IIEP at the Pan-African Conference on Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa

01 July 2024

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©UNICEF/Frank DEJONGH

Africa is home to half a billion children under 14, a number expected to reach 580 million by 2030. To secure their future, it is crucial to invest in and prioritize quality education for all today, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, including girls.

Despite recent progress in expanding access to education for girls, a range of obstacles—including economic and political factors, poverty, and humanitarian emergencies—continue to hinder overall advancement. In fact, 30% of all out-of-school children globally are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 32.6 million girls of primary and lower secondary school age out of school, and 9.3 million of them likely never to enter a classroom.

In this context, the African Union is hosting its inaugural Pan-African Conference on Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (PANCOGEd) from July 2-5, 2024, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IIEP will be present, contributing in various ways. Let’s take a closer look at what’s ahead.

Why this conference matters

Organized by the African Union, this conference marks a key milestone in the African Union's Year of Education 2024 and builds on the momentum from the Transforming Education Summit in Africa. This landmark event aims to advance gender equality in and through education across the African continent.

The objectives of PANCOGEd are comprehensive and ambitious. The conference will assess the current state of girls' education in Africa, share progress and best practices, tackle challenges, explore innovative and sustainable funding opportunities, and propose actionable solutions for inclusive, lifelong, high-quality, and relevant learning experiences.

What is IIEP’s role?

IIEP has been playing a crucial role in supporting the organization of the conference and will actively participate during the PANCOGEd. IIEP’s Director Martín Benavides will share insights on the status of girls' education in Africa alongside representatives from the International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and the African Union.

Benavides will also be one of the key panelists during the high-level ministerial event "Advancing Gender Equality in Education: Lessons from the 'Gender at the Centre Initiative' and Ways Forward". This event, organized as part of the Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI), will bring together Ministers of Education from Uganda and Chad, representatives from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, young feminists, civil society organizations, donors, and ministry staff from GCI countries. More important, this event represent a significant opportunity to connect with the GCI Alliance members, to reflect on the achievements of phase one and celebrate them, and to set a common ground as GCI phase two is starting.

Another highlight of the conference will be the presentation of a preliminary report on the state of girls' education in Africa. Co-authored by IIEP, this significant document will be discussed at high levels and is slated for approval at the AU Summit of Heads of State in February 2025. The findings and recommendations from this report are expected to guide future policy initiatives and action plans aimed at advancing educational equity and gender equality across the continent.

What’s ahead?

The inaugural PANCOGEd will bring together key changemakers dedicated to increasing gender equality in and through education in Africa. This conference will culminate in a call to action and could become a recurring event following-up on the commitments and progresses of the main actors in the sector.

IIEP will continue to strengthen its partnerships with the African Union and other key stakeholders working at the intersection of gender equality and education in Africa.

Together, we can plan for a brighter future for all girls and women in Africa and beyond.

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