OLANIKE: Our priority ask from policymakers is to bridge the learning gap created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Through returning girls who dropped out of school, ensuring digital equality and strengthening school systems to prevent violence and to provide needed intervention for survivors.
Millions of girls have had to drop out of school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a major setback for the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, any COVID-19 recovery plan that does not address the educational and safety needs of girls is not holistic and acceptable. As social change leaders, we must actively engage and hold policymakers accountable.
YONA: First and foremost is to listen to girls! Include girls and young women whose education and safety has been impacted by COVID-19 in policy dialogue and decision making. Too many decisions about girls’ lives get made by men who don’t fully understand what girls need to thrive.
Also hugely important is financing. I’m very concerned about current funding trends and austerity measures taken by governments in their COVID-19 recovery plans, which seem to cut education and other social services first. Cuts to public social services hurt girls and women the most and we cannot have a just recovery without proper investment.
And lastly, to ensure we not only transform education delivery in order to make quality learning more accessible for all during times of disruption (COVID-19 won’t be the first or last global crisis — think climate crisis!), but to also take this critical opportunity to transform and decolonize our curriculum, pedagogies and textbooks.
Education has a huge potential to transform patriarchal beliefs and harmful gender norms that perpetuate violence and harmful practices. Gender Transformative Education can and should be the new norm as we build back equal.