In recent months, education in Myanmar has dominated headlines. A new law to reform Myanmar's outdated education system was introduced to train students to be critical thinkers and law abiding citizens. But the law has also faced significant criticism, because it undermines the autonomy of universities and fails to recognise the formation of student and teacher unions.
At the end of the invigorating and stimulating three day Skoll World Forum I met with Kennedy Odede, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, (SHOFCO) and Kibera School for Girls. Our meeting was inspiring and poignant and echoed many themes I had heard throughout the conference regarding the importance of girl's education. It seems fitting that I tie my interview with Kennedy to these issues in this article.
More and more, we are hearing about the convergence of health and education. You can't learn if you are out of school sick. Lack of education leads to poverty and in turn the inability to access healthcare. To lead productive lives, people need both health and education: the two are cause and effect.
Today, history is made. Malala Yousafzai becomes the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, standing shoulder to shoulder with illustrious Laureates past Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Theresa.
Britain's greatest Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson wrote in her autobiography: "For me, disability has not been about overcoming things." Now a Parliamentarian and campaigner in the House of Lords, the 16-time Paralympic medal winner credited her success to a loving and supportive upbringing...
Growing numbers of people are becoming aware - and becoming angry - of injustices that are based simply on sex, both in the UK and worldwide. Along with high profile celebrity interventions, social media campaigns driven by young people are bringing these issues to the fore, while on issues such as Female Genital Mutilation, taboos that have long remained intact are being broken. Girls' and women's rights are on the radar of politicians, too.
Despite the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to two people this year, the Internet still seems to be solely focused on Malala's achievement, whilst almost completely ignoring the fact that Kailash has done a lot of impressive work himself (evidently so, if he's been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it).
2014 marks my tenth year attending the CGI. When former US President William J. Clinton first launched the initiative back in 2005, it broke down many of the silos that existed within the development community. Policy makers, academics, and private sector leaders began to have honest discussions. Relationships began, and partnerships emerged.
The lesson here is that child marriage does not "only" affect fourteen million girls a year; the consequences are far reaching. Early and forced child marriage not only violates the universal declaration of human rights, but it also prevents us from having an inclusive and prosperous global economy. Something that even the most conservative economist or demanding shareholder can agree is bad news, indeed.
In more than two decades in the charity sector, I've been involved in a lot of campaigns about a lot of different issues. I've spent my professional life fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable children in the world and in that time we've take many strides forward in improving healthcare, sanitation and education systems. But it's rare that I've felt so optimistic about the potential for change as I do about the chance we have in the coming months and years to get it right for the world's girls.
If we can reduce the instances of forced marriage overseas, I believe the trend will be reflected here. But it will take time: and that's why, while we welcome the move to criminalise the practice on home turf, we must recognise that ending it is something that will happen over years, not overnight.
Education is something that most of us in the UK take for granted. We go to nursery as toddlers, move through primary and secondary education before deciding whether college and university are for us. Most of us even grumble about it, complaining about homework, early mornings, the lack of free time. But if we didn't have this opportunity, our lives would be completely different.
On par with the infamous speeches made by her own stated heroes, from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Malala voiced with all the courage and conviction of an emerging world leader the simple, harsh truths that millions of women and girls throughout the centuries have died - and continue to die - to make heard...