ONE Campaign, an international advocacy and campaigning organisation, has disclosed that 130 million girls are not in school globally.
In a statement on Monday, the group noted that because poverty is sexist, girls in the poorest countries are less likely to receive an education than boys.
“This means a generation of adolescent girls is being denied the education they need to get a job, broaden their opportunities, and break the cycle of poverty,” the group said in the statement.
“A girl with an education can change the world.”
Ahead of the International Women’s Day on March 8th, ONE Campaign said it had launched its #GirlsCount campaign, an initiative that has rallied citizens and leaders from around the world and in Nigeria to bring a spotlight on this crisis and demand action from global leaders to end this crisis.
In Nigeria, Omotola Jalaide Ekehinde is the main champion for the campaign which has been backed by the new UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, and Bring Back our Girls Co-founder, Oby Ezekwesili.
The #GirlsCount video which features citizens from every walk of life is aimed at getting people to join forces by filming themselves and counting a number between one and 130 million out loud, the group added.
Serah Makka, ONE Campaign’s Nigeria Director, said renewed efforts are urgently needed to improve girls’ education globally.
“It is a global crisis that 130 million girls are not in school and Nigeria is unfortunately contributing a significant share to this,” said Ms. Makka.
“Girls’ education spurs exponential positive effects on social and economic development for generations to come.
“Educating girls secures the future of Nigeria. #GirlsCount is uniting people to make the scale of this crisis clear and to call on leaders to act urgently.”
Ms. Makka appealed to people who want to help change the lives of millions of girls around the world to join the campaign by counting a number and posting the video or picture online.
ONE is launching the campaign ahead of International Women’s Day alongside ‘Why Educating Every Girl is Good for Everyone,’ a report that exposes how “educating a girl for a day costs less than a loaf of bread or a daily newspaper.”
The ONE Campaign is asking governments for a package of funding and reforms which will make education work for every girl by 2030; urging leaders to double the global funding for girls’ education by 2020.
International supporters who are joining the count in solidarity include Malala Yousafzai, Sheryl Sandberg, Angelique Kidjo, ONE founder Bono, David Oyelowo, and Asa.
ONE Campaign said it plans to combine the videos into the world’s longest ever film to urge world leaders to take the action needed to ensure every girl receives a quality education.
Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award-winning artist and activist said: “130 million girls are being denied an education. That’s 130 million of our sisters, our daughters and tomorrow’s leaders who are not in school, and it has to stop.”
“That’s why I am proud to lend my voice, alongside the ONE Campaign, to the urgent call on our governments in Africa and their partners around the world to act. To cut programs for girls’ education at this moment in time would undermine a whole generation.”
Nollywood Actress and GirlsCount Ambassador, Omotola Jalade Ekehinde, said girls should be given the tools to reach their full potential because they “have so much to offer.”
“Growing up in Nigeria, I was lucky to have access to quality education. Today, there are 130 million girls globally who have not had the same opportunities as I have and are denied the chance to go to school,” she said.
“These girls are kept out of the classroom, not by choice, but by poverty, discrimination, violence, early marriage and domestic responsibility. That’s why I am joining with the ONE Campaign to demand that our leaders address this injustice and support every girl’s right to learn by doubling the funding for education by 2020.
“To show that we stand behind our 130 million sisters, we are counting every single one. I’ve chosen to count the number 7, because education is power – and every girl should have the opportunity to be in control of her own destiny.”
Paris-based Nigerian multi-award winning musician, Asa, said she would always support initiatives that improve women’s conditions throughout the world.
“I am eager to use my voice for this edition of the ONE campaign: Poverty is Sexist, whose theme this year is particularly important to me,” said Asa.
“As a Nigerian, I am passionate that I would not cease fighting until my sisters benefit from an education equal to the one I received.
“Education, and specifically girls’ education, should not depend on the level of income of the country in which you live, but must be considered as an inalienable right for all. Hopefully, this world campaign will raise political leaders’ awareness.”