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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

Image of Final Report Click here for the Final Report of the Online Discussion on Education and Training of Women and the Girl-child
(PDF, 247 K)


Welcome to the Beijing + 10 online discussion on Education and Training of Women and the Girl-child sponsored by UNESCO and UNICEF.

Many of you have followed the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action since its inception in 1995, to the review of Beijing+5 in 2000 and now to the review and appraisal of Beijing+10. We now invite you to use this forum to express your views, concerns, experiences, priorities, progress, failures, successes and good practices in planning and implementing policies and actions on education and training of girls and women. Your contributions will inform the debates of the 49th session on the Commission of the Status of Women.

We will focus on a different topic in each of the four weeks that the discussion takes place. For each topic, we invite you to discuss the education and training of girls and women in formal and non-formal education, from early childcare and development to primary, secondary, and higher education, in vocational education and training, literacy and lifelong learning. Your comments may include achievements, constraints, gaps and the way forward.

Education and training of girls and women is a human right and an essential element for the full enjoyment of all other social, economic, cultural and political rights. The Millennium development goals (2000), the EFA and Dakar goals (2000), and the Beijing Platform have consistently placed emphasis on the importance of education in promoting gender equality and the advancement of women.

Yet as we reach the milestone year of 2005, we recognise that the goal of achieving gender parity in primary and secondary education will not be realised by at least 70 countries. The question we need to ask ourselves now, is why? What needs to be done to give this issue the importance and visibility it merits? Let us use this discussion, and the 49th session of the CSW in March 2005 as the golden opportunity to give this agenda new impetus


Background Information

The topics for the discussion are:

Week 1 (January 10-17), Universal access to education, still a challenge for many girls and women

Week 2 (January 17-21), Quality of education and its impact on outcomes

Week 3 (January 24-28), Political and financial commitments of governments and the international community

Week 4 (January 31-February 4), Education and empowerment of women and girls

We encourage participation from members of civil society organizations, bilateral and multilateral and UN agencies, practitioners in the field of education, teachers' unions, women's groups, teachers, students, parents and individuals, including young people.

Your participation in this discussion will contribute to the ten-year evaluation of the situation of girls and women and will enrich the findings of the Beijing+5 appraisal.

Week & Theme Details
Week 1
Universal access to education, still a challenge for many girls and women
(10-17 January 2005)

In spite of the many declarations aiming at making gender parity in education a reality, gender disparities persist throughout the education system. Data on enrolment, retention and transition show that, in many countries, girls and women lag behind boys in early childcare through primary, secondary and higher education and in non-formal and literacy education programmes as well. Many factors have been identified and their impact on gender disparity analysed. We invite your views on the following questions:

  • How important are socio-cultural and religious attitudes and beliefs in keeping girls away from school and women away from attending literacy classes or continuing learning? What solutions have been found to address and correct these problems?
  • Is household poverty a barrier to the education of girls and women? What promising practices have been used to overcome this problem?
  • To what extent are gender specific indicators used to gather sex-disaggregated data for policy and planning?
  • How can the short and medium term solutions be made more realistic and region-specific?
  • Does the management of resources at the school level improve the situation of gender parity and equality in education?
  • Does resource management issues affect the education of women in non-formal education programmes?
  • What have been the successes and failures of using distance learning as a tool to reach the unreached of all ages?
  • What can be done to ameliorate skewed power relations and other factors that negatively affect the empowerment of women and girls and their attainment of necessary life skills?
Quality of education and its impact on outcomes
(17-21 January 2005)

It is not enough to enrol girls and women in education and training programmes. It is equally important that the education they receive, at each step, is of high standard in order to ensure appropriate learning outcomes that form the basis of lifelong learning, and provide knowledge, skills and attitudes for an active citizenship. It is on this basis that education leads to personal development and allows girls and women to manage their lives. This means that there is no quality education without equality. Education must challenge existing power relations and be a basis for attitudinal and behavioural change of both girls and boys, and women and men. What is your experience concerning the following issues:

