UNICEF and Fox Kids Europe convene Fox Kids Cup finals in RotterdamROTTERDAM/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 22 June 2003 - Under the banner Go Girls! Education for Every Child, young football competitors today kicked off finals week of the Fox Kids Cup in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, bringing to a climax the first in a series of UNICEF campaigns focusing attention on girls' education though the power of sport.
Four hundred girls and boys under the age of 13 from 20 countries will take part in the final round of the Fox Kids Cup tournament, which this year is dedicated to Go Girls! Education for Every Child, UNICEF's campaign to direct attention and resources towards countries with a critical need to get more girls into school.
The final games will be played on Wednesday, 25 June at the Varkenoord stadium. A former African Footballer of the Year and Zambia national captain Kalusha Bwalya, will present the UNICEF Fair Play trophy to the winning girls team. Earlier this month, Kalusha was actively campaigning on another UNICEF priority, to vaccinate millions of Zambian children against measles.
More than 200,000 contenders started out on the road to the finals in their home countries in February. And at every step of the way they have been building support for Go Girls! among their friends, families and football fans.
"These kids have shown us what enthusiasm really means - both on the field and off it," said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF's Executive Director. "They have put as much passion into spreading the word on girls' education as they have into playing the sport they love. We saw their commitment to a world where every child receives a quality education - that means girls too. Are we willing to match that commitment?"
The Go Girls! pledge campaign calls on the public to support five targets that UNICEF believes must be met for all children, both girls and boys, to fulfil their right to a quality education: the best start in life, the best schools, the best teachers, safety and protection, and fairness.
While the young competitors have signed paper pledges, more are being collected online at the Fox Kids Cup website (www.foxkidscupinfo.com). UNICEF will continue to collect pledges over the next two and a half years in its ongoing global campaign to boost the number of girls attending school.
Globally, girls make up the majority of the nearly 120 million children of primary-school-age who are out of school. Girls consistently face more obstacles than boys to get into and stay in school. But when they get the chance, they can equip themselves with the knowledge and skills they need to build healthier and more productive lives. These benefits feed into the wider community and are passed on to future generations.
"There is no room to gamble with the education of girls," Bellamy said. "When a girl is denied her right to go to school, that girl is denied the knowledge she needs to protect herself against the threat of disease and the risk of abuse. She is denied the opportunity to develop the skills she needs to help herself, her community and her country to thrive."
UNICEF is committed to a world in which all children get the education that is their right. Mounting evidence shows that if we break down the barriers keeping girls out of school then we will automatically improve access to education for children everywhere.
Go Girls! Education for Every Child campaign is part of 25 by 2005, UNICEF's broader initiative to help remove these barriers in 25 countries by the year 2005.
During the finals week in Rotterdam, executives from the world of business and entertainment will hear from UNICEF about the challenges of getting girls into school and the young finalists will share their views on the issue.
UNICEF is also in partnership with FIFA, football's international governing body, to ensure that the critical issue of girls' education keeps a presence in the sporting world. The 2003 Women's World Cup, to be held in the USA in October, is also dedicated to girls' education.
"While competing for the Fox Kids Cup, young people have taken time to explore, discuss and bring well-needed attention to the state of girls' education around the world," Bellamy said. "What is needed now is for governments to move ahead urgently with their plans to ensure that every child receives the quality education that is her right."
About 25 by 2005
UNICEF's 25 by 2005 campaign is a major initiative to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education in 25 countries by the year 2005. It focuses on those countries - 13 in Africa and six in South Asia - where girls' education is in a critical situation and urgent help is required to meet the Millennium Development Goal of gender parity in primary and secondary education by 2005.
UNICEF will work closely with national governments and other partners to identify girls who are not in school. In each country, UNICEF will work with the government to mobilise new resources, build broad national consensus about the need to get girls into school, and help improve schools themselves to make them more welcoming to girls.
UNICEF has chosen a manageable number of countries and based its selection on criteria that looked for countries with one or more of the following: low enrolment rates for girls; gender gaps of more than 10% in primary education enrolment; countries with more than one million girls out of school; countries included on the World Bank's Education For All Fast Track Initiative; and countries hard hit by a range of crises that affect school opportunities for girls, such as HIV/AIDS and conflict.
For further information please contact:
Claire Hajaj, UNICEF New York, ++ 212.326.7566, email@example.com
Marc Vergara, UNICEF Geneva, ++ 41 22 909 5513 firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Janssen, Netherlands Committee for UNICEF, email@example.com cellphone (00 31) 6 275 33199