September 16, 2019
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Access to Education for Women and Girls

ECOSOC: UN Women

Topic: Access to Education for Women and Girls

Around the world, 129 million girls are out of school, including 32 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67 million of upper-secondary school age. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries. Only 49% of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education. At the secondary level, the disparity is even wider: 42% of countries have achieved gender parity in lower-secondary education, and only 24% in upper-secondary education. Like maternal health, the UN has made equal access to education for women and girls part of its 2015 sustainable development goals.

Documented effects of improving access to education for women and girls include: increased lifetime earnings, higher national growth rates, declines in child marriage rates, decreased child and maternal mortality rates, and decreased child stunting. But in spite of the clear benefits of equitable education, there are still many obstacles to access for women and girls. Poverty, gender-based violence, and societal gender stereotypes are just a few such obstacles. Even when women and girls do have access to education facilities, many schools are unsafe. Others may use gender-biased teaching practices that result in gender gaps in learning and skills development, or that negatively influence women and girls’ decision to stay in school.

This committee will need to consider both access to education facilities as well as the format and content of the educational programming available in those facilities. In particular, the committee may want to address the need for financial investment in education by local governments and communities, the discriminatory gender norms and human rights violations that place barriers in the path to education for women and girls, and gender stereotypes in learning materials, among many other possible avenues of discussion.

Useful Links:

CSW discussion of Sustainable Development Goal #4:
https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-4-quality-education

UNICEF Girls’ Education Programme:
https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education

UNESCO Strategy for Gender Equality In and Through Education:
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000369000

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