Promoting Gender Equity in Education Worldwide

Jul 8 2024

Promoting Gender Equity in Education Worldwide

Shahrukh Khan : Director of Business Development
Shahrukh Khan

Director of Business Development

Close the Gap: Why Gender Equity in Education Matters

Gender equity in education is a crucial goal for achieving inclusive and sustainable development globally. Ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, have equal access to educational opportunities can lead to broader social and economic benefits. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the 2020-2030 Decade of Action pledge the global community to attain quality education (Goal 4) and gender equality (Goal 5) by 2030. The G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meeting this summer in the UK have renewed their commitments to supporting gender equality and girls’ education, augmenting those they made in 2018 and 2019.

However, achieving these agendas and promises requires not only mobilizing adequate support and resources but also establishing effective methods for measuring and evaluating progress.

This blog delves into the importance of gender equity in education, the barriers that hinder its progress, and the role of various technologies and initiatives in promoting an inclusive learning environment.

Gender Equity and Gender Equality in Education

When discussing gender equity, people often talk about gender equality interchangeably, but the two terms have distinct meanings in the context of education. Gender equality refers to the state in which individuals of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. In education, this means that boys and girls including non-binary and gender non-conforming students, should have the same access to educational resources, opportunities, and outcomes. This includes equal access to schools, learning materials, teachers, and extracurricular activities. It also means that all students should be treated with the same respect and that their achievements should be recognized equally, without discrimination or bias based on their gender.

Gender equity, however, transcends the notion of sameness inherent in gender equality. It involves the provision of resources and opportunities that account for the different needs and circumstances of individuals based on their gender. For instance, gender equity in education may include creating programs that specifically support female students at risk of dropping out due to early marriage or pregnancy. It might also include providing safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ students or offering mentorship programs for girls in STEM fields where they are underrepresented.

Despite progress in recent decades, significant gender disparities in education persist. According to UNESCO:

  • 132 million girls worldwide are not attending school.
  • Two-thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills are women. 
  • Only 1% of the poorest girls in low-income countries will complete secondary school.

While gender equality aims to ensure that everyone has the same starting point and opportunities, gender equity acknowledges that different groups may require different levels of support to achieve fair outcomes. This approach recognizes that systemic barriers and biases have historically disadvantaged certain genders, particularly females. Therefore, equity-focused initiatives strive to level the playing field by addressing these disparities directly.

Both gender equality and gender equity are essential for creating an educational system that supports the full development of all learners. Gender equality ensures that no one is left behind due to discriminatory practices, while gender equity ensures that individual needs and circumstances are considered, thus enabling every student to reach their full potential. Together, these concepts promote a more inclusive, just, and effective educational environment, paving the way for a society where everyone can contribute equally and thrive.

Here’s a closer look at some of the specific challenges hindering gender equity in education throughout various countries.

1. Deep-Rooted Gender Stereotypes:

Traditional beliefs that prioritize boys’ education or view girls as primarily homemakers remain prevalent in many cultures. This can lead to early marriage and childbearing. According to UNICEF, globally one in five girls are married before the age of 18, often leading to them dropping out of school. 

Also, societal expectations can steer girls away from STEM fields. A UNESCO report states that only 35% of all students enrolled in STEM fields are women

2. Economic Barriers and Poverty:

Poverty is a significant barrier as families with limited resources may prioritize boys’ education over girls. According to UNESCO, in sub-Saharan Africa, for every 100 boys of primary school age out of school, there are 123 girls denied the right to education. According to research, 92% of girls never complete secondary education. For many young women, pursuing higher education or college remains an unattainable luxury. Those from lower-income families lack the financial resources to cover tuition fees. Consequently, they often experience pressure to start earning income immediately after completing secondary school to support their families.

3. Social and Caste Barriers

In South Asia, gender disparities in education are influenced by societal status and caste. Girls from marginalized communities face double discrimination, making it harder for them to access quality education. The gender gap in lower-secondary school enrolment is significant, with girls constituting 58% of out-of-school children in the region. As per research, only 27% of women in South Asia are currently enrolled in some form of post-secondary school education.

4. Structural Barriers:

Lack of infrastructure, such as inadequate sanitation facilities, disproportionately affects girls, particularly during menstruation. Additionally, shortages of female teachers and safe transportation options hinder girls’ access to education.

