‘Gender at the Centre Initiative’: putting gender equality at the core of education

As a key partner and technical lead of the international Gender at the Centre Initiative, IIEP-UNESCO works to strengthen existing skills and structures in favour of gender equality in education. On the agenda until 2023: technical support, training courses, workshops, resources, and events on the planning and management of gender-responsive education for education ministries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite significant progress in favour of gender equality over the last 25 years, three quarters of children who are likely never to go to primary school are girls. In sub-Saharan Africa, 52 million of them are excluded from education and many others face obstacles that hinder their studies.

Coordinated by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), the Gender at the Centre Initiative aims to advance gender equality in the education systems of eight countries in the region: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Chad.


Gender at the Centre Initiative: our training courses

University 2020 on gender-responsive education planning

From November 2020 to January 2021, 38 people working in the field of education planning and management took part in the first University on gender-responsive planning, conceived and organized by IIEP-UNESCO Dakar. Sixteen francophone African countries were represented in this first cohort, 56% of whom were women planners.

This selective training programme was delivered free, in French, by IIEP experts, with the support of recognized international specialists. The programme adopted a practice-based approach to learning. Candidates from the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad) were given priority places in the training course, as members of the Gender at the Centre Initiative.

Initially intended to take place in hybrid mode (in-person and remotely), the University 2020 eventually took place completely online, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out more about the programme [in French only]

AGENDA 2021-2023

IIEP offers different capacity-building programmes in the field of gender equality in the framework of the Gender at the Centre Initiative. Find out about the next scheduled sessions:

University 2021 on gender-responsive education planning (EN)
Staff of education ministries of anglophone African countries
→ October > December 2021

Cohort programme
Network of planners of gender-responsive education
→ 2021: online forum and meetings on the topic of gender institutionalisation and the first workshop in French

University 2022 on gender-responsive education planning (PT, ES), in collaboration with IIEP-Buenos-Aires
Staff of education ministries of Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries

→ November 2022 > January 2023

Training on gender institutionalisation (FR)
Staff of education ministries
→ 2023

Meet participants from the University:



Gender and education: contextualised technical support

The eight participating countries receive technical support from the Institute, adapted to their specific context and needs. Areas of intervention include:

  • Support in integrating gender issues in education sectoral analyses and plans, and in tools for planning, programming, or monitoring and evaluation.
  • Support in setting up participatory assessments on gender issues or in approaching gender-responsive education budgeting.

More broadly, IIEP provides expertise to education ministries in terms of action research on resistance to gender issues in education and change management.

IIEP will publish and make available all the resources and knowledge on integrating gender equality in education systems developed in the framework of this initiative.

The Gender at the Centre Alliance: committed partners

Launched in 2019 during the G7 summit in Biarritz in France, Gender at the Centre recognizes the urgency of ensuring access to quality education for all, on an equal footing, and of removing barriers to education for girls and young women.

The initiative is run by an Alliance of partners, coordinated by UNGEI. IIEP is responsible for the technical leadership, in close collaboration with the education ministries of the eight countries concerned. The Alliance also includes UNESCO's headquarters and national and regional offices, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the African Union - International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (AU/CIEFFA), as well as a consortium of non-governmental organizations: the African Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA), Plan International, and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE).

The Gender at the Centre Alliance has the following objectives:

  • support for policies aimed at advancing gender equality in education,
  • implementation of actions in favour of gender equality in education systems,
  • promotion of inter-sectoral political dialogue and inter-ministerial coordination,
  • collection of, access to, and use of quality data, broken down by gender,
  • formulation and budgeting of policies integrating a gender dimension,
  • definition of a framework to monitoring and evaluate progress in gender equality in education.