Education is the way to gender equality

Denmark announces additional support to UNICEF’s Safe School Initiative in the Sahel region.

Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro
UNICEF Niger/Vincent Tremeau
13 March 2019

NIAMEY (Niger), 13 March 2019 – “I am happy to announce a Danish contribution of DKK 50 mio (Approx. US$7.5 million) to UNICEF Safe School Initiative in the Sahel Region. During my travel in the region the last days I have witnessed firsthand the urgent need for a massive investment in especially girls’ education in the Sahel” stated HE. Ulla Tørnæs, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, on her twitter account following a few days visit to Burkina Faso and Niger.

“I am proud to note that Denmark, along with other partners, makes a huge difference to ensure the rights of women and girls are fulfilled in large parts of Africa. It gives cause for optimism. If we look specifically at the Sahel region, around the turn of the millennium, only approx. 29 percent of girls were in school in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Today it is approx. 67 percent” she said in a press statment issued on International women’s day March 8th, when visiting a school in Burkina Faso.

Since 2017, Denmark has supported education in Niger with DKK 80 million (Approx. US$ 12.1 million) through UNICEF. This funding has helped improve the education of more than 166,000 children (73,000 girls), including children from the conflict-affected regions of Tillaberi and Diffa. In 2019, this funding is further expected to contribute to schooling of nearly 45,000 children (36,000 girls), including children in areas affected by the Lake Chad Basin crisis and the Malian conflict. About 648,000 girls will also be indirectly supported through training of teachers, school directors and school management committee members on gender equity and girls’ education.

The fragile security and humanitarian situations at the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali (Tillabéri and Tahoua regions) is exemplified by the fact that 62,000 internal displaced people including children were registered in the two regions as of 28 February 2019.

“The school offers moral support for every single child. Schools give children stability and structure to help cope with the trauma they have experienced” says Aichatou Moussa, teacher at the Duane School, one of the UNICEF-supported school in the region of Tillaberi, through the Denmark funding.

“When children are disrupted in their schooling, it not only undermines children’s present well-being, but also puts their futures – and those of their societies – in jeopardy” says Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger. “Through Denmark’s funding support, we have supported national authorities to ensure continuity of education by conducting outreach activities, providing learning materials and diversifying the educational services in the region”

"Education is the way to gender equality. Girls in developing countries must have the same opportunities as boys to complete their school, and I will continue to advocate for this, among other things, by ensuring that Denmark focuses on girls' access to education and health care and on promoting their right to decide for themselves.” Ulla Tørnæs said in the press statement.

Denmark has a broad and integrated engagement in the Sahel region, including a country program in Niger to strengthen stability and peace, enhance access to basic rights and reduce extreme poverty with a specific focus on resilience. The Danish cooperation with Niger goes back to 1974. Denmark has achieved significant results and has played an important role in key areas within democracy and human rights, education, water supply and agriculture.