Girls' Unique Risks
More attention is now being placed on ensuring that the many millions of girls in crisis-affected contexts have access to education. But continued effort is required to ensure that a focus on quantitative measures of access (e.g., numbers of girls enrolled in school) does not overlook protection, participation and empowerment. It is critically important to consider how educational systems affected by crisis can be supported to meet the protection needs of girls, young women, boys and young men. Likewise, support must be given to help education act as a force for recovery, reconstruction and stability. When education is equally accessible to girls and boys, then young people of both genders will have opportunities to be active peace-builders and/or agents of social change and development.
It is important also to remember that targeted support to women in contexts where men are unemployed and lacking livelihood opportunities may have the unintended consequence of triggering or escalating gender-based violence. This needs to be thought through well in advance of implementing programs that promote girls' education and training in order to avoid such an undesirable and contradictory outcome.
We must also ensure that the educational experiences available to girls are designed to fully realize the Millennium Development Goal of empowering women and achieving gender equality. For more information, visit www.un.org/millenniumgoals/.