Accelerating progress on gender equality – a youth perspective

Three GPE Youth Leaders weigh in on concrete actions we can take to achieve gender equality in education.

March 08, 2022 by GPE Secretariat
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6 minutes read
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A class 2 student at Shree Krishna Ratna School in Chautara, Ward 5, Sindhupalchowk District, Nepal. June 2019. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
A class 2 student at Shree Krishna Ratna School in Chautara, Ward 5, Sindhupalchowk District, Nepal.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

In honor of International Women’s Day, we interviewed three GPE youth leaders on the front lines for the fight for gender equality in and through education.

Cynthia Nyongesa

Cynthia Nyongesa

Cynthia Nyongesa is a lawyer and GPE Youth Leader from Kenya with a passion for children’s rights and communication as a tool for advocacy. She uses her platforms to amplify the stories of young change-makers in Africa.

Diana Ayala

Diana Ayala

Diana Ayala is a GPE Youth Leader from Honduras who works with the youth group of the Council for Adult Education of Latin America (CEAAL) in Honduras, and is engaged with Foro Dakar Honduras, Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE), and the Global Coalition for Education (GCE).

Shradha Koirala

Shradha Koirala

Shradha Koirala is a GPE Youth Leader from Nepal who works as Senior Program Coordinator at National Campaign for Education Nepal (NCE Nepal), where she advocates to ensure the right to education of all children.

1. Can you tell us a bit about main barriers to equality in your context?

Cynthia Nyongesa
“In Kenya where society views girls just as caretakers of the home, young girls suffer from early marriage, which is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. Often, they are viewed as a financial burden when they stay in the home, and as an economic asset if married off early. This reduces their chances of completing school and transitioning into the workforce to better their lives.”
Cynthia
Diana Ayala Escobar
“This year, my work is focused on advocating for girls with disabilities and from rural areas to complete 12 years of school, one of the biggest gender equality issues here in Honduras. We face a scenario where girls have difficulty staying in the education sector throughout their life.”
Diana
Shradha Koirala
“We have evidence that despite the years-long progress of girls and women's participation in parliament and employment, there is still a huge gender equality gap in the education system. Girls from marginalized and rural communities struggle to get educational opportunities due to poverty, social norms, child marriage and more. And even if they do get an education, they face challenges in the job market and with continuing education or employment after marriage.”
Shradha

2. What policy change you think is needed to accelerate progress towards gender equality in education in your country?

Diana Ayala Escobar
“Honduras has an Education Sector Plan which needs to be revised to make sure that the needs of the entire sector are being taken into consideration. We need a policy that allows Comprehensive Sexual Education in public schools and does not leave behind girls that experience teenage pregnancy. We also need a more inclusive approach that considers rural areas and builds more schools accessible to all children. We need a policy that shows the importance of respecting human rights, the diversity of all beliefs and free expression. ”
Diana
Shradha Koirala
“Making sure that girls have opportunities to access education is important, but more is needed to achieve true gender equality. Even when the opportunities are available, gender-biased processes and materials and inadequate sanitation facilities incentivize girls away from education. Many girls in my community leave school because of the harassment from teachers and colleagues. Ensuring gender equality in schools and education systems requires considerable investment of time, money, knowledge, and skill, as well as sustained dialogue. It should be viewed as a long-run investment and supported by the policies and plans of the government. One stand-alone action cannot make the necessary change.”
Shradha
Cynthia Nyongesa
“Culture plays an important role in female genital mutilation (FGM) prevalence, and teachers and medical practitioners from non FGM-practicing should be hired to educate other communities and students about the danger of the practice. It is also important to use existing data on out of school children to develop back to school strategies. Identifying and mitigating the risks girls face such as economic issues, social norms, teenage pregnancies, lack of water and sanitation facilities could get more girls in school and thriving. Encouraging affirmative action and reasonable accommodations for girls with disabilities could also enable them to stay in school and succeed.”
Cynthia
Student with school materials. Nyeri Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya. April 2017. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Student with school materials. Nyeri Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya. April 2017.
Credit:
GPE/Kelley Lynch

3. What do you see as the role of GPE in strengthening gender equality in partner countries?

Shradha Koirala
“GPE supports the achievement of gender equality in and through education by ensuring the financing, efficiency, and quality of education. Systemic changes are difficult and require sustainable and continuous dialogues and engagement. GPE has supported Nepal with gender-responsive planning and budgeting. As Nepal identified gender as a priority area during the piloting of GPE’s new operating model, GPE is supporting gender and equity related indicators of the country education sector plan. This will help center gender and equity issues in the new education sector plan as well as in the local and province level education plans and policies.”
Shradha
Cynthia Nyongesa
“The private sector has a lot of expertise, resources and networks that can be leveraged tackle some of the most urgent problems facing education systems in lower-income countries, so it is important to bring them into dialogues and work with them as partners. GPE coordinates public-private partnerships such as the Girls’ Education Awareness Program (GEAP) and also matches private sector and foundation contributions to girls’ education through the Girls’ Education Accelerator. These initiatives allow private sector partners to support work to eradicate key gender equality issues.”
Cynthia
Diana Ayala Escobar
“In Honduras, GPE has helped to develop an Education Sector Plan (PESE 2018-2030) which is the only national education policy that guides the actions of the whole education sector. GPE also supports civil society advocacy on fulfilling government commitments on education. GPE’s Education Out Loud Fund is supporting Foro Dakar Honduras to engage in education national and regional policy dialogues and promote a focus on gender equality throughout the education sector. So GPE has really supported stakeholders in Honduras to drive broader policy dialogue on systems transformation and identify policy reforms to address gaps in the system.”
Diana

4. If you could ask anything from education partners, what would it be?

Cynthia Nyongesa
“Because the future of work demands learners that are digitally literate, schools should be connected to the internet. To prepare for and deliver classes, teachers need the necessary skills to interface with computers. Children will be able to gain research skills earlier if they have access to the internet. For girls, it could be an opportunity to learn about learning barriers and how to receive support if they face any of these challenges, such as child helpline contacts in the event of assault. This can happen through collaboration between the government and the private sector through telecommunication companies.”
Cynthia
Diana Ayala Escobar
“Governments, civil society and donors should establish dialogues between decision makers from different regions to share good experiences and best practices from across the world and emphasize the importance of incorporating gender equality into education for the acceleration of the sustainable development. I think that partners should stablish a dialogue to really advocate for gender equality and amplify the great progress that has been made through the incorporation of gender equality. It is critical to change the narrative and visualize supporting gender equality initiatives as in investment instead of an expense.”
Diana
Shradha Koirala
“There is no shortage of policy commitments for girls’ education and gender equality in education in Nepal. However, the major problem is the implementation of these policies. Education partners should accompany their dialogues and discussion with cross-sectoral collaboration. As COVID showed, stand-alone education advocacy or gender justice movements will not be enough unless they are linked with all dimensions of the sustainable development goals. For this, education partners should diversify their campaigns with cross-sectoral packages of interventions for gender equality that support the development of gender-responsive education systems.”
Shradha
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Gender equality, Youth

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Will like to make an inquiry on the next cohort GPE Youth Leaders application, have been following the good work of the current cohort and will like to know when next round of application will go online. Thank you.

In reply to by Machina

Thank you for your interest in the work of GPE youth leaders. We will be working with our partners to recruit a new cohort of youth leaders in the final quarter of 2022, with a start date of early 2023.

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