International Women’s Day – teacher development for gender equality
March 8, 2022
March 8 is an important day to uphold women’s achievements and to recognize the unique challenges that women are facing all over the world. This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” in recognition of the women’s and girls’ contribution to building a more equitable and sustainable future for all around the world,
Despite notable progress towards gender equality since the establishment of the Education for All (EFA) initiative, many countries particularly in sub-Saharan Africa are still far from achieving gender parity in education. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered multiple crises, magnified existing gender inequalities. Unfortunately, the pandemic had distinct gendered impacts, and gender disparities are already beginning to appear. UNESCO (2022) estimates that over 11 million girls might not return to school after the pandemic, in addition to the 130 million girls who were already out of school. It is also essential to encourage girls’ pursuit of fields where they are under-represented, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes.
UNESCO IICBA considers gender mainstreaming and women empowerment as essential elements in all projects, and strides to achieve gender equity through teacher development in Africa. Particularly, we have focused on advancing girls’ and women’s education in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and in STEM fields among others. For instance, IICBA spearheaded a KIX Africa 19 Hub event last November that explored how country partners such as Zimbabwe and South Sudan are reaching and teaching girls amidst the pandemic. Continental and national-level approaches and impacts were shared and discussed with more than sixty participants from fifteen countries including The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Besides, under The UNESCO-HNA Funds-in-trust project, #IICBA has provided technical backstopping to Ethiopia and Ghana in #GenderMainstreaming and #STEM for girls aiming to stimulate participation and achievement of upper primary school girls in STEM subjects through the use of pedagogy-based ICT and innovation teaching & learning practices. A Gender Responsive Pedagogy Toolkit for Teachers and Schoolshas been developed in collaboration with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), UNICEF and other private partners. Many teachers, school leaders and officials from Ministries of Education responsible for gender mainstreaming and STEM education were trained on the use of the toolkit through workshops organized by IICBA.
Figure 1 Students performing low-cost acid-base experiments in Ghana
Today, advancing gender equality in response to the need for building a more sustainable future is one of the greatest global challenges. Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESO, states on this occasion of International Women’s Day 2022; “I would like to applaud this new generation of young women – for their courage in speaking out, inspiring others and mobilizing their peers, for a more sustainable tomorrow." We would like to celebrate the contribution of all women and girls across the world and encourage all to do their part in ensuring that women and girls get their voices heard and gender equality is mainstreamed.
Happy International Women’s Day!
 UNESCO, UNESCO in Action for Gender Equality 2020-2021, 2022 https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000380680