and decreasing maternal and infant mortality.
Educating girls is one of the most positive social forces to create change in a community. Statistics and research show it and we see it through our projects.
But simply attending primary school is not enough: children have to learn. Parents make enormous sacrifices to get their kids into school. They need to know that their children, girls and boys, will receive a quality education, so that their sacrifice will help their children lead better lives. This is why our R&D team is actively looking into the latest and most innovative practices in education around the world. Our self-directed computer-based learning pilot projects in Sierra Leone were a first practical trial for gauging the potential impact of technology in education. We know there is so much more we can do!
With your help, over the past eight years, we have invested $1.9 million in 17 projects in 13 countries, including our two projects this year – $100,000 to Care Canada for a project in Afghanistan and the second half of our two-year commitment of $300,000 to Free The Children for an all girls’ high school in Kenya. Since the beginning, we have maintained administration costs of less than 1%.
Together, we will continue to work towards discovering more effective and innovative approaches that will help lower the number of out-of-school children around the world and increase learning – the ultimate goal of education.
We are part of a global network of activists making positive change – that’s good news for the whole world!
President, 60 million girls Foundation
By Lesley Stewart
Our 9th annual conference was another unqualified success! Approximately 200 guests listened to our two keynote speakers, Bev Carrick of CAUSE Canada, and Sheena Bell, of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
Bev spoke about her organization’s efforts to improve access to education in Sierra Leone and the need for trained teachers to provide quality education. With the Ebola epidemic, all schools have been closed in Sierra Leone. However, our self-directed pilot project has allowed children to continue their education, using educational software provided by 60 million girls.
The UIS, the statistical branch of UNESCO, is in the business of gathering reliable and policy-relevant data on education, science and technology from every country in the world. Sheena explained the importance of this data in allowing organizations – governmental and non-governmental – to better construct appropriate programs for children. Both Bev and Sheena discussed the importance of using data and technology to improve literacy and provide vulnerable children with access to a quality education.
The silent auction amassed $10,925, which will help support our projects this year! At the end of the evening, Wanda presented a cheque of $280,000 to our partner in Kenya, Free The Children, and another of $80,000 to CARE Canada, our partner in Afghanistan.
Our thanks to our many friends and supporters who made the evening such a success!
By Paula Gallagher
On Sunday, November 9th, the Vancouver chapter of 60 million girls Foundation hosted a group of 75 guests at Hycroft, the lovely heritage home of the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, to hear Stephanie Nolen, the acclaimed journalist, writer, activist and humanitarian.
The stark reality is that, if they are not in school, then they are likely working, or married, and often without any options for their future. They would not have the pleasure of learning, the happiness of small successes or the possibility of learning an unlikely subject (for Dalit girls) such as self-defence. They would not experience the first exquisite taste of ice cream, or the enduring anticipation of comradeship and play.
Education for girls goes beyond the interpretation of statistics to the core of what makes life exceptional. All in the room were moved by Ms Nolen’s stories and pictures!
For many of the guests, this event was also an introduction to 60 million girls Foundation. We had many questions, many very positive remarks, and many people looking forward to the next event. Altogether, the afternoon was a great success!
By Manuela Clément-Frencia
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hosted our exhibition, 60 million girls: Education for a more just and balanced world, for one month. This exhibition reaffirmed education as a fundamental right for children and enabled the voices of some of the most vulnerable girls in the world to be heard.
This awareness-raising event was widely covered by the media and was well received by visitors to the exhibition. We conducted a series of interviews and found that people were very favourably impressed by the Foundation’s mission, as well as by the artistic and educational quality of the exhibition. In particular, visitors appreciated the beautiful photographs and were touched by the stories of the young girls. Our call to action elicited over 200 ideas to support education. We would like to extend our deepest thanks to all those who made this project possible. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts generously offered a prestigious space in which to showcase our work. We also would like to thank our project partners, Free The Children, World University Service of Canada/Windle Trust Kenya and Right To Play – the organizations that allowed us to meet the girls, their families and community members in the projects that we financed with your support. Finally, and most importantly, we would like to thank the girls who agreed to share their stories with both the Museum visitors and ourselves.
It should be noted that the photo-reportage was completed by Dominique and Maria Cabrelli, Arvind Eyunni, Jean-François Lemire and myself.
Strengthened by this unique experience, we will continue our commitment to support girls’ education, echoing the impassioned plea of Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, in her speech to the UN on July 12, 2013: “I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.”