X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

International Women’s Day: what now for girls’ access to education around the world?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 March 2021

IOE Events.

For our latest public debate we returned to the matter of Covid-19, this time the pandemic’s impact on girls’ access to education in the developing world. To assess that impact and the immense task of ‘building back better’, we were joined by an international panel of leading figures from the development community: Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education; Marelize Gorgens, Senior Specialist at the World Bank; Girish Menon, CEO of STiR Education; and Elaine Unterhalter, Professor of Education and International Development, and Co-Director of the Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), at the IOE.  You can find out more about our speakers here.

The task is a profound and urgent one, with estimates that around 24 million girls will never return to school following the pandemic, with marked and long-term consequences. This is in addition to those who were already outside education. As with much else, the pandemic has exposed existing fault lines in relation to girls’ education around the world. What was striking from the discussion was how much had previously been placed (more…)

International Women's Day: we cannot take progress for granted

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 March 2017

Heather Joshi.
Is the glass half full or half empty? On International Women’s Day, here are some findings from our research. They point to progress, it’s true, but also to persistent inequality between men and women.
The good news is that over time the average pay gap has been reducing. For those aged under 30, it’s now narrow, thanks to the way women have increasingly been matching, if not overtaking, men in education. This progress should show through as 30-somethings get on and get older.
But that’s to come (perhaps). As for now, there remains disparity between men and women in mid life. Women of equal education and experience are not equally paid. Pay gaps become earnings gaps and across women’s lifetimes they are magnified because men work longer hours and spend more time in paid employment, with implications for pensions and the (more…)

International Women’s Day: we are going to need bigger tables

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 March 2016

Karen Edge
Writing about gender on International Women’s Day, or any day for that matter, is rather nerve wracking. Am I leaning in, too much? Will I annoy anyone? Should I keep the tone personal or academic? How much of myself am I willing to share? Will I simply become that person who is always talking about gender?
However, in light of #IWD2016, if there is any day to speak up, it is today. So, without  further ado, here is your long read courtesy of the IOE blog. Go! (more…)

International Women's Day: the gender gap shortchanges us all

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 March 2013

Heidi Safia Mirza

Today is International Women’s Day 2013, 18 years since the 1995 UN Beijing World Conference on Women that declared “women’s rights are human rights”. But we still have a long way to go in securing women’s global access to health, education and the right to full economic and political participation.
So says Melanne Verveer, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Women’s Rights at Cambridge University. As President Obama’s former Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues, she has delivered a series of powerful lectures this week drawing on her extensive experience in the US State Department and international feminist activism to argue that there is a moral imperative for gender justice and equity.  As she says, “The gender gap in women’s political, social and economic participation is not just short-changing women around the world, but is also short-changing global economic growth for all.”
In the concluding symposium on Monday 11 March I will be joining leading feminist thinkers Henrietta Moore, Sara Ahmed, Susie Orbach, Sarah Franklin,  and Nina Power to debate Gender Equality: A Moral and Foreign Policy Imperative at King’s College Cambridge.
Drawing on my research on young migrant and Muslim women in schools I will examine how gender violence and the symbolic power of the veil limits young women’s right to education. These young women are caught in between conflicting ideologies and cultural perspectives.
On one hand, their experiences in British schools are shaped by the powerful Islamophobic discourses that have circulated since 9/11. According to such ways of thinking, the Muslim woman’s body has become symbolic in the battle against Islam and the “barbaric Muslim enemy within”.
In this context the wearing of the veil has become a key symbol for many young women themselves, but it invites both unrestrained public comment and open legitimate attention from teachers who wish to regulate and control the young women’s behaviour in the class.
On the other hand there are also some parents, brothers and other young men who wish to control their daughters’ and sisters’ emerging sexuality through religious ideas that are both political and patriarchal, and that sanction gendered violence, including honour crimes, and forced marriage.
The consequence of being caught up in these competing discourses of school and family are great for the young women who, worryingly, have high rates of mental distress and trauma, including depression, attempted suicide and eating disorders. The findings conclude that while educational policy must address the human rights violations of young women’s bodily rights, it is also crucial that policy perspectives move beyond stereotypical views of Muslim women and look at violence not as a cultural matter, but as a gendered issue to be treated in the same way for all young women.
The Symposium has already sold out, but it will be recorded and available at CRASSH website (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), University of Cambridge, after Monday.