Welcome to the February installment of The Puggle. This month brought encouraging news on aid to education. The Global Partnership for Education's latest replenishment broke new ground with $2.3 billion in commitments over the next three years (a 75% increase) and attention from top policymakers: President Macky Sall from Senegal and President Emmanuel Macron from France co-hosted the event.
The UK’s Department for International Development unveiled a new education strategy to “Get Children Learning.” It prioritizes (1) support for good teaching, (2) system reform, and (3) targeted support to the most marginalized children. Included in this third category is hard-to-reach girls, for whom DFID will promote 12 years of quality education and learning and investing in improving the life chances of those who do not go on to secondary school.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 reminded us that education alone will not erase gender gaps in areas like economic participation and political empowerment. "Given the continued widening of the economic gender gap, it will now not be closed for another 217 years. However, the education–specific gender gap could be reduced to parity within the next 13 years."
In contrast, the Youth Wellbeing Index suggests that youth at least notionally believe women should have the same rights as men.
Can we meet youths’ expectations that the world will become more gender equitable? Can education work smarter to begin to address some of the remaining gaps? News from this month suggests two potential pathways.
One potential path is universal childcare. Researchers from UN Women argue that universal childcare could unlock change for women and girls across generations. "Good quality, universal and affordable childcare services reduce women’s unpaid care work and enable mothers to access decent quality work because they can leave their children safely; [it] ensure[s] that children get at least one good meal a day, prepare[s] them for school in the crucial and neglected early years, particularly those from disadvantaged households; and can create decent jobs in the social service sector, which tend to be taken up mostly by women."
A study on pre-schools in Mozambique underscores the spillovers for women and older girls that come from providing early childhood education: older siblings went to school more often and adult caregivers went to work more often because they were relieved of their care duties. Of course universal childcare is no small lift - particularly given it must be of high quality for it to pay off - but it could be one route to greater returns on education for gender equality.
A second potential path is comprehensive sexuality education. UNESCO revised its International technical guidance on sexuality education, which now includes recognition of the need to include discussions of gender and power when providing sex education. "While the focus of many studies is on health outcomes, the evolving understanding of comprehensive sexuality education recognizes that this kind of education can also contribute to wider outcomes such as gender equitable attitudes, confidence or self-identity.” We don’t have definitive rigorous research on these non-health outcomes as yet, but perhaps we should.
Looking for more ideas on advancing gender equality? Here is a new resource on Advancing Learning and Innovation on Gender Norms that collates additional ideas and research for changing harmful gender norms for adolescents and young adults. Here are Four Ways to Incorporate a Gender Lens in Your Measurement and Evaluation Efforts. And here are reflections on How Gendered Interactions on the Ground Shape Development.
Are there other pathways to consider or resources for advancing gender equality we should know about? Let us know in the comments below!