Bakhita Partnership for Education (BPE) 2023 UN SDG Summit Side Event

TOPIC: Empowering the African Girl Child Through Transformative Education: Harnessing the Power of Catholic Education for Sustainable Change

Convener:  Bakhita Partnership for Education

Prospective Co-convenors: Hilton Foundation, IPED Fordham University, UNESCO, UNICEF,

Venue: Fordham University, Constantino Room, Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center, 150 West 62nd Steer, New York NY 10023

Date:   18th September 2023

Time:  11:00 to 13:00


The Bakhita Partnership for Education (BPE) is proud to announce its intention to participate in the upcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Summit 2023, set to occur on the 18th and 19th of September, in New York City. As we approach the midway point to the target year 2030, this vital summit will not only serve as a reflection on progress made thus far, but more importantly, catalyze a new era of expedited action towards achieving the ambitious yet crucial Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In line with the transformative vision set forth by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Summit 2023, the Bakhita Partnership for Education (BPE) is gearing up to host a compelling side event during the Summit. This assembly is designed to highlight the substantial contribution of Catholic education in expediting the realization of sustainable development goals in Africa, particularly SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality).

Central to this event is our commitment to prioritizing and elevating the narratives, experiences, and insights of girls from underserved and marginalized communities. The event will feature the compelling voices of these resilient girls, who, with the help of BPE, have been given the chance for education. These young voices, often left unheard, will ensure their lived realities shape the discourse, drive decision-making, and inform transformative strategies in education. By weaving their stories into our dialogue, we not only advocate for inclusivity but also empower them, recognizing their agency in charting the future of education in Africa.

Over two centuries, Catholic education in Africa, majorly sister-led, has carefully crafted strategic methodologies, demonstrating consistent success in promoting gender-responsive and transformative education. Furthermore, issues of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) have emerged as pivotal in this endeavor. Access to proper WASH facilities is indispensable for the retention and consistent attendance of girls in schools. Many young girls often miss or entirely

 drop out of school due to inadequate sanitation facilities, especially during their menstruation. By integrating WASH initiatives into the educational infrastructure, schools can effectively address and eliminate one of the primary barriers to girls’ education in Africa.

In numerous countries in Africa, Catholic education represents a significant 40 to 60 percent of the total educational services, thereby solidifying its influence on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BPE’s ongoing efforts, inclusive of promoting WASH initiatives, have been instrumental in forging a supportive environment for gender equality and empowerment within the educational sector.

The event also aims to specifically highlight the contribution of Catholic religious sisters in promoting girls’ education and gender-responsive, transformative education. These dedicated women serve not just as educators but also as advocates, delivering accessible education to girls, particularly in marginalized communities. Their commitment extends beyond academic instruction, focusing on a holistic model of development that encompasses spiritual, moral, and social growth. In this way, they leave a transformative impact on their students and society at large.

The event, enriched by a treasury of insights collected from the Catholic education vast network of educational institutions throughout Africa and critical learnings from its recent International Indaba on girls’ education convened in Lusaka, in May 2023, is eager to share BPE’s proven strategies.  Recently, the BPE hosted the “Keep-the-Girls in School” Indaba, a conference centered on the state of girls’ education in Africa especially in the wake the COVID-19 pandemic. This discussion among education policymakers and practitioners from across Africa resulted in targeted strategies for gender-responsive education systems, continuity of learning, and school retention for girls.

The indaba, steered by the girls themselves, underscored BPE’s dedication to fostering their involvement in developing gender-responsive and transformative education. A key outcome of this meeting was the Indaba Girl Declaration, a comprehensive document detailing the core requirements to revolutionize girls’ education. Supported by representatives from the UNESCO SDG 4 Youth Network, selected girl representative from the Bakhita girls schools will present the Indaba Girls Declaration at the event. This presentation aims to influence key stakeholders, particularly political leaders, to take decisive action in transforming girls’ education.

Furthermore, the side event aspires to incorporate thought-provoking perspectives generated from the ongoing transformative education dialogues, giving particular attention to the outcomes of the 2022 UN Transforming Education Summit (TES).

For more information about the Side Event Read more.

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