University students across Canada join forces with TSN’s Kayla Grey, WNBA’s Kayla Alexander & Minister Karina Gould to Rally for Girls Education globally

Press Release


TORONTO, ON (February 12, 2021) - Students from 13 universities and colleges across Canada gathered virtually yesterday afternoon at Right To Play’s “Rally for Girls Education”, supported by Global Affairs Canada, to raise awareness and mobilize Canadians in support of every girl’s right to learn worldwide.

Hosted by TSN’s Kayla Grey, the event featured appearances by WNBA and Canada Basketball player and Right To Play Ambassador, Kayla Alexander, Right To Play CEO, Susan McIsaac, and the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development. The event shone a spotlight on the complex and layered barriers to education that girls face worldwide and also served as the kick-off of a week-long social media challenge.

From February 11-18, 2021 Right To Play is challenging Canadians to post a photo and story on social media of an inspirational woman or girl in their life who has encouraged them to continue their education and engage globally, using #Rally4GirlsEd. Students and alumni of the Canadian universities involved in yesterday’s event can also sign up to the challenge via http://www.righttoplay.ca/rally4girls, where they can join a collegiate team and post to earn points for their school.

Funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, Right To Play is implementing the Gender Responsive Education and Transformation (GREAT) program in Ghana, Mozambique and Rwanda. GREAT is working to improve girls’ learning outcomes and leadership skills by dismantling barriers and strengthening access to quality education through gender-responsive play-based activities and teaching practices.

“We’re very proud and grateful to be working with a partner like Global Affairs Canada,” says Right To Play CEO, Susan McIsaac. “With the ongoing pandemic and continued school closures around the world, we need commitment, innovation and vision to ensure that children and youth - especially girls - can not only continue to access quality education, but also have the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves and realize their rights.”

In many parts of the world, the suspension of classes combined with the economic impact of COVID-19 has seen an increase in child labour, seen girls’ time disproportionately dedicated to household work and their rights threatened by child marriage and early pregnancy—all factors that negatively compound the likelihood of girls and young women returning to school in the long-run.

In response, the GREAT program has adapted activities to keep kids safe and learning. For example, Right To Play is working with the Ministry of Education in Mozambique to create daily play-based educational activities for broadcast on national TV that are aligned to the school curriculum and responsive to the differing needs of girls and boys. The organization is also developing mental health and psychosocial support resources to empower Right To Play-trained teachers and coaches through no- and low-tech solutions, such as spreading messages of child protection and gender rights to the community via socially-distanced megaphone PSAs. GREAT has also provided parents and caregivers with child safety tips through SMS and WhatsApp messages to supplement the work of school- and community-based programs, including the prevention of Child, Early and Forced Marriages and safe return of girls to school.

Although progress has been made to ensure that all girls have access to a quality education, poverty and crisis – including the COVID-19 health crisis – have threatened to roll back hard won gains. This is why Right To Play is asking students and Canadians at-large to get involved, raise their voices in support of this issue, and come together to #Rally4GirlsEd.

“This is critical to us all because girls’ education has wide reaching benefits beyond any one classroom, community or country,” says McIsaac. “When girls are more educated, they marry later, have higher incomes, have a stronger role in decision making, and have better health for themselves and their children. In short, investing in girls’ education will strengthen the economy, reduce inequality and result in better health outcomes. We’ve known this since well-before COVID-19 and we cannot allow the pandemic to derail all of the critical progress already made and all of the positive impact on the horizon.”

Additional Quotes

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 had a direct impact on young women and their right to receive a quality education. The pandemic has also exacerbated the risks they face on a daily basis as schools are more than just a place to learn. Schools often offer girls a safe environment to learn, connect with friends and grow into young adults. We will continue to defend the right of all children, especially the most vulnerable, to go to school and get the education they deserve.” - Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

"It is so important to keep the conversation about access to quality education, especially for young girls, at the forefront to make sure that it is something we are continuously fighting for, even though it might not feel like it directly affects us (...) It is a human right to have education and especially for women, who are our leaders, frankly, in this world." - Kayla Grey, TSN

"I can't even begin to imagine what my life would look like if I’d been denied access to the same schooling as the boys and males. I don't think I would be where I am today. It is so crucial for girls to have access to quality education because we all know that knowledge is power.(…) For the #Rally4GirlsEd Challenge, I’ll be sharing one of my female heroes. Her name is Madame Cossette she was my grade 1/2 teacher. I had her for two years, and Madame Cossette is the reason that I went to Syracuse University and got my degree in education to become a teacher. She was kind, she encouraged us to be creative and always inquire and ask questions. I'm forever thankful to her (…) for the impact that she’s had in my life.” - Kayla Alexander, WNBA, Canada Basketball and Right To Play Ambassador


NOTE TO THE EDITOR:

Time code of speakers' appearances in live event recoding:

02:50 - Right To Play Land Acknowledgement

08:00 - Comments by Right To Play CEO, Susan McIsaac

15:40 - Q&A with Minister Karina Gould

29:45 - All-female panel photo op

30:50 - Comments by Kayla Alexander, WNBA, Basketball Canada & Right To Play Ambassador

37:40 - Gallery view

-30-

About Gender Responsive Education and Transformation (GREAT)

Our work on tele-schooling in Mozambique is part of the Gender Responsive Education and Transformation program. In 2018, Right To Play launched the Gender Responsive Education and Transformation (GREAT) program with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. Active in three countries, Ghana, Mozambique and Rwanda, GREAT uses Right To Play's play-based learning approach to remove barriers to education, especially for girls, and to build teacher capacity to improve learning outcomes.

About Right To Play

Right To Play is a global organization that protects, educates and empowers children to rise above adversity through the power of play. We reached 12 million children around the world last year through in person and remote methods in some of the most difficult and dangerous places on earth to help them stay in school and graduate, resist exploitation and overcome prejudice, prevent disease, and heal from war and abuse. For more information, visit www.righttoplay.ca