BRUSSELS â Girls who receive a quality education are more likely to lead healthy lives, yet on International Day of the GirlÂ on October 11, more than 130 millionÂ girls worldwide arenât in school.
In Brussels, policymakers and activists are meeting throughout the week to discuss some of the biggest barriers to girlsâ well-being, such as teen pregnancy, sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, and school dropout rates.
A report from ONEÂ released Wednesday set out the stark gender gaps in education worldwide. It found that just two of the 10 countries where it is hardest for girls to get an education â which include South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Niger â are meeting the target set by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) of spending 20 percent of the national budget on education. Meanwhile, educationâs shareÂ of official development assistance has dropped from 13 percent to 10 percent since 2002.
Irena Andrassy, deputy chief of staff for the European Unionâs Development Commissioner Neven Mimica, told participants at the Girlsâ Summit in the Belgian capital on Wednesday that the EU would âtop upâ funding for the GPE next year, without giving specifics. Andrassy also pledged additional funding to Education Cannot Wait, a fund designed to provide education in emergency situations.
But the ONE report noted that funding is not the only obstacle to girlsâ education: for example, Burundi has the worldâs lowest GDP per capita at $286, but outperforms 18 other countries with higher GDPs when it comes to girlsâ education, according to the NGOâs index.
For many participants at events in Brussels this week, the focus is on the social barriers that can hold girls back.
As an official from the EUâs development department, DEVCO, told a