Raise your voice for gender equality in education

Can women’s leadership model give a message of hope
to girls?

Highlights on discussions, Day 1 (26 March 2012)

Jacky Lumby, Sanghamitra Das and Heinrich M. Rukundo  agreed on the idea that women holding leadership positions, for instance school heads, represented an inspiring and motivating model for girls and young women. Donvan Amenya extended this idea by highlighting that especially in unequal societies, the women leadership model gave a message of hope to girls. In other words, schools with female head teachers offer a concrete example on how female professionals are able to perform as well as male professionals. Similarly, Daniel Otieno views female teachers as another inspiring example of leadership, due to the idea that students tend to better connect with teachers of the same gender.

However, at a ministry level, Tina Wallace finds that this issue is more complex than a discussion of proportions. Following her own experience, she observed that the most important barriers to women leadership included male hostility.  At the same time, she notes that there is not enough systematic data concerning this issue. It would therefore be important and useful if we could continue sharing and learning more from our experiences. Nevertheless, she states that the idea of leadership should not be associated to a ‘male’ or ‘female’ style, but rather to people’s experiences and research on this area.

Contrary to Tina Wallace’s point, Jacky Lumby suggests a ‘women’s approach’ to school leadership. It would appear that research in South Africa has shown that this approach had better outcomes for both girls and boys.

In regards to policy interventions aiming at gender equality, Heinrich M. Rukundo mentions some effective targeted strategies, such as in Rwanda which covered issues related to school management, pedagogy, peer support systems, and hygiene. In Kenya, Daniel Otieno also mentions the application of policy guidelines on gender equality, which are expected to have a positive effect on gender imbalance.

Based on your experience, what is going on in your country? Have you observed any policy interventions showing a clear effect on gender equality especially in term of girls and boys learning achievement?

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