4 th International Forum of NGOs in Official Partnership with UNESCO: The role of women in fighting poverty (29-30 June 2015)

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1 4 th International Forum of NGOs in Official Partnership with UNESCO: The role of women in fighting poverty (29-30 June 2015) Presentation: Partnership for girls and women s empowerment through education: an overview of UNESCO s efforts 1 Introduction Despite progress made so far, millions of girls and women are still deprived of opportunities for learning, representing a violation of a basic human right the right to education. Discrimination against girls and women is prevalent in most societies around the world. Girls and women s unequal access to and performance in education are both a cause and a result of this discrimination. Factors such as poverty, geographical isolation, early marriage and teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence and other sociocultural norms and practices concerning the role and position of women in society are some of the major causes of gender disparities in education. Furthermore, education policies and systems have frequently failed to reach out to girls and women by allowing unsuitable and discriminatory learning environments, contents and practices that are not always adapted to the particular needs of girls and women. Improving girls and women s access to quality education can have major development impacts. UNESCO s response to gender equality in education Gender Equality and Education are fundamental and inalienable human rights. Gender Equality is one of the overarching priorities of the international development agenda as well as of UNESCO s work, embedded in its efforts to promote education for all. UNESCO efforts to support Member States in addressing the challenges in girls and women s education and promoting gender equality to, in and through education has been focussing on reversing the (negative) effects of legal, institutional, social, cultural, or attitudinal factors that can lead to genderbased discrimination in educational settings. In more concrete terms, UNESCO s strategies and actions have focussed mainly on: Supporting countries to undertake law and policy reviews from a gender perspective; Organizing gender training for education officials, researchers and practitioners; Monitoring of normative instruments related to education with attention to gender; Tracking and measuring progress towards; and Advocacy, awareness-raising and partnership at global, regional and national levels. In particular, high-level advocacy and partnership for girls and women s education have been major part of UNESCO s work at global and regional levels. For example, evidence-based advocacy based on research and case studies from the ground; highlighting the issues related to EFA Goal 5 on gender 1 This is the text version of the PowerPoint presentation made by Maki Hayashikawa, Chief, Section of Learning and Teachers, Division for Teaching, Learning and Content, UNESCO HQs, 29 June 2015.

2 equality during EFA Global Action Week; organizing high-level international events and policy fora on girls and women s education, etc. Global Partnership for Girl s and Women s Education: Better Life, Better Future With deadlines approaching for both the Education for All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is an urgent need to accelerate progress at all levels of education for girls and women, especially at the secondary level, and to make sure that gender equality and respect for the basic human rights of girls and women remain at the core of the post-2015 agenda. In order to address the multiple layers of challenges to girls and women s education, a holistic response is required to tackle enduring gender inequalities in education. In an ever-changing world, innovative and alternative delivery modalities, including use of ICTs and other forms of innovative communication, in both formal and non-formal education have to be promoted. Gender equality in education is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General UNESCO therefore launched the Global Partnership for Girls and Women s Education in May 2011 in order to accelerate access to education and learning opportunities for adolescent girls and women. It was launched at UNESCO Headquarters jointly by the Director General and the United States Secretary of State, H.R. Clinton, on 26 May 2011, with the participation of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. The Global Partnership aims raising awareness and bridging policy and financial gaps regarding girls and women s education and to find collaborative and collective solutions to some of the biggest challenges and obstacles to their education. The Global Partnership, which comes with its sub-theme Better Life, Better Future, addresses two main issues requiring increased attention secondary education, with particular emphasis on the transition period from primary to lower secondary education, and scaling up women s literacy, while ensuring a strong linkages between women s literacy and girls secondary education opportunities. In recognizing that government resources alone are not enough to close the financial gap is supported by a dynamic public-private sector partnership (PPP), and mobilizes non-traditional partners in financing education in order to expand secondary education for girls and women s literacy opportunities and ultimately promote gender equality and women s empowerment. Partners includes: Governments Private sectors and foundations Civil society organizations and NGOs Bilateral and multilateral organizations, and the Media.

