Home Perspective The Journey of A Mastermind: Yasmine Sherif

The Journey of A Mastermind: Yasmine Sherif


Yasmine Sherif
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Global Fund
New York, USA

Here is a short segment of the full conversation with Ms. Yasmine Sherif. The full article will publish soon. Keep your eyes on.

The InCAP: Yasmine Sherif and Education Cannot Wait (ECW), we all know these two entities are entirely inseparable. What inspired you to engage with this kind of unconventional work?

Yasmine Sherif: We are all inseparable from Education Cannot Wait. Education Cannot Wait is a UN-hosted entity and a movement for Sustainable Development Goal 4: quality education for the 75 million children and youth left furthest behind in brutal conflicts, climate-induced natural disasters, and forced displacement. As a UN-hosted fund and a movement, it is both conventional and unconventional. One does not exclude the other. On the contrary, to make a difference in this world, we need a combination of both.

Most importantly, these 75 million children and youth, of whom 39 million are girls, are part of humanity. Investing in their learning, growth, and development means investing in our shared humanity. We are all interdependent and therefore also responsible for one another. As one humanity, we are all inseparable.

I have dedicated most of my life to international service for those left furthest behind in crisis-affected countries, so this is one strong incentive. I do what I love. As a human rights lawyer, I derive inspiration from advocating and empowering children and young people in crisis to exercise their rights. Quality education is a human right that is a critical foundation for all other human rights. If the young generation is kept illiterate, especially girls and adolescent girls, how can we end discrimination against women? How can we ensure the rule of law, good governance and the whole spectrum of social, economic and cultural rights, if we do not allow the young generation to learn to read and write, address the traumas of their experiences, develop their social and emotional skills and receive a diploma? The lack of education is the biggest barrier to realizing their inherent human rights.

Education Cannot Wait was established at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 after many years of very powerful, collective global advocacy by civil society, UN agencies, and governments. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister of the UK, who is now the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Global Education and the Chair of Education Cannot Waits High-Level Steering Group, played an instrumental leadership role in the creation of Education Cannot Wait. Working with him is very inspiring. He has a brilliant mind and enormous moral courage. His passion for education is unprecedented. Clearly, he and the whole education community inspire me, as do the millions we serve.

When I meet parents, teachers, children, and adolescents, not the least the adolescent girls, in countries like Afghanistan, Chad, or Colombia, I see in their eyes a glimmer of hope. When I watch them speak up for their right to inclusive quality education and when I hear their stories and learn of how they invest in their own education with ECW’s support, I am profoundly inspired by them. I see in them so many future leaders and great professionals, who can make this world a better place.

We must not forget that those who suffer brutal conflicts and forced displacement tend to develop unique capacities of resilience. As a result of their suffering and their will to survive in the harshest of realities, they are often endowed with extraordinary potential. However, this potential requires a good education to fully blossom. We cannot afford to lose their incredible force of life. They are an asset to their communities, their countries, and to the world – provided that they have a chance to nurture and transform their resilience in a safe learning environment and through good education.


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