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Past Event

Girls’ education research and policy symposium: Protecting rights and futures in times of crisis

Past Event

The world today faces a panoply of challenges—a global pandemic, economic turmoil, climate change, armed conflict, and humanitarian disasters—unlike any other time in recent history. These social, environmental, and health crises exacerbate existing gender inequalities and obstruct the pathways for girls and young women seeking quality education, economic empowerment, and improved life outcomes. With crisis mode becoming ever more common, what can we do to help protect and promote the rights of girls and young women?

On November 30 from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. EST, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) began the first day of the virtual girls’ education research and policy symposium with a plenary discussion to showcase the 2021 Echidna Global Scholars and help answer this question. After keynote remarks from Future Rising Fellow Eden Tadese of Girl Rising who shared her own personal experiences with the challenges girls and young women face today, the Echidna Global Scholars discussed what they learned from girls and young women navigating crises across Vietnam, India, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Through highlighting findings from their policy briefs related to education in emergencies, technical and vocational agriculture education and training, the role of mentorship in young women’s transition to the labor force, and effective training and support for aspiring young women entrepreneurs, the scholars shared the practical applications of their research to help ensure girls and young women can exercise their rights to quality education and learning opportunities—especially in times of crisis.

Viewers submitted questions via email to or via Twitter at #EGSP21.

Virtual workshop discussions

For those interested in delving deeper into the scholars’ individual research, CUE encouraged registration for virtual workshop discussions from November 30 to December 2 at the below time:

  • Creating gender-responsive education in emergencies in Nigeria: November 30, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST
    • Girls in Nigeria face multiple barriers to formal learning even in the best of times; these challenges are compounded in times of emergency, whether due to armed conflict, natural disasters, or epidemics. How can governments in Nigeria ensure that girls have access to quality, relevant, gender-responsive education even in times of emergency?
  • Aligning policy and practice to build the next generation of women’s entrepreneurship in Vietnam: December 1, 7:00 – 8:30 a.m. EST
    • Vietnam highlights female entrepreneurship as central to its national development strategy, yet this has not been borne out in practice, as women-owned enterprises have been among the greatest economic casualties of the COVID-19 lockdown. How can policy and practice work together to ensure aspiring women entrepreneurs have the competencies, support, and opportunities they need to succeed?
  • Catalyzing the potential of Afghan girls through formal agricultural education, December 1, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. EST
    • Women and girls make up nearly 70 percent of the agricultural work force in Afghanistan, yet only 15 percent of students in formal agriculture education are female, and even fewer are able to realize their career aspirations in the formal sector. With the recent dramatic developments in the country, their future seems even more uncertain. How can national and international actors increase Afghan girls’ and young women’s participation in formal agriculture education and ensure that they take their rightful place in the country’s growth and development?
  • Building a digital mentoring ecosystem to support young women’s transition to work in India, December 2, 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. EST
    • Even as more young women reach post-secondary education in India, women’s labor force participation—one of the lowest in the world—has declined over the past 15 years. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges, particularly for young women from marginalized backgrounds looking to develop the skills and networks needed to navigate social norms and thrive in the workplace. How can we build a digital mentoring ecosystem that facilitates skills exchange, network expansion, and role-modelling of gender transformative social norms at scale to ensure that young women from marginalized backgrounds realize their career aspirations and find economic empowerment?


Opening remarks

Panel discussion

Nangyalai Attal

2021 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution

Senior Policy Specialist - Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority of Afghanistan

Founder - Hode

Tran Thi Ngoc Tran

2021 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution

Co-founder and Co-Director - For Good Vietnam Network

Co-founder and Managing Director - ProPath Education Group


Closing remarks

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