  • Are curricula and teaching methods sufficiently gender-sensitive? Do they address the importance of gender equality and increase awareness of and contribute to changing gender roles?
  • Is there a marked gender mainstreaming in the curriculum? Are courses in non-traditional female areas available, for example in science and technology? Are girls and women encouraged to aspire to careers at the same level as men? Are there provisions for guidance and counselling of girls?
  • Does the curriculum address in a gender-sensitive manner issue of reproductive health and other specific issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual harassment, violence and early marriage?
  • Does the infrastructure permit the creation of an enabling learning environment for girls and women?
  • Does the presence of female teachers make a difference to the education of girls and women? Are women teachers likely to limit or promote the learning capacity of girls and women? Which levels do women occupy in teaching and administration of education systems?
  • Are teachers trained to be gender-sensitive and to encourage girls and women to pursue education that will lead to a wider career choice and challenge traditional roles in society?
  • Does safety and security at school and learning places affect the attendance and participation of girls and women in education and training? What measures have been taken to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence?
  • Is the health and nutrition of girls a major concern for school authorities? What provisions have been established to meet these needs?
  • Is the community involved in school activities to promote the education of girls and women?
  • Do women learners participate in the design and running of their own educational programmes?
  • Do girls and women benefit from the use of ICT and other modern technology to the same extent as men and boys?
Week 3
Political and financial commitments of governments and the international community
(24-28 January 2005)

Government has the prime responsibility for education and its education policy and budget indicate its level of engagement and determination to achieve the international education goals related to gender parity and equality and women's empowerment. The education plans and policies also provide a roadmap for education practitioners and create an enabling environment in which the right to education can be attained. Governments can work in different areas to improve gender parity and equality in education. What is your experience with the following:

  • Is government personnel generally aware of gender discrimination and the need for special measures to overcome gender disparity?
  • Is government awareness translated into investments in gender-sensitive methodologies and enforcement of laws and regulations?
  • What percentage of the budget is allocated to achieving gender parity and equality in education and to specific education initiatives for girls and women?
  • Do government policies link the education of girls to adult women's education?
  • What is the impact of government policies and management of education systems on the education of girls and women?
  • Does the government collect sex-disaggregated data on education personnel by grade? If so, how is this information used for capacity building and promotion?
  • Does the government target girls and women for financial assistance e.g. through scholarships and grants?
  • Does the government encourage private sector investment and training for girls and women?
  • What indicators exist to measure governments' political and financial commitment to girls and women's education?
  • How are current trends towards an increase in cross-border education affecting girls and women's education?
  • How can existing policy frameworks and planning tools help build stronger political and financial commitment to women's and girls' education?
  • Week 4
    Education and empowerment of women and girls
    (31 January-4 February 2005)

    Education is an essential element of the empowerment of girls and women. A good quality education, designed on the basis of women and girls' immediate and strategic needs, builds women's capacities and prepares them to seize opportunities in the public and private domains. The empowerment of women is crucial to change some of the societal attitudes and behaviours that discriminate against girls and women. The empowerment of women is therefore linked to the empowerment of girls and to the full enjoyment of their rights. What are your views on the following ways of improving the empowerment of girls and women:

    • To what extent have literacy and non-formal education programmes been used to empower women and out-of-school girls?
    • To what extent does the literacy and non-formal education provided for women enable them to be gainfully employed or self-employed to the same extent as men?
    • To what extent has different forms of education contributed to challenging traditional household dynamics and power relations in society?
    • To what extent is the development of national human resources linked to women's non-formal education?
    • To what extent does government's policy on education take into account the conditions and needs of poor and illiterate adult women?
    • To what extent does the education system prepare and influence society to respect the rights of girls and women and accept women in positions of responsibility?
    • How important are girls and women's associations in promoting the education rights of their constituents? Are the numbers sufficient to represent women and are the conditions suitable to produce results?
    • How has education been used to promote women's empowerment within the education system and in the private and public sectors?

    » View archived discussion

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