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UNGEI and the 2010 Dakar Declaration

The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is a partnership of organizations committed to narrowing the gender gap in primary and secondary education. It also seeks to ensure that, by 2015, all children complete primary schooling, with girls and boys having equal access to free, quality education. UNGEI was launched in April 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, by then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in response to a troubling reality: of the millions of children worldwide who were not in school, more than half were girls. Read more

Since then, much progress has been achieved in terms of gender equality. More than 22 million girls have enrolled in primary school from 1999 to 2007, and gender gaps in primary school enrolments have narrowed in many countries.

Much as these results are inspirational, they do not fulfil the aspiration of full equality embodied in those targets. Nor do they fully satisfy the human rights agenda. For the millions of girls that are still being denied safe education of good quality or experiencing discrimination in and out of school, we have not yet done well enough.

The UNGEI Conference on gender equality and education held in Dakar in May 2010 reminds us that unless we put in place rights-based mechanisms that will transform power relations, inequalities and the dynamic inter-connections between poverty, violence and (poor quality of) education, those girls will never get a chance.

The road is still uphill, but the Dakar Declaration on Accelerating Girls’ Education and Gender Equality provides good pointers for direction. Read it here.