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Women and Girls’ Education "It is a Right, Make it Right!. Global Action Week 2 - 8 May 2011. “Empowering girls and women through quality education is the smartest investment for breaking the poverty cycle and achieving social justice.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. 1.

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Women and Girls’ Education

"It is a Right, Make it Right!

Global Action Week

2 - 8 May 2011

“Empowering girls and women through quality education is the smartest investment for breaking the poverty cycle and achieving social justice.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO


Key messages 1
Key Messages (1)

  • Education is a fundamental right, for all girls and boys, women and men alike, and enshrined as such in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Educating women and girls is the best investment that countries can make to boost human development. It is the key to empowerment.

  • Governments have made significant strides towards gender parity, particularly in primary education. However, progress has been insufficient and uneven. Strong gender disparities remain and are even greater at secondary level.

Key messages 2
Key Messages (2)

  • Post-primary levels of education have the greatest benefits for women’s empowerment, but also pose major challenges.

  • Severe disparities remain in youth and adult literacy.

  • Gender-based violence has devastating educational and psychological consequences.

Education is a fundamental right
Education is a fundamental right

  • Equal access to educational opportunities is the foundation for equal life chances.

  • While cultural and social factors largely influence the interactions between men and women, the international community has committed to ensuring that both sexes are treated equally.

  • However, gender biases and discrimination persist in many countries and deprive millions of women of their basic rights.


Ministerio de Educación

The key to empowerment
The key to empowerment.

  • Female education has broad and intergenerational benefits for girls and women themselves, but also for their families, communities and society at large.

  • It increases household income, favours women’s employment, improves child and maternal health, and limits the spread of HIV and AIDS, among other benefits.

  • Educated women are more aware of their rights and entitlements, and more likely to resist violence, send their children to school and participate in political meetings.

Female education has a multiplier effect on human development
Female education has a multiplier effect on human development

  • The education dividend could have saved 1.8 million young lives in sub-Saharan Africa




Sub-Saharan Africa, 2008

4.4 million children died before the age of 5 in 2008





If all mothers had primary education that number could have been reduced to 4.2 million


Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 births)


And if all mothers had secondary education that number could have been reduced to 2.6 million





Level of education of the mother

Knowledgecentre Literacy Dutchspeakers (KAN) - developmentNetherlands

Sake Rijpkema

Significant strides towards gender parity
Significant strides towards gender parity development

  • Girls have been the main beneficiaries of the substantial increases made in primary enrolments since 1999.

    • The strongest advances happened in the Arab States, South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – the regions that started the decade with the largest gender gaps.

    • If these regions still had the gender parity levels of 1999, 18.4 million fewer girls would be in primary school.

  • Once in primary school, girls are often less likely to drop out or repeat than boys.

  • When they complete the primary cycle , girls generally have the same chances as boys of making the transition to secondary education.

Insufficient and uneven progress
Insufficient and uneven progress development

  • Strong gender disparities remain and are even greater at secondary level.

    • Parity would mean 3.6 million more girls in primary school

  • The 2005 target for achieving gender parity in primary and secondary education has been missed.

    • 69 countries still to achieve gender parity at primary level

    • Only about a third of all countries with data have achieved gender parity in secondary school

  • Many countries are not on track to eliminate gender inequalities in education by 2015.

    Of countries that had not achieved gender parity and had the data needed for a projection to 2015:

    • In primary: most are moving in the right direction, but 38 will fall short of the target.

    • In secondary: only 14 are on track to eliminate their gender disparities by 2015

  • Ms Shufiya Akter with 12 years old Laboni in class two at "Unique Child learning Center "  Bangladesh - GMR Akash

    Post primary education greatest benefits and major challenges
    Post-primary education: "Unique Child learning Center "  greatest benefits and major challenges

    • Returns to female education are higher at post-primary levels, from both an economic and a social point of view.

      For example, female secondary education is associated with:

      • higher child vaccination and survival rates

      • better antenatal care

      • better understanding of HIV and other major diseases

    • The period of adolescence is often a turning point for women’s empowerment. However, during their adolescence, girls are more vulnerable and face a distinct set of barriers to education and in particular formal secondary schooling, including higher school fees, early marriage and security concerns.

    • At tertiary level, the participation of men and women is strongly associated with the level of national wealth. While women are overrepresented in tertiary education in relatively richer countries and regions, they continue to be disadvantaged in others, like South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

    School children in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya "Unique Child learning Center "  

    D. Willetts

    Severe disparities in youth and adult literacy
    Severe disparities "Unique Child learning Center "  in youth and adult literacy.

    • Globally, women account for two-thirds of the 796 million illiterate adult population. This is a global challenge that continues to threaten the chances of more than half-a-billion girls and women to succeed in life.

      • The share of illiterate women has remained virtually the same over the past 20 years (63-64%).

      • Almost three in four female illiterates in the world are found in 11 countries: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria and Pakistan.

    • Young people and adults who never attended formal schools or dropped out prematurely depend on non-formal education opportunities being available and accessible so that they might gain the literacy, numeracy and skills they need.

    Women at school in Timor Leste "Unique Child learning Center "  

    Katy Anis

    Gender based violence devastating consequences
    Gender-based violence: "Unique Child learning Center "  devastating consequences

    • Such violence can take diverse forms – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or psychological – and be perpetuated by different actors within and outside the school environment, such as teachers, other students or even parents.

    • In situations of armed conflict, rape and other forms of sexual violence have been used as a war tactic, a weapon to inflict fear and terror and destroy family and community ties, as well as a means of humiliation.

    • It has left millions of girls and women with severe psychological trauma that negatively affects their learning potential and their entire life.

    Palestinian girl checking a torn up book in front of her "Unique Child learning Center "  

    school's damaged hall way in east Gaza school

    Eman Mohammed

    Join your forces with UNESCO and the Global Campaign for Education during the Global Action Week.

    Together, let’s make the difference for women’s and girls’ education.

    We Count on your Support!