Confronting gender discrimination in education

Expanding education for gender equality

Gender-based discrimination lies at the root of many of the challenges that girls and young women face in the education system and in their transition to employment and decent work. Negative gender stereotypes and discrimination in education laws and policies, learning content, teaching practices and attitudes all play a role. Similarly, unsuitable and unsafe learning environments and school-related gender-based violence compromise girls’ retention in school, their educational choices and achievement, with lifetime implications for their economic empowerment.

From 2016–2017, the UN Women Egypt Country Office (ECO) implemented a programme aimed at reducing the gender gap in education – both in formal and informal schools – targeting young women and girls in 46 schools in the governorates of Greater Cairo, Minia, Luxor, Aswan and the Red Sea. The programme sought to: strengthen the quality of formal educational institutions and community mechanisms to promote the education of young women and girls; conduct needs assessments in the five communities, to identify and address the key constraints for girls’ access to safe education; bring together the business community and educational policymakers to better link education to employment needs; and advocate for addressing the root causes of gender-based discrimination by expanding community knowledge and acceptance of the importance of education for young women and girls.

As a result of the project:

  • 17,000 students learned about gender norms and defying traditional gender stereotypes through camps, which succeeded in changing 85 per cent of students’ perceptions
  • four new community schools were built
  • 50 recommendations for improvements to increase the safety of girls in schools were developed – 85 per cent of which had been implemented by the end of the project
  • 205 infrastructure improvements were completed, including to latrines and playgrounds
  • 3,990 students were introduced to new interactive learning techniques and active learning methods and applications
  • more than 300 teachers enhanced their capacity to use active learning methodologies and manage behaviour through positive discipline
  • 31 Ministry of Education supervisors were trained to ensure an educational environment free of gender stereotypes
  • three policy briefs/actions to enhance vocational education and address the specific needs of young girls were produced, informed by a study on girls’ choices when selecting vocational education, and
  • 330 women were trained in financial literacy and access to micro-finance, after which 190 started their own micro-projects. Some mothers even reported re-enrolling their daughters in school as a result
  • The short movie “Mariam and the Sun” reached 2 million viewers on social media.

This programme was implemented in partnership with the National Council for Women and with the generous support of the Embassy of Japan in Egypt.