Follow Us:


Education for All: Goal 5

Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality


Gender-based discrimination remains one of the most intractable constraints to realizing the right to education. Without overcoming this obstacle, Education for All cannot be achieved. Girls are a majority among out-of-school children and youth, although in an increasing number of countries boys are at a disadvantage. Even though the education of girls and women has a powerful trans-generational effect and is a key determinant of social development and women’s empowerment, limited progress has been made in increasing girls’ participation in basic education.


International agreement has already been reached to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005. This requires that gender issues be mainstreamed throughout the education system, supported by adequate resources and strong political commitment. Merely ensuring access to education for girls is not enough; unsafe school environments and biases in teacher behaviour and training, teaching and learning processes, and curricula and textbooks often lead to lower completion and achievement rates for girls.


By creating safe and gender-sensitive learning environments, it should be possible to remove a major hurdle to girls’ participation in education. Increasing levels of women’s literacy is another crucial factor in promoting girls’ education. Comprehensive efforts therefore need to be made at all levels and in all areas to eliminate gender discrimination and to promote mutual respect between girls and boys, women and men. To make this possible, changes in attitudes, values and behaviour are required.

The Islamabad Declaration

On 20 May 2003, gender focal points from Ministries of Education in South Asia gathered in Islamabad to discuss gender issues in education prior to the Education Ministers meeting from 20 to 23 May, 2003. In the Islamabad Declaration, the Education Ministers took note and integrated a significant number of suggestions coming from the gender focal point meeting.

Know more about Gender links, and projects and activities or visit the UNESCO Bangkok Gender in Education website.