Gender inequalities in education


Despite significant progress worldwide, there is still a long way to go before the challenge of fairness and equality in education is fully addressed. There are still major gender inequalities, particularly for girls and young women facing poverty or disability. Discover all of IIEP-UNESCO’s activities and resources for gender-sensitive educational planning and management.

Since the early 21st century, girls’ access to education has leaped forward around the world. While girls’ learning outcomes are improving faster than boys’, almost two thirds of illiterate adults in the world are women, and three quarters of children who are likely never to go to primary school are girls (UNESCO 2020). Reducing gender inequalities is a prerequisite for guaranteeing the right to quality education for all.

Over the past decade, IIEP has strengthened its commitment to reducing gender inequalities by integrating this issue in all of its activities. Since 2014, it has also been is one of the Institute’s thematic priorities.


Planning and management of gender-sensitive education: our training courses

IIEP is taking action to integrate gender issues into each of its training programmes delivered in its Paris, Dakar, and Buenos Aires offices. The objective is to enable participants in the training courses to become drivers of change in their country, particularly when they are responsible for developing gender equality policies in education.

Online courses and training programmes focusing specifically on this issue are offered regularly. Some examples:

Women are strongly encouraged to apply to IIEP’s different training programmes. A scholarship is awarded every year to a female educational planner. (For further information, contact)
Discover IIEP’s training proposals


Gender equality in education: our research

IIEP-UNESCO leads or participates in applied research on issues relating to gender equality in education. This research covers, among other things, policies in favour of gender equality in knowledge acquisition and educational leadership. IIEP relies on these studies to improve the interpretation and use of gender-specific data that are relevant in the formulation of educational policies and education planning.

A few publications



Three questions on Gender Equality answered by Fabricia Devignes, senior education specialist and program manager of the Gender at the Center Initiative at IIEP-UNESCO.


Technical support to States

Fostering educational systems that integrate gender equality is a way of ensuring that policies are more inclusive. IIEP therefore offers fairness analyses in the diagnoses of the education sector, in the development of education sector plans, and in the monitoring and evaluation of their implementation.

Some examples of IIEP’s tools and technical assistance activities relating to gender:

  • Technical support by IIEP experts in Sierra Leone, in the context of the implementation of the educational sector analysis.
  • Fairness analysis, integrated into the sectoral analysis in Nigeria, conducted at federal and national levels.
  • Formulation of a technical proposal in Mali to strengthen the ministry’s capacity to plan and manage gender-sensitive educational policies.
  • Participation in a committee of experts responsible for analysing studies on gender in education in Asia.
  • Implementation of an evaluation tool on operationalizing school-related gender-based violence.

The Institute works closely with various partners to promote gender equality in the education sector, particularly in the context of the Gender at the Centre initiative. Partners include ministries of education and foreign affairs of UNESCO Member States, United Nations Girls’ Education (UNGEI), and UNESCO‘s gender equality division.

In the framework of its monitoring and evaluation policy, IIEP measures each year the share of technical assistance projects that are ‘gender-sensitive’ on the scale of the United Nations gender equality marker.


Gender & education: news and related projects

‘Gender at the Centre’: putting gender equality at the heart of educational systems

As a continuation of its strategy and commitment to reducing inequalities in education, IIEP-UNESCO is responsible for the technical leadership of the Gender at the Centre initiative (GCI), through its office in Dakar. Launched in 2019 during the G7 summit, GCI aims to ensure progress in gender equality in the educational systems of eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Chad.

Coordinated by UNGEI, GCI also brings together other partners such as UNICEF or the Global Partnership for Education.

Find out more about the ‘Gender at the Centre initiative’.

Policy box: discover educational policies relating to the theme ‘fairness and inclusion’

This IIEP-UNESCO online platform gives planners and political officials free access to more than 500 policy options relating to education management and planning, according to the needs identified in their country. They all come with specific information on marginalized populations, relating in particular to the question of gender.

 Access IIEP-UNESCO’s Policy Toolbox