Government Initiatives Worldwide to Promote Gender Equity in Education

Governments around the world have recognized the importance of gender equity in education and have thus implemented various initiatives to address the barriers that girls face. Here are some notable examples:

  • India: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter)

The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign launched by the Government of India, aims to address gender bias and improve the welfare of girls by focusing on three main objectives:

  1. Preventing gender-biased sex-selective elimination.
  2. Ensuring survival, protection, and education of the girl child.
  3. Promoting the education and participation of girls.

The program has helped improve the sex ratio at birth and increased enrollment and retention rates of girls in schools, particularly in districts with historically low female sex ratios.

  • Global Initiatives: United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Specific targets within SDG 4 focus on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for vulnerable populations, including girls and women. This global framework encourages countries to adopt policies and initiatives that promote gender equity in education.

  • UNESCO’s Educational Practices Series:

UNESCO-IBE (International Bureau of Education) recognizes the transformative role of curriculum in challenging gender stereotypes. The Educational Practices Series provides evidence-based guidance for educators to foster gender equity. It covers topics such as combating gender bias in the classroom and reducing achievement gaps.

  • Nigeria: National Policy on Gender in Basic Education

Nigeria’s National Policy on Gender in Basic Education aims to bridge the gender gap in education by:

  1. Providing scholarships and support programs for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  2. Implementing school feeding programs to encourage attendance and retention of girls in schools.
  3. Conducting advocacy and community engagement activities to change cultural attitudes towards girls’ education.

These efforts have led to improvements in girls’ enrollment and completion rates in basic education.

  • MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Region

Several global initiatives aim to promote gender equity in education in the MENA region. UNICEF’s No Lost Generation Initiative provides educational opportunities and psychosocial support for girls in conflict-affected areas, while UNESCO’s Gender Equality Action Plan focuses on gender-sensitive policy advocacy and training. The World Bank’s Education for Competitiveness (E4C) Initiative supports girls’ education through financial and technical assistance, and UN Women’s Regional Programme promotes girls’ rights and empowerment through community-based education programs. Additionally, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) funds gender-responsive education plans and supports infrastructure improvements and teacher training, collectively working to address barriers and create inclusive educational environments for girls in MENA countries. 

Overcoming Barriers and Promoting Gender Equity in Education

The fight for gender equity in education encounters numerous hurdles, but technology offers a powerful set of tools to bridge the gap and empower girls. Here’s a look at its role and how MRCC EdTech contributes:

1. Enhancing Accessibility:

  • Role of Technology: Digital tools, e-learning platforms, and online courses provide access to education, especially in areas where traditional schooling is limited.
  • MRCC’s Contribution: We can develop online learning solutions for universities, thus ensuring equitable access to quality content for all students. Our curriculum and courseware development maximize learning potential.

2. Personalization and Inclusion:

  • Role of Technology: Adaptive learning platforms personalize learning paths based on individual needs, thus addressing diverse student requirements.
  • MRCC’s Contribution: We can create personalized course content with AI-powered technologies under professional SMEs’ supervision that cater to diverse learning styles, thus promoting inclusion and equity.

3. Distance Learning Opportunities:

  • Role of Technology: During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology enabled distance learning, ensuring continuity despite physical barriers.
  • MRCC’s Contribution: Our interactive content and immersive solutions facilitate remote learning, thereby reaching students in even the most remote areas.

4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Content:

  • Role of Technology: Digital content can be designed to reflect diverse perspectives, cultures, and identities.
  • MRCC’s Contribution: We ensure that our educational materials are culturally sensitive, gender-inclusive, and free of stereotypes. This approach fosters an equitable learning environment.

5. Data-Driven Decision-Making:

  • Role of Technology: Data analytics help identify gender disparities, learning gaps, and areas for improvement.
  • MRCC’s Contribution: Our SMEs employ data insights to enhance content, adapt learning pathways, and address the specific needs of diverse learners.

The Future of Gender Equity in Education

While technology plays a crucial role, it’s not a standalone solution. For true gender equity in education, a multi-pronged approach is necessary. This includes:

  • Government initiatives focused on addressing social and economic barriers.
  • Investment in infrastructure to ensure access to technology in remote areas.
  • Parental education about the benefits of girls’ education.

Technology, coupled with a holistic approach, can be a powerful tool for achieving gender equity in education. At MRCC EdTech, our commitment to gender equity lies in creating inclusive, accessible, and personalized educational solutions. By leveraging technology, we empower learners and educators to overcome barriers and promote equitable learning experiences. If you want to know more about gender equity in educational content, please contact our experts today.

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