Number of illiterate women grows further – UNESCO

Number of illiterate women grows further – UNESCO

Despite the significant progress in parity between boys’ and girls’ access to school, the number of illiterate women in low-income countries has grown over the past 19 years, a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) showed.

In its report entitled “Building bridges for gender equality”, UNESCO said that one-third of countries have not achieved gender parity in primary education, while half of the world’s nations failed to provide lower secondary education to as many girls as boys.

Sub-Saharan Africa was seen far behind in all education levels while the United Arab Emirates for the first time, lagged furthest in achieving gender parity in primary education, possibly due to conflict.

However, UNESCO pointed that only one in four countries have equality in upper secondary education. It cited Central and Southern Asia’s great progress and a rapid change by India.

G7’s breakdown of aiding education are as follows: 55 percent of aid went to achieving gender equality, with Canada leading the pack in terms of prioritizing gender equality in its education aid at 92%, followed by France and the UK that matched at 76 percent of their respective education development aid.

“Tackling inequalities head-on is the only way we are going to achieve a quality education for all,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said.

“We welcome the G7 decision to focus on girls’ education, a core priority of UNESCO for the next six years. This is a positive development not only for the realization of a fundamental human right for girls and women, but for all who work to achieve sustainable development and peace,” she added.

The Report, which was published on the occasion of the G7 Development and Education Ministerial Meeting and the G7-UNESCO International conference at the Organization’s Headquarters, analysed the 20 countries with the largest gender gaps in education and identified their policies for gender equality.

Change unlikely if gender norms, attitudes not tackled

“We can try and improve education systems as much as we want but real change is unlikely to happen unless we also tackle negative gender norms and attitudes in society,” Global Education Monitoring Report Director Manos Antoninis said.

“Over a quarter of people still think that it is more important for a boy to go to university than a girl. We have to empower girls, educate boys and men and identify new role models if we are to challenge the status quo successfully,” he added.


Angelica is a reporter for Global Education Times with a focus on the ‘business of education’, and on Asia-Pacific and South American education affairs. An experienced journalist, Angelica also writes for the oldest English newspaper in the Philippines, The Manila Times, as the publication’s business correspondent.
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