Being born a girl can be a life sentence of inequality and injustice. Girls and women are subject to multiple forms of discrimination in all spheres of their lives, including in and through education. In many contexts, they are less likely than boys to go to school, their educational performance is often unequal compared to that of boys and men, and in turn, these missed opportunities generate more inequality. To increase awareness and galvanize new resources for girls’ and women’s education, more innovative partnerships are needed with stronger funding, expertise, and outreach.
Towards a Solution
The UNESCO Malala Fund for GirlsRight to Education was established in 2012 following the brutal assassination attempt against Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager and activist for girls’ education. It is part of the ”Better Life, Better Future” Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, aiming to expand girls’ access to quality and gender- responsive education and ensure safe learning environments, especially in countries affected by conflict and disaster. Pakistan initially committed 10 million USD to the Fund and more than 700,000 USD has been mobilized from other donors, including annual support from CJ Group, a South Korean conglomerate.
The Fund aims to 1) expand access to education for girls and women, especially those hardest to reach and affected by conflict and disaster; 2) improve the quality and relevance of education, ensuring that content, teaching practices, learning processes and environments are gender-sensitive; and 3) strengthen policy and capacity to ensure safe learning environments. It is helping countries to achieve equal, inclusive and just societies and advance the transformative development agenda outlined in the SDGs, especially SDG 4 on quality education and SDG 5 on gender equality.
To date, 10 countries have been supported by the Fund and benefited from South-South Cooperation, including Cambodia, Egypt, Guatemala, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam. The Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education provides opportunities for knowledge-sharing and best practices on strengthening girls’ access to quality and gender-responsive education and on ensuring safe learning environments. In the United Republic of Tanzania, for example, more than 2,500 girls benefited from the creation of safe spaces in 40 secondary schools, and 120 teachers and 620 students were trained on the management of these spaces using tools developed by UNESCO. Eighty-two teachers were also trained in gender-responsive pedagogy, human rights education, anti-bullying and sexual and reproductive health education. In these sites, there has been increased retention observed among girls through reductions in teenage pregnancies.
In Mozambique, more than 50 technicians (80 per cent female) have been trained in family literacy and over 580 young women, mothers, caregivers, and parents (95 per cent) have built literacy, language and numeracy skills. Thirteen classes implement regular literacy programmes, benefiting around 475 learners (71 per cent female). In Egypt, UNESCO is enhancing the literacy skills of 940 women and girls and building their life skills for health, livelihoods and citizenship engagement through Community Learning Centres (CLCs). A Training of Trainers programme has been piloted and finalized, and 60 literacy facilitators have been trained from four governorates.
The project has also developed sustainable knowledge platforms, such as the learning Management Platform that includes digitised syllabus for secondary schools installed at the UNESCO/SAMSUNG digital school and accessible for students from 4 secondary schools (Arash, Emanyata, Loliondo, and Soitsambu) in Ngorongoro) in the United Republic of Tanzania. It has also led to policy reforms, through mainstreaming gender in education planning, management and delivery, and supporting gender norms changes through media interventions. In Viet Nam for example, an Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Education Sector for the period 2016-2020 has been developed and approved by the Ministry of Education and Training. Recently in March 2018, an agreement was signed with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) an additional USD 3.4 million project to support national capacity building to realize girls’ right to education in Pakistan’s Punjab province and Gilgit-Baltistan, through interventions targeting education officials, community leaders, teachers and parents.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.a, 4.c, 5.2, 5.3
Countries/ territories involved: Cambodia, Egypt, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam
Supported by: Pakistan and the CJ Group
Implementing entities: Varies depending on the country, and includes ministries of education, women, health and labour at central, provincial and district levels; NGOs and civil society partners including associations of women, youth, and particular groups (such as indigenous populations); educational institutions including schools, community learning centres, and other non-formal education structures; and media broadcasting agencies including community-based radios for advocacy and community outreach
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2012- Present
Name: Ms. Justine Sass, Chief, Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality, UNESCO