HH Sheikha Jawaher-1602144902711
Sheikha Jawaher speaks at the virtual forum. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi — wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah — has called on the international community to make education of refugee girls a top priority during a recent virtual meeting organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Sheikha Jawaher, who is also an Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR and Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), addressed a private, all-women virtual panel session organised ahead of the unveiling of the overall winner of the 2020 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award recently by UNHCR, titled ‘Keeping refugee women and girls safe’. The event was organised to draw attention to the challenges facing displaced women and girls.

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She said: “Educating girls and women changes the course of an entire society. Through our philanthropic and women’s support organisations, we have spared no effort to continue to offer support to refugee girls and women in every way possible. Let us continue to work on initiatives that raise awareness among refugee communities about the benefits of education. Women and children affected by the exceptional circumstances of their societies account for the highest percentage of the global refugee population. We must all share the responsibility of educating women around the world. By supporting them with education, we elevate their potential to rebuilding their lives … and lay the foundations for building a just, equitable and sustainable future for all nations around the world,” she underlined.

Poor education

According to a UN report, the percentage of refugee girls receiving elementary education is below 23 per cent as compared to 84 per cent globally while those receiving higher education are estimated to be around 1 per cent compared to 34 per cent worldwide. The report also revealed that a high percentage of refugees who do not receive education reside in low- and middle-income communities, which makes international support a key factor in advancing refugee education.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Jawaher also talked about TBHF’s projects that have reached more than 3 million individuals in 24 countries living in poor conditions due to escalating conflicts and crisis in their home countries.

Humanitarian awards

At the same forum, Gillian Triggs, Assistant Secretary General, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR, announced the overall winner of the 2020 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award. “Among the many challenges posed to women and girls during Covid-19 has been access to education. Around 1.6 billion children have not been able gained access to education from time to time over these last few months,” Triggs continued, adding, “the great fear of UNHCR is that refugee children and children in families that are displaced will have dropped out and will not return to school.”