Fight poverty, invest in girls. Global Action Week for Education for All focuses on gender discrimination

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

This week marks Global Action Week (2-8 May 2011), an annual event observed worldwide to highlight the importance of Education for All. This year’s theme is “Fight poverty, invest in girls”, to draw attention to gender discrimination that remains so pervasive in education. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu organizes on the occasion of the week a variety of events.

The investment in girls’ and women’s education offers high returns, including accelerated social and economic progress, and the unique power to break the cycle of poverty.

However, Inequality in education cripples the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. While the rights of women have made significant progress, women are still not treated equally in many countries. According to UNFPA statistics, women perform 66 per cent of the world’s work; help to produce 50 per cent of global food output; but earn less than 10 per cent of the global income and own just one per cent of the global property stock.

Although the gender gap in education has narrowed over the past decade, girls are still at a disadvantage, particularly in their access to upper secondary education. Women in South Asia, for example have only half as many years of education as their male counterparts, and female enrolment rates at the upper secondary level are two-thirds of those of males. Data of the Department of Education show that participation of both boys and girls in upper secondary education in Nepal is strikingly low i. e. only 26 per cent in 2010-11.

Moreover the latest UNESCO statistics show that in South and West Asia, on average, only one in two women could read and write. In stark contrast, approximately seven out of ten men can do so. Nepal had an adult literacy rate of only 58 per cent in 2008, with male at 71 per cent and female at only 45 per cent. An astounding 7.6 million adults, 67 per cent being women (5.1 million), are still deprived of literacy opportunity in Nepal.

These issues go to the heart of UNESCO’s mission; promoting a quality education for all, including women and girls. Education is critical to laying the foundations for gender equality and the empowerment of women.

In view of achieving the goals of EFA by 2015, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in support of the Aasaman Nepal in Janakpur, Dhanusa and the Namuna Integrated Development Council in Bhiarahawa, Rupandehi, is observing the Global Action Week with a variety of activities. They include lesson plan competitions among literacy facilitators, interaction with district level stakeholders, including field supervisors of literacy classes, storytelling by literacy graduate women and girls, and street drama demonstrations by participants of literacy classes in local language (Maithili and Awadhi) in different locations of Dhanusha and Rupandehi districts.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the Department of Education, messages on the themes "Let’s create an environment of gender equality in the school; Let’s ensure quality education for all” are broadcasted through 12 FM radios in eight local languages throughout the week. The main purpose of broadcasting is to raise social awareness, foster community development and women empowerment, promote quality education for children and reach out to marginalized groups and communities.

Kathmandu, 5 May 2011
Press Release UNESCO/KAT/ 07/2011

P.O.Box 14391
Sanepa-2, Lalitpur, Nepal
Tel.: + 977 1 5554396
Fax: + 977 1 5554450 Kathmandu Office