(with examples from the Beijing + 10 year review)
“Education is a human right and an essential tool for achieving the goals of equality, development and peace. Non-discriminatory education benefits both girls and boys…” (para 70, p. 26, BPFA)
Notable gains have been achieved as a result of focused governmental and non-governmental initiatives. A number of countries are on their way to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. Current indicators of MDGs on education, however, do not take into account gender equality in outcomes of schooling and quality of education. A narrow focus on primary education with the Millennium Development Goal 2 and 3 however, defeats the whole purpose of women’s empowerment and leadership. Secondary and higher education still prove to be more catalytic in empowering young women to overcome challenges of patriarchy and poverty.
The implementation of MDG 2 and 3 must be linked with the implementation of existing international educational commitments and must build not turn back on prior international treaties with provisions on gender equality (i.e. Jomtien Declaration, Education for All (EFA) Dakar Framework, ICESCR, ICCPR, CEDAW and CRC).
Still, women continue to experience inadequate access to education particularly higher education, and higher levels of illiteracy than men. The development of gender sensitive curricula remains an outstanding issue to be addressed.
In Australia there is a notable lack of education which is suited to the particular needs of students from diverse backgrounds and which supports a wide range of teaching and learning styles and situations. There is little support for bi-lingual education programs, this impacts severely on the access to education for Indigenous women and girls.
Programs to enable access to education and lifelong learning to enable women to participate in mainstream society are poorly funded.
Gender tracking in selection of courses remains well entrenched in educational institutions. Academic institutions have been inadequate in protecting and securing female students from sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women (VAW).
An increased rural-urban gap exists in vocational training opportunities for girls and women. Lack of training for women in business and entrepreneurial skills is undermining attempts to support women’s involvement in business enterprises. In additions, women have limited access to training in information technology.