Is her right to education denied or protected? UNESCO’s ‘Her Atlas’ maps the answer

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If education is a universal human right, then why are 132 million girls are still out of school? The answer is not a simple one. Poverty, gender-based violence, discrimination and early marriage are some of the barriers girls face to getting into the classroom. Without strong legal protections, these barriers will continue to exclude girls from enjoying their right to education. UNESCO's Her Atlas team analyzed the legal frameworks of nearly 200 states to track which laws were enabling---or inhibiting---the right to education for girls and women.

Her Atlas is an interactive world map. It uses a color-coded scoring system to monitor 12 indicators of legal progress towards gender equality in the right to education. For example, which states do not guarantee the right to education without discrimination based on sex in their Constitution? Which have an absolute minimum age of marriage at 18 for girls? Which prohibit or restrict education of pregnant and parenting girls? If we want all girls and women to be in the classroom, then Her Atlas can help us direct our attention to those areas where their human rights are most at risk.

However, you cannot defend your rights if you do not know you have them. Her Atlas uses visuals and easy-to-read language to increase public awareness that every person has the unalienable right to an education. A much-needed advocacy tool, the atlas simplifies legal language, which is often hard to understand and translate across contexts.

Awareness alone cannot secure rights. Political advocacy is crucial. Lasting progress in the equality of educational rights between genders depends on effective national and international efforts that push social progress. Her Atlas operationalizes this need for change by identifying specific gaps in legal frameworks so that states can address them through legal reform.

What next for Her Atlas?

Her Atlas now covers every country in the world. The research began in July 2019 as a part of UNESCO's Her education, our future initiative to increase female education participation. To accompany the completion phase, a Findings Report will be released in December 2021 to spotlight key trends per indicator and per region.

But for Her Atlas, completion does not mean conclusion. The tool will be updated regularly in the lead up to 2030 and will be further developed to display the evolution in legal reforms over time from 2019 to 2030. Help spread the word about Her Atlas to promote, protect, and progress her rights. The atlas is best viewed on a larger device for the full display.