Gender Inequality in Education

All across the world, girls and women are still much more likely to never get into a classroom than men and boys despite all efforts and tremendous progress that was made over the past few decades.

To support countries in their efforts to fulfill and live up to their promise that by 2030 they will have closed the gender gap, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is disaggregating all sex-related indicators to the highest possible extent. The UIS is additionally producing indices for gender parity and is in the process of developing new indicators for enhanced reflecting inclusion and equity of boys and girls.

The UIS, for example, collects data on a regular basis regarding the percentage of sub-Sahara African schools that have only single-sex toilets and how many female teachers are employed in primary or secondary education schools across the globe. The Institute is additionally tracking male and female in post-secondary education by study direction, especially in technology, science, mathematics, and engineering.

All UIS data form something like a map that shows educational pathways of boys and girls, from pre-primary to post-secondary and tertiary education. The map is a clear indication and comparison of how many girls begin with primary education, for example, how many repeat their grades, the number of drop-outs, or who are making it into secondary education. Additionally, the UIS is working hard to develop new ways of measuring global learning outcomes and of better evaluating the numeracy and reading skills of boys and girls and boys at crucial stages in their education.

Collecting and evaluating these data allows stakeholders, countries, advocacy groups, or engaged citizens action agencies to better develop initiatives and target policies while at the same time benchmarking all sorts of progress toward equality in education and gender parity. There are so many mountains that girls or women have to climb. What a shame.

For UNESCO, gender equality really is a priority all across the world. Gender equality is inextricably linked to UNESCO’s efforts for the promotion of educational rights and supporting all activities to achieve the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The organization’s SDG-4, via the 2030 Education Framework for Action, is aiming to ‘Ensure equitable and inclusive education of quality and to Promote Lifelong Educational Opportunities for all’. UNESCO’s SDG-5 to aims to empower all girls and women and achieve gender equality.

The organization’s “Education 2030” agenda is recognizing that the issue of gender equality really requires an approach that will ‘ensure that boys and girls, and men and women, not just will gain access to education and complete this, but that they will be empowered on an equal level in and via education.’ Strange, isn’t it, that even the British don’t know what it is, chair, chairman, chairwoman, chairperson…?

All across the world, substantial gender gaps are found in access. Learning opportunities and education continuation exist in a large number of settings, generally at the expense of women and girls, though there are regions where boys and men are disadvantaged. Much progress has been made but overall, still many more girls than boys cannot attend school and more than 17 million girls will not be able to ever set foot in a school or a classroom. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) estimates that women account for more than two-thirds of all 750 million adults in the world who don’t have any basic literacy skills. And single women wanting to make it back into the workplace are facing obstacles as well all around the world.

Geographical isolation, poverty, minority status, early marriage and pregnancy, disability, gender-related violence, and traditionally developed attitudes regarding the role and status of women are the most important obstacles that prevent girls and women to exercise their legitimate right to receive and complete an education and benefit to their fullest extent.