3 Etc. Main achievements of the Partnership since 2011 Since its creation, UNESCO has concluded several innovative collaborations with bilateral and private sector partners under the Global Partnership framework, targeting specifically adolescent girls and women in the area of literacy, and the transition from primary to secondary education. In addition, the partnership focuses on the equally important issue of teacher education and teacher training, including through the use of ICT and mobile technologies. Some notable projects launched and implemented under the Global partnership are as follows: - Gender-sensitive Training of Teachers and School Principals for Girls and Women s Access, Participation and Advancement in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Lesotho & Kenya (with GEMS Education) ( ) - Literacy project for Girls and Women in Senegal (with Procter & Gamble) ( ) - Crowd-sourcing Girls Education to Reduce Drop-out rates in Ethiopia & Tanzania (with Packard Foundation) ( ) Further details of these projects are available in UNESCO s website on the Global Partnership. More partners have joined since 2013, which has led to the establishment of the following funds and partnership programme: - UNESCO-Malala Fund for Girls Right to Education: 5 projects ongoing: Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania, & Viet Nam - UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Ensuring girls right to education: All girls access, stay, transition and achieve in education - UNESCO, UN Women, UNFPA and World Bank: Joint Programme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education And two flagship publications have been produced: - The World Atlas of Gender Equality Education (2012), which is now available online as an interactive database (eatals: under the website of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics; and - From Access to Equality: Empowering girls and women through literacy and secondary education (2012) Issues an challenges in promoting gender equality in education

4 Although the benefits of educating girls and women are well understood, unfortunately, education s role as a catalyst for empowerment and gender equality is not as clearly recognized. Major progress has been made in girls primary education, but the achievements have not been translating into progress in secondary education. Despite major efforts to advocate for girls and women s education and gender equality, there persist critical issues that require continued attention. For example, We have no gender issues in education. This is a statement that is still heard widely especially in countries where gender parity has been achieved in primary and often in lower secondary education. The preoccupation with increasing access and measuring quantitative progress in girls education has led to the misunderstanding that gender parity meant gender equality. The challenge of looking beyond the numbers, i.e. moving from access to equality, has not been easy to overcome. Another issue that continue to require much attention is the fact that gender equality tends to be seen as an issue for girls and women, and also for those who are concerned with their education. However, gender equality must be both a goal and a means to achieve an inclusive, just and equal society for women and men, girls and boys. An evolving trend in monitoring gender disparities is the increasing incidence of boys under-performing and dropping out from secondary education, notably in countries of South East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean regions. Gender is not only about girls and women but also about boys and men. In order to ensure a comprehensive approach to gender equality, it must become everyone s business. One of the lessons learnt from EFA Goal 5 is that there was no clear guidance on how to measure gender equality outcomes in education. The lack of clarity or definition on what was meant by achieving gender equality in education by 2015 is often blamed for the inevitable preoccupation on gender parity in the monitoring and reporting of progress by countries. If we want to understand the real impact of education on gender equality, we will need to understand how educational outcomes for girls and women are translating into social outcomes such as employment opportunities, higher earnings, civic participation, ability to exercise rights and freedom, health and general well-being. The question remains as part of the broader question on how to measure and monitor the relevance of education for such outcomes, which will be carried on to the post-2015 education agenda. Conclusion: The way forward for Better Life, Better Future The Global Partnership for Girls and Women s Education has indeed opened up many opportunities and potentials for UNESCO in expanding and strengthening its work to promote girls and women s education and gender equality. It has been an important platform to mobilize not only financial resources but also to galvanize joint actions with both traditional and non-traditional partners and to complement other ongoing initiatives, such as UNGEI and the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). The impact of the Global Partnership is starting to be felt gradually as the projects advances in different countries around the world. However, now in its 4 th year, and in light of the post-2015 education agenda, it is time for the Global Partnership to review its progress and to renew its strategies so as to extend its outreach to new partners and countries and regions. Advocacy will have to be intensified for increased resource mobilization and to convince governments, private sector partners and CSOs, to invest in girls

5 and women s education. And, in order to become an ever more dynamic mechanism for the cause of girls and women s education and gender equality, the Global Partnership will further promote South- South and North-South cooperation in the coming years.

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