Gender equality

Closing gender inequalities in education

Experience tells us that public health outbreaks have distinct gendered impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

This unprecedented disruption to education has potential immediate and longer-term effects on education and gender equality, particularly for the most marginalized including girls and boys living in contexts of emergencies.

School closures are expected to exacerbate girls’ and women’s unpaid care work, limiting the time to learn at home. The absence of schools as safe spaces heightens the risk of gender-based violence, early marriages and unintended pregnancy, sexual exploitation and abuse faced by many adolescent girls.

The crisis could also exacerbate boys’ disengagement from education, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Europe and North America.

While this is a crisis situation, it is also a window of opportunity to promote innovation, strengthen the resilience and gender-responsiveness of education systems. In contexts where digital solutions to distance learning and internet are accessible, there is an opportunity to build the digital skills of girls and boys alike, and ensure all learners have the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe online.

Flagship aims

Coalition members are working together to address the gender dimensions of the COVID-19 school crisis and safeguard progress made on gender equality on education in recent decades. 

The focus is on:

  • Understanding and addressing possible gender gaps in the engagement with, and learning outcomes from, distance learning opportunities during school closures.

  • Addressing the cross-cutting health, protection and education issues linked to disease outbreaks that can negatively impact the continuity of learning for girls and boys and decrease the likelihood that they return to school.

  • Making sure that boys and girls are re-enrolled in school and education programmes after the confinement has ended and that potential learning gaps are closed.

  • Building back better, strengthening education systems to be gender-transformative, more equitable and more resilient based on lessons learned from COVID-19.

Three action areas

Data, research and evidence to inform policies, programmes and plans
The flagship will produce a comprehensive global study to understand the gendered impacts of COVID-related school closures and document good practice to ensure continuity of learning and return to school.

Advocacy and communication efforts to promote continuity of learning and return to school, partnerships and systems reform
The flagship will lead a back to school campaign at the grassroots level in 20 countries with the greatest gender disparities in education, along with a broader global campaign calling for action to ensure the favourable policy and learning environments needed for girls’ return to school.

Country-level action to prevent widening gender inequalities in education
The flagship will support countries to develop gender-responsive education sector contingency plans, accelerate the deployment of gender-responsive distance learning approaches, and ensure continued access to services to prevent risks such as gender-based violence, and foster psychosocial support and well-being when schools reopen

Gender Flagship Reference Group 
While the flagship is open to a broad set of stakeholders within the Global Education Coalition, a small group comprised of 15 partners specialized in the area of gender and education has been invited to serve in an advisory capacity.

New publication

Check out the publication launched by Global Education Coalition partners, Building Back Equal: Girls Back to School Guide, to help policymakers and practitioners in Ministries of Education and their partners address the gender dimensions of COVID-related school closures.