As Malala Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, Farah Mohamed leads on guiding and expanding the organisation's work to ensure that all girls have the opportunity to learn for 12 years. Prior to joining, she served as founder and CEO of G(irls)20, a social enterprise dedicated to girls' education and economic participation. Farah also held senior leadership positions at The Belinda Stronach Foundation, VON Canada and worked for several Canadian politicians.
Of the 65 million refugees in the world today, more than half are children. 80% of them are out of school — the majority are girls. Without access to quality education, their hopes for a better future slip away.
A girl should not have to leave her dreams behind when she flees her home. That’s why young girls from Colombia to Kurdistan living as IDPs and refugees are fighting for their education.
They know finishing school is their best chance to earn a steady wage, lift their families out of poverty and help rebuild their communities and countries.
But high fees, dangerous commutes, lackluster facilities and few qualified teachers make it difficult for girls in conflict areas to go to school. Of the two and a half million refugee adolescents of secondary school age, nearly two million do not attend school. And of those that do, most won’t graduate.
Research shows that by educating girls, countries would cut their risk of conflict in half. Populations would be healthier. And millions of educated girls, means more working women with the potential to add up to $12 trillion USD to global growth.
Yet, funding for education is less than half of where it needs to be to see every child in school. We need leaders to recognise that ensuring 12 years of free, safe and quality education for every girl is the best investment they can make in our world’s future.
Governments in both developing and donor countries have not prioritised girls’ education. In recent years, funding has either flatlined or decreased. Malala Fund is advocating for leaders at every level — local, national and international — to increase their education budgets and fully fund multilateral mechanisms like Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait.
Through Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network, we also support local education activists working to break down barriers faced by girls affected by crisis. In Lebanon, Nayla Fahed, is using her grant to develop STEM e-learning programmes for Syrian refugee girls. Arman Rahmatullah, is recruiting female teachers to work in rural schools in Afghanistan.
We call these activists “champions” because they are doing incredible work. But the fight for girls’ education won’t be won by these activists alone. We need everyone to contribute to our work and accelerate progress toward seeing every girl in school. We need engineers and academics to lend their expertise to improve systems that hold girls back. We need businesses leaders to leverage company resources to find creative ways to involve more girls in their work. And we need governments to come through with funding.
Girls are more than just statistics. They are the faces of our future. Giving every girl — in refugee camps and around the world — the tools she needs to learn and lead will make our world stronger. And a stronger world, starts with an investment in girls’ education.