Education can change a girl’s life and that of her family, community and society at large. If all women had a primary and secondary education, child marriages and child mortality could fall by 49% and 64% respectively. With just primary education for all women, maternal deaths could be reduced by two-thirds.
To reap these benefits, girls have to stay in school long enough, at least through lower secondary. This is not happening: girls are far less likely than boys to complete primary school, with only 60% of countries achieving parity in primary education and only 38% of countries achieving parity in secondary education. In low-income countries, only 20% have achieved gender parity at the primary level and 10% at the lower secondary level.
These findings are highlighted in UNESCO’s Gender Summary, which analyses data from the 11th annual Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Released in partnership with the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) on International Women’s Day; the Gender Summary calls for girls’ education to be at the forefront of new global education goals after 2015.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said partnerships will be catalytic in overcoming the obstacles to girls’ and women’s education, which include poverty, distance from school, unsafe learning environments and lack of trained female teachers.
“The gender gap in education is completely unacceptable, not just for individuals but for the whole of society. We must work together; international organizations, stakeholders, governments, civil society, and the private sector, to overcome this rampant discrimination and exclusion,” said Ms Bokova.
The upcoming 2014 Global Education and Skills Forum jointly hosted by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, UNESCO, and GEMS Education, in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, is focusing on public-private partnerships in addressing the urgent educational needs of all learners, particularly the most marginalized.
As part of the Forum, held from March 15 – 17 in Dubai, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, will host a plenary session on UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education. Launched in May 2011, the Partnership is aimed at keeping girls in school and scaling up literacy and skills programmes, as an example of what can be achieved through collective action.
“The 2014 Global Education & Skills Forum gives us a unique opportunity to come up with new ideas for partnerships to support marginalized girls and women,” said Ms Bokova. “With UNESCO’s Gender Summary telling us that over 100 million young women in low and lower middle income countries are unable to read a single sentence, the need for innovative partnerships is critical.”