On February 11 at United Nations Headquarters, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne Nason, launched the Government of Ireland’s “Drive for 5” campaign—a global campaign that supports and advocates for the education of adolescent girls.
Keough-Naughton Institute Faculty Fellow Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, Thomas J. & Kathleen M. O'Donnell Professor of Irish Studies, was invited to the campaign launch as the special guest of Ambassador Nason, who spoke at Notre Dame last April.
Other guests included Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, now Chair of the Elders, and Bono, musician and co-founder of the ONE campaign.
At the launch, Ambassador Nason said that 130 million girls worldwide do not attend school—a number she described as “one of the great injustices of our time.” She cited Ireland’s experience in moving from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the most highly developed, all in the space of only two generations. This transformation, she said, can be attributed to the introduction of free secondary education in the 1960s.
“It was simply revolutionary and particularly for girls, and we have seen the results of such investment.”
The “Drive for 5” initiative calls for governments around the world to commit to five transformative actions:
- Guarantee that every girl receives 12 years of free quality education;
- Provide a supportive school environment through gender-sensitive curriculums, mentoring, and menstrual hygiene facilities;
- Strengthen teacher training;
- Ensure that every girl is safe from violence in school and on the journey to and from school;
- Keep girls healthy and in school through adequate water, sanitation, nutrition, and hygiene facilities.
Meeting these goals, Ms. Byrne Nason said, will help propel girls—and women—out of poverty and inequality. “It’s not about charity but investment,” she added.
The Irish Government has committed €250 million over the next five years towards global education.
Reflecting on her participation in the launch, Prof. Nic Dhiarmada said: “I am thrilled to have witnessed the launch of the Drive for 5 campaign. I am proud to be a citizen of a country that values not only education within its own borders but is committed to education worldwide—a commitment that recognizes the great benefits and transformative effects education provides to lives both personally and collectively.”
A video of the Drive for 5 launch is available HERE. It concludes with a moving and inspirational performance by three groups: Music Generation (a young persons’ traditional Irish music group), the Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, and the UN Choir—a performance that earned a standing ovation from Bono.
Pictured left to right: John Concannon, Vice President NUI Galway/Liz McConnell, Kylemore Trust/Briona NicDhiarmada/Bono/Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland Permanent Representative to UN