Social change means education for women

Article published on Oct. 17, 2017
Article published on Oct. 17, 2017

[OPINION] Throughout history, young people have been at the centre of social change. It is the energy of youth activists with a mission in their heart that makes the world move forwards. To anyone who says we are apathetic about politics, they are wrong. Nowadays, the new generation is even more educated, politicized and demanding.

Throughout history, young people have been at the centre of social change. From fighting for justice or human rights, such as the civil rights movement, to political revolts that change countries forever - it is the energy of youth activists with a mission in their heart that makes the world move forwards. To anyone who says we are apathetic about politics, they are wrong. Nowadays, the new generation is even more educated, politicized and demanding.

I have seen this in my own experience as a Youth Ambassador for The ONE Campaign. We are not only passionate, but we are equipped with the training and knowledge on how to achieve our goals.  Through ONE, I have learned how to lobby my politicians; persuading them to make sure the EU continues to be a leader in international development and helping the world’s poorest. Speaking to influential individuals about EU aid and its support to the world’s poorest has been a fantastic opportunity because I really feel involved in shaping decision making on crucial issues.

The European Parliament is “the citizen’s voice in the EU”, and is open to individuals who wish to have their voice heard. I know what my message will be. It will be making sure that the EU stays on track to help the world’s poorest, and I will be speaking with my MEPs to ask them to be ambitious with EU aid in the 2018 budget. This goal is not mine alone, but shared this with more than 200 other Youth Ambassadors – representing 30 nationalities – who will take to the European Parliament for a grand ‘lobby day’ on October 17th.

It is important that our representatives in the Parliament listen to us – the EU is key to ending extreme poverty around the world. The EU and its Member States are the world’s biggest aid donor, assisting populations in need by providing them food, access to clean water, medical treatment and education. Between mid-2014 and mid-2015, more than 18,000 children got access to an education thanks to the EU. EU support to developing countries has made a huge difference for vulnerable populations.

There is still more to be done, and a key part that the EU must focus on is helping girls and women in the world’s poorest countries.  Nowhere in the world do girls and women have the same opportunities in life that boys and men do. It’s a problem here in Europe; a 2017 Report on equality between women and men in the EU, published by the European Commission, states: “in the third quarter of 2016, the employment rate for men stood at 77.4 %, while the employment rate for women reached an all-time high level of 65.5 %”. But the problem is worse if you live in extreme poverty, you are hit twice; by the country you are born in, as well as the fact that you are a girl.

It affects girls from an early age, with girls being disadvantaged from school years. This means that during the time young people are learning basic skills such as reading and writing – that underpin everything else in life – many girls are being left behind. Surprisingly few people know that 130 million girls around the world are not being educated. That’s 130 million potential doctors, teachers and business owners who are not getting the full opportunities to help them prosper.

Women’s education is one of the key areas to address if we are going to defeat extreme poverty for good. The EU is a central player in this, and can help to achieve this goal, but only if they take the right path.

To combat extreme poverty, I believe the EU should take concrete actions through the EU budget. First, the main focus of EU aid must be poverty eradication - any diversion from this goal will impose an unacceptable toll on the world’s poorest. Second, funds for health, education, food and nutrition security and humanitarian aid should be increased. Third, the response to any new challenges the EU tackles must be funded with new money – not using funds intended for long-term development.

This technical and specialist policy may sound distant, but it makes a difference to millions of people around the world. That’s why activists like me and the other Youth Ambassadors should never stop fighting for justice in order to make the world a better place where everyone has equal opportunities, no matter where they’re born. 

Throughout history, young people have been at the centre of social change. From fighting for justice or human rights, such as the civil rights movement, to political revolts that change countries forever - it is the energy of youth activists with a mission in their heart that makes the world move forwards. To anyone who says we are apathetic about politics, they are wrong. Nowadays, the new generation is even more educated, politicized and demanding.

I have seen this in my own experience as a Youth Ambassador for The ONE Campaign. We are not only passionate, but we are equipped with the training and knowledge on how to achieve our goals.  Through ONE, I have learned how to lobby my politicians; persuading them to make sure the EU continues to be a leader in international development and helping the world’s poorest. Speaking to influential individuals about EU aid and its support to the world’s poorest has been a fantastic opportunity because I really feel involved in shaping decision making on crucial issues.

The European Parliament is “the citizen’s voice in the EU”, and is open to individuals who wish to have their voice heard. I know what my message will be. It will be making sure that the EU stays on track to help the world’s poorest, and I will be speaking with my MEPs to ask them to be ambitious with EU aid in the 2018 budget. This goal is not mine alone, but shared this with more than 200 other Youth Ambassadors – representing 30 nationalities – who will take to the European Parliament for a grand ‘lobby day’ on October 17th.

It is important that our representatives in the Parliament listen to us – the EU is key to ending extreme poverty around the world. The EU and its Member States are the world’s biggest aid donor, assisting populations in need by providing them food, access to clean water, medical treatment and education. Between mid-2014 and mid-2015, more than 18,000 children got access to an education thanks to the EU. EU support to developing countries has made a huge difference for vulnerable populations.

There is still more to be done, and a key part that the EU must focus on is helping girls and women in the world’s poorest countries.  Nowhere in the world do girls and women have the same opportunities in life that boys and men do. It’s a problem here in Europe; a 2017 Report on equality between women and men in the EU, published by the European Commission, states: “in the third quarter of 2016, the employment rate for men stood at 77.4 %, while the employment rate for women reached an all-time high level of 65.5 %”. But the problem is worse if you live in extreme poverty, you are hit twice; by the country you are born in, as well as the fact that you are a girl.

It affects girls from an early age, with girls being disadvantaged from school years. This means that during the time young people are learning basic skills such as reading and writing – that underpin everything else in life – many girls are being left behind. Surprisingly few people know that 130 million girls around the world are not being educated. That’s 130 million potential doctors, teachers and business owners who are not getting the full opportunities to help them prosper.

Women’s education is one of the key areas to address if we are going to defeat extreme poverty for good. The EU is a central player in this, and can help to achieve this goal, but only if they take the right path.

To combat extreme poverty, I believe the EU should take concrete actions through the EU budget. First, the main focus of EU aid must be poverty eradication - any diversion from this goal will impose an unacceptable toll on the world’s poorest. Second, funds for health, education, food and nutrition security and humanitarian aid should be increased. Third, the response to any new challenges the EU tackles must be funded with new money – not using funds intended for long-term development.

This technical and specialist policy may sound distant, but it makes a difference to millions of people around the world. That’s why activists like me and the other Youth Ambassadors should never stop fighting for justice in order to make the world a better place where everyone has equal opportunities, no matter where they’re born. 

Join more than 50,000 European citizens and sign our petition to ask EU leaders to secure and equal and just future for all.

This article was written by Andri Stavrou, a Youth Ambassador for ONE Campaign.