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Gender and the right to education

Gender inequality in education is extreme. Girls are less likely to access school, to remain in school or to achieve in education. Two thirds of the world's 781 million illiterate adults are women. There is an urgent need for affirmative action to challenge this rights abuse, and such action is encouraged through international law. For example, general comment 13, paragraph 32 of the ICESCR allows for the adoption of temporary special measures intended to bring about de facto equality for men and women and for disadvantaged groupsso long as such measures do not lead to the maintenance of unequal or separate standards for different groups and provided they are not continued after the objectives which they were taken have been achieved. Moreover access to education alone is not a sufficient condition for the right to education. Discrimination within the education system must also be abolished, and education materials and processes must not only refrain from reinforcing gender discrimination, they should actively combat it.

Did you know that:

Educated women have fewer children: for every two to three years of education, a woman is likely to have one less child.

If women farmers in Kenya had the same education and inputs as men, crop yields could rise 22%.

A study in Zambia found that AIDS spreads twice as fast among girls.


Our special section devoted to girls/women and

The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women