Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.(Reuters file)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.(Reuters file)

UK PM appoints new special envoy for girls' education

UK PM appoints new special envoy for girls' education
PTI, London
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 09:40 AM IST

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced the appointment of a new special envoy for girls' education, underlining that empowering women and girls through education will be the UK's key focus as part of its G7 presidency this year.

Helen Grant, member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald and women’s rights campaigner, will take on the new role to champion the UK’s “global expertise” on education and secure backing for ambitious initiatives to get 40 million more girls in primary and secondary school in developing countries by 2025.

“It is my fervent belief that educating girls is the simplest and most transformative thing we can do to lift communities out of poverty, end the scourge of gender-based violence and build back better from the pandemic. It can change the fortunes of not just individual women and girls, but communities and nations,” said Johnson.

“That’s why I am delighted to appoint Helen Grant as my Special Envoy on Girls’ Education today to drive forward the UK’s vital work in this area,” he said.

The G7 or Group of Seven, is an intergovernmental collective of democracies made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the next summit scheduled to take place in the UK in June.

Earlier, Johnson had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the summit with India as one of three guest nations, alongside South Korea and Australia.

As part of a focus on girls’ education, the UK is also set to co-host the Global Partnership for Education summit with Kenya later this year, bringing governments, business and civil society together to channel investment and action into getting children around the world into school and learning.

“Ensuring all girls get 12 years of quality education is rightly a priority for the government. High quality female education empowers women, reduces poverty and unleashes economic growth,” said Helen Grant, in reference to her new role which she begins alongside her existing role as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria.

“I will be making it my mission to encourage a more ambitious approach to girls’ education from the international community as we seek to build back better from the Covid crisis,” she said.

According to official information collated by Downing Street, the benefits of educating girls are enormous – a child whose mother can read is 50 per cent more likely to live past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school themselves. With just one additional school year, a woman’s earnings can increase by up to a fifth.

It noted that since 2015, the UK has supported 15.6 million children, including over 8 million girls, to get a decent education.

In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, for example, the UK says its Girls Education Challenge has helped over 260,000 girls from poor communities to stay in secondary school with learning, mentoring and skills training and financial support to buy uniforms and stationery.

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