Hardwiring gender equality in GPE 2025

Three ways gender equality is being hardwired in GPE’s strategy and the three partnership commitments we need to make it work.

March 09, 2022 by Christin McConnell, GPE Secretariat, and Jorge Ubaldo Colin Pescina, GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
Fourth grade students, Somsanouk Primary School, Pak Ou District, Lao PDR. December 2018. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Fourth grade students, Somsanouk Primary School, Pak Ou District, Lao PDR. December 2018.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

A key element of the GPE 2025 strategy is the “hardwiring” of gender equality across the work of the partnership. With gender equality hardwired into the education system transformation process, GPE can support counties in reaching their own ambitious goals towards gender equality. What does this look like in practice?

1. Comprehensive country dialogue on gender equality

Gender equality is not a new commitment for GPE. Building upon the 2020 Gender Strategy and Policy, Gender equality has been integrated across the pathway to system transformation that characterizes the GPE 2025 strategy.

As the operating model is being implemented, country partners are integrating gender equality in country-level dialogue and rethinking how to better integrate gender equality into the education sector planning process. For example, El Salvador has embedded gender equality into early learning, its priority reform, as a result of engaging with GPE 2025.

The program being developed will tackle biased social norms from early on, helping to address cultural problems over time, such as gender-based violence – a major challenge in the country.

This is only the beginning. The systems-transformation approach will yield more country assessments and diagnostics of barriers disproportionately affecting girls or boys, prioritized education reforms addressing the root causes of gender inequality, and better alignment of education partners around gender.

2. A strong financial commitment to gender equality

GPE 2025 is putting gender equality at the center of the discussion on domestic financing and GPE’s own grant process.

As part of the System Capacity Grant, partner countries can tap into (up to US$5m) in funding towards gender diagnostics and reinforcement of country capacity to identify, design, and implement strategies for greater gender equality in education.

With issues of gender inequality in the spotlight, governments and local education groups determine which groups and interventions are targeted for support under the (up to US$162.5m) System Transformation Grant.

Financing is also being used as an incentive to bring gender equality, and girls’ education specifically, to the center of the discussion in countries where it is needed most. The Girls’ Education Accelerator, a US$250 million funding window intended to support 30 countries to break down barriers to girls’ education.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the complex set of challenges made it difficult to prioritize an area of policy reform that will bring about system transformation.

Discussions triggered in the engagement with GPE’s new model led to partners agreeing that insufficient data and coordination have been hindering progress on the country’s system-wide girls’ education strategy. Such evidence supports the conversations taking place at the country level, as partners work to align themselves behind priority reforms and better coordinate their initiatives to break down the barriers to gender equality.

3. Inclusive local and global partnerships for gender equality advocacy and action

GPE 2025 translates the hardwiring of gender equality to putting gender equality at the center of partnership discussions, including dedicated sessions at the country level, with board members, and in global forums.

GPE 2025 also continues the work on gender responsive education sector planning and capacity building, including through the participation in the Gender at the Center Initiative.

The hardwiring of gender equality has also led GPE to engage in a wider set of issues that act as barriers to gender equality. Here GPE has also engaged through a partnership approach, including its participation in the Comprehensive Sexual Education Partnership forum.

Finally, we continue to strengthen a partnership approach to gender equality by supporting advocacy and social accountability by civil society through Education Out Loud.

These early gains showcase the value of applying a holistic gender lens to our strategy, with more work to come as more countries engage.

However, these examples also show that success in gender equality is dependent on the ownership and effort of the full partnership. These are three ways in which the partnership can support the hardwiring of gender equality:

  1. Foster and strengthen dialogue at country level: GPE 2025 strengthens country dialogue and is set to put the key questions on the table to trigger reflection on gender equality. However, GPE 2025 cannot replace a robust and inclusive system dialogue at the county level. Partners present in the country need keep gender equality at the center of the policy dialogue, support the relevant actors (including teachers and civil society) to be part of the discussion, and ensure that the commitments made (including those around priority reforms) are fulfilled.
  2. Support evidence-based decision making: The quality assurance processes within GPE 2025 are set to prompt a discussion on evidence-based decision making. This brings the conversation and ownership of evidence to the country level, with GPE as a facilitator, not an arbiter of evidence. Partners, and particularly those playing the role of Grant Agents, need to ensure staff on the ground have access to the latest evidence, including cost- effectiveness of programs intended to support girls’ education or innovative program design that leverages research on behavioral science (to name a few examples).
  3. Acknowledge the role of gender for boys: Because of historical patterns there is a risk of confounding gender equality and girls’ education. While girls remain disproportionately disadvantaged in several GPE partner countries, there is a risk of not acknowledging and addressing the gendered issues affecting boys. GPE’s voice in promoting access to education with learning for all children needs to be supported across the partnership for children of all genders, particularly those in disadvantaged backgrounds that face compounding challenges.

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