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UNESCO: International Women’s Day - investment in girls' education pays off

UNESCO: International Women’s Day - investment in girls' education pays off

Baku, March 7, AZERTAC

UNESCO fact sheet released on International Women’s Day shows investment in girls’ education has generated huge dividends over the past two decades, according to the official website of the Organization.

The new report confirms that there are now fewer girls (122 million) out of school than boys (128 million) and according to the most up-to-date figures, 114 women are enrolled for every 100 men in higher education worldwide, Entitled Her Education, Our Future, the fact sheet demonstrates that countries’ increased commitment to girls’ education that has made a difference. In 1995, the Beijing Platform for Action urged countries to eliminate gender discrimination in education. Today, 105 countries prohibit it in their constitution, according to UNESCO’s interactive tool, Her Atlas, that explores the educational rights of girls and women worldwide.

Behind the global figures, however, stubborn pockets of exclusion remain. The ten countries with the highest out-of-school rates for girls are all in Africa apart from Afghanistan. In eight of them, over half of school-aged girls are out of school; in Afghanistan, 75% of girls are out of school.

Late enrolment and repetition remain a major barrier for young women’s school trajectories in sub-Saharan Africa. Young men can afford to be late completers but young women who are not on course to finish upper secondary school on time, are under pressure to marry and have children. There has been no progress in addressing this challenge in the past 20 years.

Not all countries have disaggregated data from household surveys in the last 5 years. Of those that do, 10 countries have been selected to demonstrate the plight of the poorest girls facing the most extreme disadvantages. WIDE data show that at least 7 in 10 of the poorest young women of upper secondary school age are out of school in these 10 countries. In Guinea and Mali, almost no poor young women are in school, putting them at the same disadvantage as Afghan girls officially banned from going to school.

In Mozambique, there are 73 young women in school for every 100 young men – although there is gender parity in urban areas, there are 53 young women in school for every 100 young men in rural areas. Wealth is an even greater factor in education inequalities. In Côte d’Ivoire, there are 72 young women in school – but only 22 poor young women – for every 100 young men.

Gender remains one of the strongest determinants of the likelihood of pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Grade 8 boys were more willing to pursue a mathematics-related occupation than their female schoolmates in 87% of the education systems participating in the 2019 TIMSS.

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