Investing in Girls for MDG Acceleration

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With roughly 700 days left until the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, the Secretary-General, along with the two co-chairs and several members of his MDG Advocacy Group, will participate in a moderated luncheon discussion to accelerate progress on the MDGs focusing on girls as a critical investment.  The Secretary-General and the two co-Chairs, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Prime Minster Erna Solberg of Norway, will open the programme and Hannah Godefa, a 16-year old UNICEF National Ambassador for Ethiopia and Sumaya Saluja, a member of the Global Education First Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group, will lead an inter-generational dialogue with the Advocates. The programme will include interventions from other governments, businesses and media leaders, including Tina Brown.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on his recent influencer piece on LInkedIN said “Today, there are 57 million children out of school – and most of them are girls. While disturbing, this represents a huge opportunity – because we know, from indisputable experience, the benefits of investing in girls. And there is no more valuable investment than in a girl’s education.”

The growing momentum around girls as catalysts for development is undeniable. Malala Yousafzai, whose voice resonated around the world as a champion for girls’ education, has helped advance the importance of addressing this often overlooked issue in philanthropic and core business strategies.

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Hannah Godefa, UNICEF Ethiopia National Goodwill Ambassador, will participate at the World Economic Forum event focusing on girls education. Hannah impressed  many when she made a speech at the highly successful International Day of the Girl Child at UNICEF Head Quarters in October last year on “Innovating for Girls’ Education” and when she moderated the event where Katy Perry was named UNICEF’s newest Goodwill Ambassador. Read biography of Hannah Godefa.

Investing in Girls’ Empowerment for MDG Acceleration session at the World Economic Forum will highlight specific approaches that enable girls and women worldwide to learn, earn, thrive, and control their own destinies. The focus will be on replicating and scaling-up successful quality programmes, promoting innovative approaches including quick adoption of broadband and ICTs for education and health, and encouraging collaboration to ensure the best outcomes for girls and their communities.

Event Details:
Investing in Girls for MDG Acceleration
Luncheon with the SG and MDG Advocates hosted by the UN Foundation
Thursday, 23 January 2014, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Salon Atlantis, Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvedere, Promenade 89,
Davos, Switzerland

More on event website

Watch the MDG Advocates event live on 23 January (coming soon)

Follow Tweets about “#investingirls” or @UNICEFEthiopia

The story of a girl activist – Ethiopia

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When I was seven years old, I visited my parents’ rural hometown of Axum, and was staying with my grandmother. There was a young girl around my age there, and I became very good friends with her. Before I left, I wanted to keep in touch with her as a pen pal, but my parents explained to me that she did not have the pencils or materials to do so.

I knew in that moment that advocating for girls like me to have equal opportunities in education would be an important part of my life. I created a resource mobilisation project called Pencil Mountain that has delivered over half a million school resources to Ethiopian children.

Girls living in rural areas of Ethiopia are treated as an asset. A family values a girl for her ability to work. Girls do not have equal access to education with boys. There is a great disparity in literacy and if a parent has an opportunity to choose between sending a boy or girl to school, it is almost always the boy that is chosen.

The most difficult challenge I’ve faced is promoting this idea to rural communities where it a conflict of interest for community leaders. Tradition dictates that young girls at my age should be married, or stay home and support the family. It is not always easy to break through this mentality. However, the leadership in Ethiopia, and several NGOs have committed themselves to changing this longstanding mindset.

Biggest challenge: It’s been hard to balance my school and my advocacy work. I have learned to put my own education first, so that I can create a bigger impact later on. I strongly believe that every action for change, no matter how small, counts.

Proudest moment: I met Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper and the Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. They are in a great position to implement change in educational rights.

My greatest achievement was being named Unicef goodwill ambassador for Ethiopia, because I have had an opportunity to bring a girl’s voice to an international level and raise awareness about education issues. Read Full story on The Guardian

Read more about Hannah Godefa