Division for the Advancement of Women

                                    Aide -Memoire


                      International Training Centre of the ILO
                                   Turin (Italy)
                                2 - 6 December 1996


      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

           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

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

      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

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
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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