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Gender inequality in education is extreme. Girls are less likely to access school, to remain in school or to achieve in education. Despite almost 30 years of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of  Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and 20 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), today ‘Girls make up around 56 per cent of the 77 million children not in school, and women make up two thirds of the adults who are illiterate. Even girls who do enrol in school may have irregular attendance due to other demands on them, and the fact that their education may not be prioritised. Girls are more likely to repeat years, to drop out early and to fail key subjects, and in most countries girls are less likely to complete the transition to secondary schooling. Sadly, in many places, girls who do attend school may be subject to physical and mental abuse. There are numerous reports of teachers taking advantage of their position of power and sexually abusing girls.’


Education helps men and women claim their rights and realise their potential in economic, political and social arenas. It is also the single most powerful way to lift people out of poverty. Education plays a particularly important role as a foundation for girls’ development towards adult life. It should be an intrinsic part of any strategy to address the gender-based discrimination against women and girls that remains prevalent in many societies. Gender equality requires adapting equally to the needs and interests of girls and boys. “International human rights law lays down a three fold set of criteria where by girls should have an equal right to education, equal right in education and their equal rights should be protected and promoted through education.” (Tomasevski, 2005)


See some relevant links:

ActionAid - 2005: Gender equity

ActionAid - Education

ActionAid - Girl power

ActionAid - Making the grade

ActionAid - Women and girls

UNICEF - Basic education and gender equality 

Please see the following issues:

Discrimination and stereotypes

Girls with special needs

Unpacking discrimination

Girls’/Women’s education

Importance of education

Why girls are not in schools