Division for the Advancement of Women Aide -Memoire EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND LIFELONG LEARNING OF WOMEN International Training Centre of the ILO Turin (Italy) 2 - 6 December 1996 Introduction The Division for the Advancement of Women is convening an Expert Group Meeting on Vocational Training and Lifelong Learning of Women, which will place at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin (Italy), 2 - 6 December 1996. The Expert Group Meeting will contribute to the discussion of the theme "Education", one of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). In the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women will consider "Education" as a priority theme at its forty-first session in March 1997. I. Background The Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) identified "education and training of women" as one critical area of concern and defined five strategic objectives: ensure equal access to education; eradicate illiteracy among women; improve women's access to vocational training, science and technology and continuing education; develop non-discriminatory education and training; allocate sufficient resources for and monitor the implementation of educational reforms. The Commission, having considered education in 1995 with an emphasis on the eradication of illiteracy and achievement of universal primary education for girls as well as on the removal of gender bias from education, will focus at this stage on technical and vocational training of girls and women, the transition from school to the labour market and women's preparation for gainful employment as well as on lifelong learning. A competent and flexible work force that can acquire new skills as economies change, is a necessary prerequisite for economic and social development. The feminization of employment has been one of the most important economic changes of the past decade in terms of both the rapid influx of women into the paid labour force and the patterns of employment. 42% of the world's women aged 15 and over are economically active. It is estimated that the participation rate of women will approximate those of men in many countries by the year 2000. Employment and census data continue to underestimate the level of women's labour force participation, particularly in developing countries where women work in the informal sector or in subsistence production. Gender disparities in women's access to science and technology and vocational and skill training have become more visible in light of these developments. External obstacles linked to the socio-cultural context and labour market rigidity and internal barriers related to the vocational training system prevent women from entering technical and technological training and employment. The first obstacle is the low level of general education of many women, in particular low levels of literacy and numeracy skills, which may require compensatory general education programmes. Low female enrollment in secondary, post secondary and other vocational education, in particular in commercial, technical and agricultural fields are further impediments. II. Objectives The meeting will examine existing vocational and educational policies with regard to the general labour market conditions for women and define their gender dimension, keeping in mind the differences between high and low growth countries, developing, transition and industrialized countries. The Expert Group Meeting will also consider the wider issue of lifelong learning, with regard to the upgrading of skills, ongoing acquisition of knowledge and skills beyond those acquired during youth. Lifelong learning includes knowledge and skills gained in formal education and training as well as learning that occurs in informal ways. Expert Group Meeting will consider the following topics: * make an inventory of various forms of training - vocational, skill, enterprise-based training and training on the job - for women and girls to meet the needs of a changing socio-economic context; identify skills that need to be developed; * diversify vocational and technical training for girls and women in a variety of technical fields and in management; * identify training possibilities for women in the informal and formal sector, taking into consideration the linkages and frequent transition between both sectors; * identify possible policy measures and actors responsible for providing various types of vocational and technological training (government, private sector, trade unions, non-governmental organizations); discuss possible incentives to be offered to the various actors in order to create a favourable environment; address the issue of funding for vocational training and donor support as well as educational planning; * discuss notable reforms and innovative approaches to women's access to science and technology and vocational training; As discussions evolve in the course of preparations for the Expert Group Meeting, there may be a refocussing of issues and reformulation of some objectives. III. Methods of Work The Expert Group Meeting will look into the various topics and work out policy recommendations to be forwarded to the forty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1997. Experts will be invited to prepare inputs on specified issues or case studies. The Expert Group Meeting will organize into smaller working groups based on the major issues identified. IV. Profile of Participants The Expert Group Meeting will be attended by 8-10 experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as observers from Governments, organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations will provide travel and daily subsistence allowance for the experts. In selecting the experts, the criteria of geographical balance will be respected. The participants will be drawn from a variety of fields and include experts who have published on the various topics from an international perspective, experts from donor agencies, research and training institutes and non-governmental organizations, practitioners and policy makers. V. Documentation The documentation for the meeting will include a paper prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women outlining the major issues to be discussed and inputs prepared by the experts on the various topics identified. Observers will be invited to contribute inputs from their own perspectives. The Expert Group Meeting will be conducted in English. The documentation will also be in English. For further information please contact: Mr. John Mathiason, Deputy Director Division for the Advancement of Women/ Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development United Nations 2, United Nations Plaza Room DC2-1250 New York, NY 10017 USA Tel: (212) 963-3171 Fax: (212) 963-3463
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Date last updated: 06 December 1999 by DESA/DAW
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