Facing up to the challenges ahead

Facing up to the challenges ahead

Conflict affected countries | Sudan protests | Women as human shields | Factory workers paid 35p | The Future of Education and Employers from the OECD | Recommended PODCASTS

2019 has so far been a year of harsh realities. There are many challenges across the world, with so much work to be done to try and move forward. 

This month I am sharing articles that illustrate the true breadth of what we need to tackle. From high street retailers still being part of a system that pay garment workers 35p an hour, to women being used as human shields by IS. There are many more stories across the world that illustrate the challenges ahead, but what is positive are the steps being taken by organisations like the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) that are looking to the future and the importance of education in global progress and long-term change.

I have also included two Podcasts which I encourage you to listen to. One from Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security, and the other from the Leadership with Biana Kovic Show. Both sharing stories of empowerment, whether it's about the role of women in war and peace, or in leadership. 

Best wishes,

Baroness Goudie

Baroness Goudie Speech in the House of Lords:
 Conflict-affected Countries - Adolescent Girls

Why should we be concerned about supporting adolescent girls in fragile and conflict-affected countries? Today, 62 million girls around the world are not in school, and at least 20 million of them live in conflict-affected and fragile settings as refugees or displaced people, or are otherwise vulnerable to human trafficking, rape and other things that we have never even thought about. So many lives are being wasted. These girls sometimes become pregnant at eight or nine and have babies. Their babies cannot become full adults because they are not fully formed. This is the battle we have to continually fight to have all girls in education.

Educating girls is the smart and the right thing to do and is the world’s best development investment. We have to persuade the British Government, and other Governments who have cut their budgets, in particular Australia and America, and persuade Japan and other countries to do more. But it is not just about the funding and commitments; we should be ensuring access to quality. We should not have teachers who we know have had just a few days’ training—we want the best and must pay the best to work in these difficult areas, to have consistent education for girls in these settings.

Why does this matter? If girls are educated, in the long term we prevent forced marriage, lower maternal and neonatal mortality; spur on women’s financial independence; reduce fertility rates; create smaller, more sustainable families; improve health and nutrition outcomes for families; shrink the rates of HIV/AIDS and malaria; and open opportunities for women’s political leadership. If more women are not educated, we will never get more women in political leadership at every level, and as we know, Britain has agreed not to go to peace talks without local women and other women at the peace table. How can we get local women if they are not being educated? Educating girls also increases children’s educational attainment levels, builds familial resilience to natural disasters and climate change, and boosts national economic growth.

To access education, displaced adolescent girls must overcome several challenges, such as transition and disruption, and problems with host countries and camps. We must have better support for them, not just using regular military people but trained military people, working with NGOs on the ground and trying to persuade people from those countries.

Four of the five countries that currently have the largest gender gaps in education also experience high levels of conflict. This is where we must start to put pressure at the highest level. We cannot just come in low down—we have to ensure that commitments materialise on the ground. However, the challenges to providing quality educational opportunities remain significant. Within this context, educating displaced adolescent girls is particularly challenging, but it is imperative for the long-term stability and prosperity of not only their countries—their GDP—but the world.

Since the adoption of the millennium development goals in 2000, significant progress has been made in increasing girls’ primary school enrolment, but secondary school enrolment remains limited. We know why that is: girls are either sold off or their parents get them married off because they think, “I’ve got rid of another problem in my life”. Fewer than one in three girls in sub-Saharan Africa and less than half of girls in south Asia are currently enrolled in secondary education. Of at least 14 million refugee and internally displaced children between three and 15, only one in two attends any form of school at all, and for how many hours? When crises strike, adolescent girls are acutely vulnerable. In these settings, girls are two and a half times more likely to be out of school as compared to their male peers. What a world we are living in. That is why I hope that we can have more joined-up approach from the FCO, DfID and the Ministry of Defence. I know that they work together, but we need to look towards a future in which we all work together, pool the money, and get more support from organisations that have funding.

Call for action on Sudan protests

MPs and others call for UK government action to protect Sudanese protesters, and Guppi Kaur Bola raises concerns about violence against healthcare workers

We are writing to raise serious concerns following violent attacks on peaceful protesters by the government of Sudan (Report, 18 January). Dozens of protesters have been killed by security forces in an attempt to suppress the protests, and the government’s response appears to be escalating. There have been disturbing reports of security forces firing bullets and teargas into hospitals, which for many observers is troublingly reminiscent of atrocities committed by the regime in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Read more on The Guardian

IS using women and children as human shields in extremists' final pocket of land

Coalition forces say IS is "finished" and it's "just a matter of days, not weeks", before it loses its last piece of land.

