Canada led the unveiling of a historic $3.8-billion investment in girls’ education at the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec Saturday, but was unable to convince all countries, including the United States, to join in.
Canada, Britain, Germany, the European Union and Japan will partner with the World Bank on the initiative, which is being called the single largest investment in education for women and girls in conflict and crisis situations ever. However, the U.S., France and Italy will not fund the initiative.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while all G7 leaders agreed on the importance of education for women and girls in the joint communique, not every government wanted to put up money for Saturday’s announcement.
“We encouraged and reached out to all G7 partners to … allocate new funding to that cause,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters after the leaders’ summit concluded Saturday in Charlevoix, Que.
“All of us were able to sign the agreement that we would move forward on women and girls in crisis - it’s just some were able to allocate direct dollars.”
International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau also downplayed questions about the lack of support from all G7 countries, saying those who did not provide funding for the initiative are already making significant announcements in the areas of education.
At time of publication, the White House did not respond to a query asking why the U.S. did not provide new money for the girls’ education announcement.
Speaking on background, a French official said France supports the commitment to girls’ education but already committed 200-million euros to the cause earlier this year through another global initiative.
Saturday’s announcement far surpassed the U.S.$1.3-billion Canadian development organizations were urging G7 leaders to commit to girls’ education in the lead up to the summit. They were thrilled with the outcome, especially Canada’s commitment of $400-million over three years to the initiative.
“We’re singing together,” said David Morley, President of UNICEF Canada.
They described an emotional build up during the final hours before the announcement Saturday. The government even delayed the press conference as more money continued to roll.
“When it hit 3.8-billion, this was incredible. We were in tears,” said Caroline Riseboro, president of Plan International Canada.
Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima urged the U.S., France and Italy to support the investment.
“We’re pleased to see the Canada-led initiative address some of the barriers that keep women and girls in conflict situations from receiving a quality education. The rest of the G7 countries should commit to strengthening the initiative, and we urge them to go even further,” Ms. Byanyima said.