In line with the heightened spirit of charity and learning characteristic of the Holy Month of Ramadan, Dubai Cares has launched a campaign to increase awareness of the plight of the girl-child in obtaining primary education, an issue that is still prevalent in several developing countries world-over.
As girls continue to represent two-thirds of the world?s children who receive less than four years of primary education, the ?Girls? Education Campaign 2011? aims to reduce this alarming gap by educating the general public about this radical imbalance and garnering its support in addressing the issue.
The campaign shall further reach out to rural communities plagued by female-illiteracy and attempt to create opportunities for young girls to gain fundamental primary education that would not only empower them as the women of tomorrow, but also contribute positively to the socio-economic development of these poverty stricken regions, as was cited by Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, in a public statement:
?It is a known fact that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of a country goes up when a girl gets educated, but we have a lot of cultures and traditions around the world where communities reject or refuse to send their girls to school. We (Dubai Cares) have running programmes related to girls? education, that we launched three years ago in Pakistan and Yemen, but this year we wanted to promote it further and spread the awareness to the local community. Hopefully by the end of this Ramadan the public would understand the importance of this issue and help out with their support,?
A unique aspect of the campaign is a mock-classroom that shall be built in Dubai Mall with the help of donors who can help complete the structure by purchasing a foam brick with the donation of Dhs. 50, an act which symbolizes their true contribution towards building a real classroom somewhere around the world for the education of girls.
Dubai Cares, a charitable organization that was founded in 2007 by H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, seeks to further the philanthropic leader?s vision of making education accessible to less fortunate children all over the globe and eliminating gender inequality by 2015 on par with the UN Millennium Development plan (Goals 2 and 3).
The UAE, a forerunner in providing education to all of its citizens regardless of their gender, is one of the only two Arab Gulf States to have a greater proportion of women in education than men, with women comprising 70% of the student body in higher education.
The issue of gender disparity in education has been addressed aggressively in the Arab World in previous years, with girl enrolment in compulsory schools more than doubling in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq between 1960 and 1988 alone. This progress can be attributed to global initiatives that have increased knowledge and understanding of the importance of educating women, the economic development within the region, and a social movement in favor of the empowerment of women as dictated by culture and religion.
However, there is still a long way to go before the Middle East can declare accomplishment of the UN MDGs within the region. According to the World Bank, the wider gender gaps across the MENA region are found in Yemen, Morocco and Egypt. In rural Egypt, 600,000 girls between the ages of 6 to 10 are reportedly not enrolled in school. War-torn regions illustrate another aspect of the problem, with 800,000 children out of school in post-war Iraq, the majority of which are, unsurprisingly, girls.