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Education and Training of Women and the Girl-child
Sponsored by UNESCO and UNICEF
10 January � 4 February 2005
Moderated by UNESCO

Background Information

The actions needed from governments and their partners to promote, protect and implement women’s and girls’ right to education are outlined under two Strategic Objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action: Strategic Objective B: Education and Training of Women and Strategic Objective L: the Girl-child.

The importance of gender parity and equality in primary and secondary education and of women’s empowerment was further emphasised in 2000 with the adoption of the Education for All Goals. (Dakar Framework for Action and the Millennium Development Goals Millennium Development Declaration).

According to the 2003/4 EFA Global Monitoring Report, Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality, and The State of the World's Children 2004 - Girls, Education and Development many countries are at a serious risk of not achieving the goal of gender parity by 2005 endangering at the same time the possibility of fulfilling the gender equality goal by 2015. The year 2005 will, thus, be a milestone year in terms of creating further momentum for reaching gender parity that constitutes the necessary stepping-stone for creating wider opportunities for gender equality in societies around the world.

The five-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action, otherwise known as the Beijing +5 outcome document adopted by the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, highlights achievements and obstacles to implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. These are:


  1. Increased awareness is one of the most valuable means of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
  2. Increased enrolment and retention for girls in primary and, to a lesser extent, secondary and tertiary education.
  3. Increased participation of girls and women in non-formal education and enhanced attendance in science and technology.
  4. Increased attention to the health of the girl child, including the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents.
  5. Improvements in legislative reforms, in an increasing number of countries, to protect girls against sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, involvement of children in armed conflict, the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
  6. Measures undertaken in all regions to initiate alternative education and training systems to reach women and girls in indigenous communities and other disadvantaged and marginalized groups.


  1. Persistence of poverty, discriminatory attitudes towards women and girls, negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls, as well as negative stereotyping of girls and boys.
  2. Lack of political will and commitment and insufficient allocation of financial and human resources to improve educational infrastructure and undertake educational reforms.
  3. Insufficient national mechanisms to implement policies and programmes for the girl child.
  4. Persisting gender discrimination and bias, including in teacher training, persistent use of gender stereotypes in educational materials and a gender insensitive environments that are not conducive to learning.
  5. Inappropriate design and application of structural adjustment policies, which has had a particularly severe impact on the education sector (e.g. declining investment in education infrastructure).

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