Islamic State is using women and children as human shields as US-led coalition forces battle to rout the extremists from their final pocket of land.

Coalition soldiers have suspended attacks temporarily to try to encourage civilians inside the IS enclave to come out through a humanitarian corridor they have created in the desert.

Thousands have been streaming out in the last few weeks - several hundred each day, and as many as 3,000 in one 24-hour period.

Read more on Sky News

Tesco, Mothercare and M&S use factory paying workers 35p an hour

Bangladeshi firm that made charity Spice Girls T-shirts also works with major UK retailers

Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Mothercare use a factory in Bangladesh that paid the equivalent of 35p an hour to machinists making Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief, it can be revealed.

Guardian investigation disclosed that the predominantly female employees claimed they experienced verbal abuse and harassment from management during shifts of up to 16 hours.

Read more on The Guardian

The OECD in conjunction with Education and Employers launch new report at Davos

On Wednesday 23 January, the OECD and the UK-based charity Education and Employers launched a new report at Davos during the World Economic Forum:  Envisioning the Future of Education and Jobs: Trends, Data and Drawings.

The report looks at the future of education and jobs and the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It concluded that the skills mismatch observed in the labour market has its roots in primary school, and that giving all children, regardless of gender and social background, the same chance to meet professionals in a variety of fields is the key to widening their view of the world of work.

The World Economic Forum featured an article by our CEO Nick Chambers on main its website Agenda: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/children-career-

The OECD’s Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher presented the report which was followed by a panel discussion with Deloitte’s Global Chairman David Cruickshank (and Chair of Education and Employers), the Rt Helen Clark former Prime Minister of New Zealand and the first head of the United Nations Development Programme, Andria Zafirako winner of the $1m Global Teacher Prize winner and Nick Chambers, CEO of Education and Employers.

The event was live streamed by Deloitte and the whole presentation and panel discussion can be viewed here.

“We now know that this mismatch is set at a young age and heavily influenced by socio-economic background, gender and the role models seen by children,” says Nick Chambers, CEO of Education and Employers. “This means we need to engage with children early on to help inspire their interests and career aspirations. They are our future workforce and key to the success of the fourth industrial revolution.”

To accompany the report, the OECD produced this short video:

In the ‘Drawing the Future’ global report that the charity launched at Davos last year, more than 20,000 primary school children were asked to draw the job they wanted to do when they grow up.  Only 1% knew about a job from someone visiting school.  36% based their careers aspirations on someone they know with 45% being influenced by TV, film and radio.

Findings also highlighted how gender stereotyping exists from the age of seven.  Over four times the number of boys wanted to become engineers compared to girls with nearly double the number of boys aspiring to become scientists compared to girls.  Conceptions of traditional femininity specifically ideas around ‘caring and nurturing’ may explain why two and half times the number of girls wanted to become doctors compared to boys.  Measures of disadvantage also played a part. In less disadvantaged areas, boys are more likely to choose engineer over mechanic with girls, likely to choose architect rather than hairdresser.

And on the day before for the first time World Economic Forum delegates visited the Davos primary school to emphasise the importance of engaging with young children to help ignite their ambitions.

We are always looking for more volunteers to go into school to change this.  Just one hour a year can make an enormous impact on children, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds.  The Inspiring the Future and Primary Futures programmes which the charity runs are versatile, easy to use and free.

Our Primary Futures and Inspiring the Future Campaigns are designed for primary and secondary schools.  They are easy and free to use.

On the same day as the release of this report, the charity also released a report in conjunction with Teach Firstwhich provides practical advice of how to embed careers-related learning into the primary curriculum.  If you would like to know more about how schools can get involved please contact  – info@educationandemployers.org

The charity’s vital research, endorsed by government and business, underpins all the programmes that they run.  It examines the impact of what happens to young people when they meet with employers for more information visit our research pages.


PODCAST - Seeking Peace, from Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security

A new podcast that explores the roles of women in war and peace. Women are not just victims of conflict. They are leaders, and often unsung heroes. We bring you their stories. This podcast is a production of Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security.

PODCAST - Leadership with Biana Kovic Show - Stephenie Foster

Leadership with Biana Kovic Show features leaders and their stories / thoughts on leadership and best leadership practices. This is the 11th episode of the Leadership with Biana Kovic Show that featured a special guest, Stephenie Foster, Co - Founder and Partner, Smash Strategies.

A Guest Blog for Plan UK: Really reaching the most marginalised? The role of research in understanding the realities of girls’ lives

A Guest Blog for Plan UK: Really reaching the most marginalised? The role of research in understanding the realities of girls’ lives

Strive for change in 2019

Strive for change in 2019