Recent UNESCO data highlights that the global number of out-of-school children has climbed dramatically by 6 million since 2021 and now equals 250 million in 2023, especially as a result of global crises. Most countries are not on track to meet their U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education) targets by 2030. By prioritizing girls’ education, the international community can reverse these trends. When girls and women thrive, so do their communities. When girls and women are empowered through education and skill-building, entire nations benefit. A 2018 World Bank report noted, “limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.” The Borgen Project reached out to Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director at the Global Campaign for Education – US, and Kate Mallory, Student Fellow with the Global Campaign for Education – US, to provide insight into the organization’s advocacy and coalition building to ensure quality education for all, with a special focus on historically marginalized groups, including girls and children with disabilities.
When was the organization founded and what does it aim to achieve?
The Global Campaign for Education – US (GCE-US) was founded in 2003. Our mission is to promote education as a basic human right and mobilize to create political will in the United States and internationally to ensure universal quality, inclusive education, which is at the core of all human development. We advocate for key areas including girls’ education, disability-inclusive education and education for children and youth living in emergency and crisis settings. To work toward our goal, GCE-US — in partnership with our 80+ coalition members and GCE partner coalitions in more than 100 countries — create advocacy and policy strategies to educate policymakers and the U.S. public about the right to education for all. Our coalition provides a space for organizations and advocates to share best practices, initiatives and campaigns with others for expanded impact together. We work with key global and national policymakers to advocate for universal quality, inclusive education for all.
How does supporting girls worldwide contribute to completing your organization’s overall mission?
Amid these interconnected crises, the significance of education has been magnified. It is clear that now is the time to press for new and strengthened initiatives and funding to ensure access and support for girls’ education and hold policymakers accountable for commitments made to girls. A dynamic and equity-centered response to global education now can act as a catalyst for sustainable, systems-wide change that molds a new global education paradigm centering access and inclusion for girls, children and youth with disabilities and other historically marginalized groups.
What is the best example you’ve seen of your organization’s work making a difference in girls’ lives around the globe?
GCE-US student fellows, staff, board members, partners and supporters advocate for gender-transformative, disability-inclusive education. For example, GCE-US Senior Fellow Anny Lin spoke at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit on this topic, urging global leaders to invest in quality, inclusive education for all — especially girls and children with disabilities — and GCE-US Graduate Fellow Maha Shoaib and partners spoke in the U.S. Senate about the power of girls’ education, inclusive education and literacy.
Taylor Rogers, GCE-US Youth Advocacy Leader and Student Fellow, shared this testimonial with examples of our organizational work and impact:
“I went to Washington, D.C. to attend the Global Campaign for Education-US’s Youth Advocacy Summit. It was my first act as a newly appointed GCE-US Youth Advocacy Leader. I was excited and nervous for the 3-day Summit that would provide skills and connections, including speaking with my congressional representatives, understanding the global education advocacy landscape and learning how to influence both of these spaces.
Working as a GCE-US Fellow later gave me the opportunity to continue to grow these skills. I was able to participate in high-level meetings on girls’ education, education in emergencies, climate change advocacy and inclusion. I gained in-depth experience working in a coalition to pass specific pieces of legislation, preparing for and meeting with high-level decision-makers in domestic and international spaces and growing our grassroots base through Global Action Week for Education events and social media outreach.
All of this has not only expanded my advocacy skill set and capacity but has also given me deeper insights into how to advocate better for global education as I move my career forward. I would not be where I am today without the knowledge and skills that my time as a GCE-US Youth Advocacy Leader and Fellow provided.”
What message would you like to send to advocates who are passionate about supporting girls globally?
Every person can make a difference. Promoting education for all, gender equality and human rights might sound like a daunting task at times, however, there is tremendous strength in numbers. Joining groups of like-minded advocates can be a wonderful way to rally for girls globally. It’s critical to center the voices of girls who are fighting for their human rights. All are invited to join GCE-US in our efforts to support girls on a global scale. You can learn more by signing up for action alerts with GCE-US. To get involved, we also encourage individuals to follow us on our social media channels (Twitter/X, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube) and to take action online.