Education and gender equality

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO and inextricably linked to its efforts to promote the right to education and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through the Education 2030 Framework for Action, SDG 4 aims to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and SDG 5 to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.’

The Education 2030 agenda recognizes that gender equality requires an approach that ‘ensures that girls and boys, women and men not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education.’

Large gender gaps exist in access, learning achievement and continuation in education in many settings, most often at the expense of girls, although in some regions boys are at a disadvantage.  Despite progress, more girls than boys still remain out of school - 16 million girls will never set foot in a classroom (UNESCO Institute for Statistics) - and women account for two thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills. 

Poverty, geographical isolation, minority status, disability, early marriage and pregnancy, gender-based violence, and traditional attitudes about the status and role of women, are among the many obstacles that stand in the way of women and girls fully exercising their right to participate in, complete and benefit from education.