A partnership built on mutual accountability for gender equality

GPE’s unique way of working as a partnership relies on mutual accountability among partners. This leverages the expertise of diverse stakeholders to advance a gender-responsive approach to transforming education systems and guaranteeing girls and young women's rights.

March 14, 2024 by Rachel Olivia Booth, GPE Secretariat, Jorge Ubaldo Colin Pescina, GPE Secretariat, and Michelle Djong Hui Ing, GPE Secretariat
5 minutes read
GPE CEO Laura Frigenti meeting with education officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2023. Credit: GPE/David Mugithi
GPE CEO Laura Frigenti meeting with education officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2023. Convening partners including ministry officials, development partners, coordinating agencies and others is one of GPE’s principal ways of working and ensuring that gender is hardwired into everything we do.
Credit: GPE/David Mugithi

Prioritizing gender equality in education planning and delivery remains a critical goal for global development efforts and for our work at GPE.

Context-specific gender norms continue to impede equality. For example, pregnant girls in sub-Saharan Africa are still being excluded from school despite re-entry policies that forbid these practices.

Insight into why these patterns still occur requires research into gender norms and practices impacting the daily lives of young women and men around the world.

GPE’s unique partnership way of working involves diverse stakeholders to develop gender-responsive and inclusive education policies, plans and programs to respond to local challenges.

When mobilized effectively, the partnership can generate real progress on gender equality in and through education for current and future generations.

Gender equality is everyone’s business

In complex partnerships we want to know where responsibility and accountability lie. The danger is that when everyone is responsible, no one takes the lead. To help resolve this challenge, GPE promotes more intentional discussions about the roles actors can play in promoting gender equality.

An opportunity to do this was during the partnership compact workshop in Yemen in January 2024, where partner roles on mutual accountability for gender equality were discussed.

The dialogue recognized that policies and Ministry of Education structures are in place to support the ambition of gender equality, but putting these policies into practice was a challenge and required ongoing engagement from other ministries, development partners and civil society groups.

Another opportunity was the Gender Responsive Education System Planning (GRESP) workshop hosted by the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) in Senegal, in December 2023. With support from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the workshop brought together delegates from 8 African countries, including representatives from ministries of education and civil society.

UNGEI and GIZ hosted a gender-responsive education sector planning workshop in Senegal in December 2023. Credit: Chérif KHOURY Green Media Senegal
UNGEI and GIZ hosted a gender-responsive education sector planning workshop in Senegal in December 2023. Officials from ministries of education, representatives from civil society, coordinating agencies and GPE took part in the event facilitated by Gender@Work.
Chérif KHOURY Green Media Senegal

During the workshop, an exercise encouraged actors to assume different roles across the partnership and consider how they could keep gender equality a focus in planning processes.

This valuable session highlighted several opportunities:

  • the critical role of local education group meetings to maintain a regular focus on gender equality
  • the importance of transparent grant agent selection processes and including expertise on gender and education in selection criteria
  • how government leadership can promote gender equality through curricula
  • the role of civil society in monitoring gender-responsive budgeting and generating evidence for policy dialogue.

Gender equality is everyone’s business, but nominating a group within country-level task teams to hold partners accountable for their roles helps guarantee momentum is maintained. Ministers who act as vocal champions of gender can have a galvanizing effect on partnership engagement in gender equality.

(To learn more on roles and responsibilities of GPE partners, see page 30 of Going Further Together: A partnership Approach to Gender Equality.)

Seeking out diverse voices

Integrating diverse voices and available gender expertise must be part of the partnership’s work to have a solid understanding of the main challenges to education and to define priority reforms. This requires working across geography to consider regional, national and sub-national actors and moving beyond the education sector to link to other sectors such as health.

This may also mean working with different types of actors (government, civil society, multilateral agencies) as mentioned in the model for mutual accountability:

Mutual accountability for gender parity in GPE partnership model
Mutual accountability for gender parity in GPE partnership model

Effective solutions to issues such as the exclusion of pregnant girls from school or boys dropping out to work in local industries can’t be created without insights and advice from civil society.

It’s thus important to set the spaces for different voices to meet, discuss and contribute to policy dialogue. In GPE partner countries, the local education group can play this role to ensure civil society voices are heard.

In Liberia, the Educate Her coalition consists of several civil society organizations and was instrumental in collecting the required data to design policies on girls’ education through an online platform.

Educate Her also focused on building the capacity of local women’s groups to develop and implement their own action plans. The Educate Her coalition was supported by Education Out Loud, GPE's fund for civil society advocacy and social accountability.

Inter-ministry coordination to tackle gender issues at a system level

When considering a holistic approach to education that reaches all children, education policy should include cross-sector coordination with ministries of health, gender and other entities implementing social protection programs.

To ensure that children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds access quality pre-primary education to develop readiness-to-learn capabilities, Sierra Leone’s government envisions coordination between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs as part of a steering committee led by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.

Such coordination will ensure that the main building blocks of the reform are fully and continuously aligned in helping girls and boys from disadvantaged backgrounds to access early childhood development.

Parents pick up their children from the KDEC Pre-Primary School Masorie. Sierra Leone, January 2019. Credit: GPE/Ludovica Pellicioli
Parents pick up their children from the KDEC Pre-Primary School Masorie. Sierra Leone, January 2019.
GPE/Ludovica Pellicioli

Engaging stakeholders at all levels for gender equality

By promoting mutual accountability for gender equality, ensuring diverse civil society voices are included in policy dialogue and fostering cross-sector coordination, GPE and its partners create inclusive and equitable education systems.

GPE continues to talk to partners in advancing gender equality on how we can concretely continue to support one another to achieve gender equality in and through education. In this way, we constantly learn and adapt our effective partnership ways of working, built on mutual accountability, for gender equality.


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