Rida, age 18, is a member of Plan International’s Youth For Education in Emergencies panel, also known as Youth4EiE. Young leaders like her from around the world are working together to put education in emergencies on the global agenda.
From Plan’s 85+ years of experience, we know that the right to education is most at–risk during emergencies, but it is also the exact time when girls need it most. So, panel leaders like Rida combine their skills, networks and expertise to help raise awareness of the challenges children face in accessing education in emergencies.
Here, in honor of International Day of Education, Rida reflects on the panel’s accomplishments last year, in her own words.
This story is part of Plan’s blog series called “In her own words,” where you’ll read incredibly powerful stories directly from the experts with whom we work: the girls and women themselves.
Hi! I’m Rida, and I’m a part of Plan International’s Youth for Education in Emergencies panel, alongside different young people from all around the world. We work together and separately in our individual countries to advance advocacy and support for education in emergencies, and different topics that come underneath this issue, such as girls’ education.
I first got involved with Plan International through Plan USA’s Youth Leadership Academy, where I learned more about global issues and how young people can step in to help their communities. This panel really helped me put into practice what I learned at the YLA, and helped all of us establish a worldwide community to advance work around education and similar issues.
Let’s look back on a year of Y4EiE, recapping our year as one global youth panel working on education in emergencies …
The Y4EiE Global Youth Panel Project formed, and our website launched! We are organized by Plan International U.K. and funded by Education Cannot Wait, which is funded by the United Nations. Check out our profiles here!
Victoria, another YLA alum, and I went to the office of the U.K. Mission to the United Nations in New York to introduce our panel, as well as our goals and top-level global advocacy messaging, to Helen Grant and Yasmine Sherif, two world leaders in education in emergencies. It was cool to talk directly and express our ideas with leaders themselves!
An event organized by the panel was held in Malawi to raise awareness for issues that children and young people are facing in the Dzaleka refugee camp and the surrounding villages. This meeting involved the government, UNHCR and other implementing partners. Damien, a panel member from Malawi, presented on issues in education. And Angela, another panel member from Malawi, was the emcee for the event.
After being selected as Indonesia’s representatives in the Youth4EiE, Yoris and Indy were facilitated by Plan Indonesia to organize a number of advocacy activities at the national and global levels. Yoris and Indy developed their EiE national advocacy strategy — the output of this whole process — and disseminated it through the “Sharing Achievements and Challenges of Education in Emergencies in Indonesia” webinar, on Instagram live with Plan Indonesia and also presented to Youth4EiE.
Damien and Angela developed their national advocacy strategy plan to support education in emergencies in Malawi by visiting four districts (Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Mulanje and Phalombe) that are affected by weather crises and education challenges each year.
Wenddy, panel member from Ecuador, was selected to attend a pre-meeting for the Transforming Education Summit held in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters, to help build support and structure around the key goals to be discussed in September 2022 in New York at the summit with world leaders.
Wenddy and another panel member from Ecuador, Nataly, presented their ideas for a campaign on education in emergencies on Plan’s social media. This was important for Wenddy and Nataly because they were able to demonstrate, in a larger way, the challenges that young people face when trying to access education in crisis situations.
Damien and Angela also attended the fourth Southern Africa Regional Students and Youth Consortium on sexual reproductive health, which was held in Lilongwe. This was a regional conference that brought together young people to discuss issues that affect their lives, and commitments they wanted leaders to address.
Yoris took part in the Southeast Asia Regional Youth Consultation for the Transforming Education Summit. In addition, he spoke at an event called the “International Youth Talk: Promoting Youth Voices on the G20.” And, together with Indy, he organized a webinar called “The Spirit of Independence: Realizes Gender Responsive Education in Emergency Situations” to celebrate International Humanitarian Day.
September marks our most monumental month as a team! Most of the panel (members from the U.S., U.K., Lebanon, Indonesia, Ecuador and Zimbabwe) traveled to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly Transforming Education Summit!
Tabeth and Michelle, panel members from Zimbabwe, attended a pre-consultation meeting to talk about how education in emergencies affects young people.
Michelle spoke at the “Unlock the Future of Learning” event and gave her pitch on digitalization in marginalized areas.
Nataly from Ecuador also presented at the “Unlock the Future of Learning” event to discuss the barriers girls and women face in emergencies, especially comprehensive sexuality education in countries like Ecuador.
Tia, a panel member from Lebanon, attended an international development event in Canada, where she met the honorable Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of international development. They talked about their shared belief that all children deserve quality access to education.
Panel members also spent a day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., speaking to different key people and events to show youth support for the Keeping Girls in School Act. This revolutionary bill would direct foreign aid money to preventing and addressing the challenges and barriers girls face when trying to access school and more around the world.
Tia and Victoria spoke at an event where they discussed their experiences with education, and why the Keeping Girls in School Act is important.
Meanwhile, Nataly and I spent our time on Capitol Hill talking to specific legislative directors about the Keeping Girls in School Act and how important it is that funding goes toward protecting girls and their ability to attend school. I talked about our panel’s work and our specific advocacy goals as an international group, as well as how these goals tie into the Keeping Girls in School Act, while Nataly talked about her specific experiences in Ecuador and her work with the panel and other organizations.
Yoris attended the Global Feminist Coalition for Gender Transformative Education event, organized by United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative. He and his team presented research results and, together with the coalition, discussed important aspects of gender– transformative education to be conveyed to world leaders and education stakeholders.
Nataly and Wenddy participated in International Day of the Girl (Oct. 11) activities in Ecuador with other young people to celebrate the importance of girls and girls’ education. Nataly and Wenddy led an Ambassadors for Education project in Ecuador, and they presented a manifesto for quality education to their community leader, who signed a commitment to support workshops on emergency education for schools in that area.
Wenddy presented the manifesto that she and Nataly worked on for quality education in the provincial government of Manabí in Ecuador. This manifesto contains stories of young people and education in Ecuador, and has a direct connection with the central government of Ecuador.
Damien spoke at the International Youth Day Commemoration event in the Dzaleka refugee settlement. The theme of this event was “Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a world of ages.” He talked about young people fleeing their homelands during crises and the lack of attention paid to the quality of education that young people receive during these crises.
In the U.K., Yoris and Sarah spoke to the Board of Trustees at the Plan International U.K.’s office about the work of the Y4EiE panel.
And in Indonesia, Yoris together with Plan Indonesia PIA Lembata facilitated media advocacy training for young people in five villages and two districts.
An event called “16 Days of Activism” was hosted by the Youth Advisory Panel in Malawi to raise awareness on gender-based violence. This event included a panel discussion, where young people discussed ways they are trying to end gender-based violence in their respective areas. The village chief who attended this event also talked about the laws in the region that are helping to end gender-based violence.
Yoris took part in a number of capacity-building activities, including joining Lembata Youth to take part in resilient school training organized by Plan Indonesia, and joining the Indonesia Education in Emergencies Youth Ambassador initiated by Plan Indonesia, UNICEF Indonesia and partners.
And that’s a wrap! The Y4EiE panel has accomplished so much more as well, from publications to youth organizing and more! We’re also preparing to support those traveling to Geneva, Switzerland in February 2023 for the Education Cannot Wait Financing Conference. We hope to continue our work supporting education in emergencies so that no young person is left behind.