Dubai charity pledges $6m to boost girls' education

Dubai Cares, a charity established by the emirate’s ruler, will invest $6m to fund education programmes for girls in South Sudan, Mozambique and the Philippines, its CEO said Tuesday.

The money will be distributed over four years in partnership with the development agency Plan International Canada (PIC), as part of wider efforts to tackle poverty rates by improving education opportunities for girls. “Education, we believe, is the number one way to solve poverty,” said Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive officer of Dubai Cares. “Girls are the future mothers of any society. Every girl that receives an education is more likely to make education a priority for her children. It’s a ripple effect of positive change in the community and country.” The money will be used to bolster primary school attendance, to increase the number of girls continuing to secondary education, and in the fight to overcome barriers such as early marriage and child labour, which can effectively lock children out of school. The programmes may also offer young mothers the option of distance learning, or provide financial incentives to families who rely on their children to contribute to the family income. The split of funding across the three countries has not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to help “tens of thousands of girls”, Al Gurg said. It is the largest single funding announcement made by Dubai Cares to date this year. Plan International Canada will also contribute a further 10 to 15 per cent in addition to the Dubai Cares pledge of $6m. Numerous studies have shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to tackle poverty and social prejudice. Bolstering literacy among girls improves outcomes in health and income levels, and is linked to the age at which women marry and have children. Despite this, a gender gap remains in many developing countries. In South Sudan, according to PIC, just six percent of 13-year-old girls have completed their primary school education. Among boys, the rate is two to three times higher. “These three countries are ones where it is very difficult to attract international donors, and they each have very unique needs,” said Tanjina Mirza, vice president of international programmes, PIC. “But if there is one change we want to make to eradicate global poverty, it is [to improve] education for girls.” The announcement was timed to coincide with the UN's annual International Day of the Girl Child, which will take place on Oct 11.