September 24, 2014
Written by Eliana Dockterman, TIME
This post originally appeared on TIME.com here.
On Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton and Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a new Clinton Global Initiative commitment with the Center on Universal Education at the Brookings Institution for girls’ education called CHARGE (The Collaborative for Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Girls Education). The initiative will include 30 other partners, including governments like the United States and organizations from the private sector, committing $600 million to reach 14 million girls around the world in the next five years.
“It’s time to both celebrate the progress we’ve made and redouble our efforts,” said Clinton at the announcement.
Gillard, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, approached Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton a year ago to work together on the initiative. “I think across the world, as we talk about women in developing countries, there’s been increasing recognition that empowering women and girls is a key change agent for development. There have been some truly shocking incidents that have caused us to have tears in our eyes and sharply intake our breath—what happened to Malala, what has happened with the Nigerian schoolgirls—that powerfully remind us that in some part of the world, getting an education is still a very dangerous thing for a girl,” Gillard told TIME. “It’s being targeted because it’s powerful. Education is powerful, which is why some people want to stop it and why we should feel so passionate about assuring that it occurs.”
Up until now, world leaders have focused on enrolling girls in primary school at the same rate as boys. And though the rate of female enrollment in primary school has risen from less than half to nearly 80% in the last 25 years, issues of quality and safety still persist. The Girls CHARGE initiative aims to address what they are calling a “second generation” of girls’ issues especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South West Asia. And while incidents like the kidnapping in Nigeria of more than 200 school girls by the radical group Boko Haram are extreme, they are emblematic of the harsh realities of educating girls in some parts of the world.