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Yasmine Sherif: Empowering Through Education, Those Left Furthest Behind

Yasmine Sherif: Empowering Through Education, Those Left Furthest Behind

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Yasmine Sherif, the Executive Director at Education Cannot Wait. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Great to have you here with us today, Yasmine! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Education Cannot Wait?

Yasmine: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations’ Global Fund for Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises. The greatest challenge is the number of 222 million children and adolescents whose education is disrupted in armed conflicts, climate disasters, and refuge versus the amount of funding required in order to provide a holistic, child-centered, quality education. ECW's results thus far number nearly 7 million children and youth who have been reached, in addition to over 30 million due to COVID-19. However, the big number of children and adolescents affected, the growing forced displacement, and protracted conflicts are not matched with the significant financially scaled-up resources.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Yasmine: The desire to serve those left furthest behind and empower them through education. If they are educated, all other SDGs will naturally be realized, such as ending extreme poverty or achieving gender equality. Education is the foundational SDG.

Spiffy: What would you say is the impact of your work?

Yasmine: The reach of millions, actual learning outcomes, governments, the UN and civil society working together to achieve learning outcomes. Our annual results reports show real results and this motivates us and our donors.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent ECW milestone or initiative. What’s the effect on your target community?

Yasmine: We have reached 44 crisis-affected countries, mobilized over a billion US dollars, and provided quality education to 7 million children and youth, while also supporting over 30 million during COVID-19. Our advocacy has become global across all continents and media outlets. The UN Secretary-General’s Transformative Education Summit this year shows a growing commitment to education or SDG4.

Spiffy: This has been very enlightening; is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before we sign off?

Yasmine: Education is the very foundation for all other SDGs and all human rights. Without SDG4, nothing else can logically be achieved. Instead of scattering resources across different SDGs, invest in education - the foundation.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Yasmine—it’s been an honor!

Yasmine Sherif is the Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait - the UN's Global Fund for Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crisis (ECW). A human rights lawyer (LLM Stockholm University 1987) with over 30 years of professional experience, she joined the United Nations in 1988 and has worked in conflict-affected countries in Africa, Asia, Balkans, Middle East, as well as in New York and Geneva. Yasmine has also worked in international NGOs and is the author of The Case for Humanity: An Extraordinary Session. (First published on the Ladderworks website on DATE.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.