Financing Health and Education: Girls Driving Development

This week, world leaders have gathered in New York for the 70th annual meeting of the United Nations. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will see the adoption of the Post-2015 development agenda and the official launch of the Global Goals.

Sarah Beeching organised a side event at the UNGA together with The Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF, UNAIDS and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis. The event was titled Financing Health and Education: Girls driving development and aimed to discuss the need for a more integrated approach towards improving the quality of health and education, and the huge progress that can be made, especially for girls and young women.

The event brought together high-level political representatives, including ministers, heads of agencies, and development partners. Broadcaster and conference host Henry Bonsu, acted as moderator throughout the discussions.

The morning kicked off with introductions from Kathy Calvin CEO of United Nations Foundation, Princess of Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Singer and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador sang passionately to everyone. Few meetings in New York start with such energy! HE Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia had a hard art to follow.

Kathy Calvin spoke of the importance of including girls in the decision-making process 

“A healthy, educated, empowered adolescent is one of the most powerful catalysts for change.”


Following the introductions were a series of three roundtable discussions each comprised of expert panellists.

The first of the roundtables aimed to set the scene and was entitled generating domestic and external sources of funds from public, private and not for profit sectors.

Gordon Brown said that the challenge for the next few years is how we can make health and education work for the betterment of young people

“We are aware that just as health can unlock education, education can unlock health. The new education financing commission is prepared to unlock the potential of both.”



The next roundtable discussion focused on effective collaboration between education and health sectors at country level. The panelists were asked the questions how can we do more and how can we do it better?

Seated around the table were Mark Dybul, CEO of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Qian Tang, Deputy Executive Director, UNESCO, Raymonde Goudou Coffie Ministre De La Sante Et De La Lutte Contre Le Sida, Côte d’Ivoire,
Anne-Marie Descôtes, Director General for Globalisation Development and Partnerships, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander De Croo, Minister of Development Cooperation, Belgium and Dr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Deputy Minister of Health, Liberia.

Dr. Tolbert Nyenswah discussed the impact education has on maternal and child health

“We need to build health and education systems that are resilient to crisis. We know schools cannot achieve their primary mission if students and teachers are not healthy.”


The final roundtable aimed to zero in on specific strategies: social protection and cash transfers.

The panel was comprised of Cynthia McCaffrey, Director and Chief of Staff, UNICEF, Theo Sowa, CEO, African Women’s Development Fund, Jan Beagle, Deputy Executive Director, Management and Governance, UNAIDS, and Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive, Comic Relief.

Kevin Cahill said,

“The notion of a popular mandate to inspire young leaders is really important; they will hold our leaders accountable. This integrated approach and dealing with the whole child is really important.”


Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, and Julia Gillard, Board Chair of GPE summed up. There is no doubt that without a quality education girls will not be able to reach their potential, as individuals, and as part of their communities. Economies will not grow if they do not tap into the potential of half of their populations. They noted that this was the beginning of a dialogue to generate greater collaboration both globally between institutions, but more importantly, at country level. Without these sectors working effectively together, we will not deliver the new Global Goals. Participants left with a renewed energy and commitment to develop these cross-sectoral linkages further.