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Michael Messenger is the president and CEO of World Vision Canada. David Morley is the president and CEO of UNICEF Canada. Caroline Riseboro is the president and CEO of Plan International Canada.

When we educate and empower children, especially girls, we break cycles of violence and conflict, reduce gender inequality, and promote tolerance and reconciliation.

When we don’t, we risk a future full of violence, conflicts and crises.

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This year’s G7 summit is an opportunity for Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to shape the future by leading the world in ensuring education for all children, especially girls.

We are standing in the wake of the largest wave of young people in history. With the population under the age of 30 in the most fragile and unstable countries about to spike, far too many of this generation are facing bleak, uncertain futures.

We are also witnessing the largest number of refugees and internally displaced people on Earth since the Second World War.

During times of crisis, schools are often the first service to be suspended and the last service to resume. There are 75 million children and youth out of school in 35 crisis-affected countries. And in crises, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school, making them vulnerable to violence, discrimination and exploitation.

Yet these young people are inherently powerful and hold the potential to dramatically remake the world for the better, using innovation and creativity to solve society’s biggest challenges. If the global community commits to providing quality, long-term education to this generation – especially every girl – possibilities for our collective future could be limitless.

But without a significant global financial commitment toward their education, insecurity and crises will only worsen, as will their impact on our global peace and security.

In recent years, less than 2 per cent of humanitarian funding globally has been dedicated to education. Yet when children and families affected by emergencies are asked what they want and need, it isn’t food, water or health care that tops the list. It’s education.

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We must start seeing education as a strategic cost worth paying. An investment in education is an investment in the future and toward our common peace and security. Education can empower everyone – girls and women in particular – to improve the health, well-being and prosperity of entire communities and countries.

That is why Plan International Canada, RESULTS Canada, Right to Play, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada, World Vision and several other Canadian and global organizations are rallying together to call on Mr. Trudeau and other world leaders at the G7 to raise $1.3-billion to reach 3.7 million vulnerable children living in crisis situations with education, with a special emphasis on girls who face additional barriers due to their gender.

Mr. Trudeau has already pledged to make a meaningful commitment to, and investment in, the education of girls in crises as one of Canada’s legacy initiatives at the Charlevoix, Que., summit. But these girls and children need more than words to help them not only survive, but thrive. A significant investment from Canada of $500-million out of the US$1.3-billion global ask would change the course of millions of children’s lives, empower girls who are now out of school and give them back hope for their future. This investment is key to delivering on Canada’s feminist agenda – particularly for the world’s most vulnerable girls.

As the president of this year’s G7 summit, Mr. Trudeau is in a unique position to influence the outcome. A significant financial commitment from Canada toward all girls’ and children’s education in crises is a smart investment in what’s right – the empowerment of an entire generation of girls, of peace builders, who will work to make this world a better place for us all.

The world is looking to Canada for leadership. This is a moment that we cannot allow to pass us by.

Together we have the opportunity to address one of the biggest problems the world is facing today and transform it into the possibility of a brighter, more equal and feminist tomorrow.

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Additional signatories: Bill Chambers, president and CEO of Save the Children Canada; Christina Dendys, executive director, RESULTS Canada; Kevin Frey, CEO of Right To Play International

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