Girls are still 1.5 times more likely than boys to be excluded from primary school, and half of out-of-school primary-aged girls are unlikely to ever enter school. Wealth disparities and the rural-urban divide further exacerbate barriers and vulnerabilities faced by girls, which increase as they get older.
Research suggests that female teachers have an important role in addressing access and quality issues in girls’ educational experiences – especially in places where women are discriminated against and under-represented in political, employment, and leadership positions. This session will explore policy, funding and civil society best practices in empowering women to enter and remain in the teaching profession and their role in providing a gender-responsive education to all children.
- Shortages of female teachers, in particular in secondary education, is a key challenge.
- Governments are urged to put in place a legislative framework, a national gender policy and labour laws to protect against discrimination.
- Teachers have a key role in shaping societal norms, such as attitudes towards women and gender.
- Gender equality can be promoted in teacher training colleges.
- Social marketing can be used to break down cultural and religious barriers, creating the space in which equal opportunities can thrive.
Participants explored policy, funding and civil society best practices in empowering women to enter and remain in the teaching profession and their role in providing gender-responsive education to children.
In Zimbabwe, most female teachers are to be found at the primary levels of the education system, with a severe shortage of female teachers in the secondary education system. There are also shortages in the sciences, engineering, information and communications technology, agriculture, mathematics, financial literacy and entrepreneurship/business studies. School heads, education inspectors and managers tend to be men.
Zimbabwe’s government has implemented a legislative framework to promote gender equality, with a national gender policy covering governance, education and training, employment and gender-based violence. Labour laws protect employees’ rights, including against any form of discrimination. In addition, efforts are being made to improve working conditions. In rural areas, for example, efforts are made to ensure that all new schools are built with optimal infrastructure, including electricity and water supply.
Teachers have a key role in shaping societal norms such as attitudes towards women and gender. The barriers to gender equality in Mozambique, for instance, include inflexible traditional gender roles, poverty and the affordability of and access to secondary and vocational education.
Effective ways to promote gender equality in teacher training colleges include supporting female students through mentoring, actively challenging students’ preconceptions and offering specific modules on gender, gender issues and girls’ and women’s rights. This can be done by creating space for critical debate and reflection as well as by seeking to empower women as strong role models.
Discrimination in training colleges, a lack of career advancement options and inadequate remuneration, working conditions, support mechanisms and supervision were identified as being among the key challenges facing female teachers. One recommendation was to develop comprehensive national teacher policies with a gender lens addressing issues such as teacher development, teacher management, professional autonomy and social dialogue (between trade unions, governments and other stakeholders). The idea is that developing a systematic approach can attract national funding.
One recommendation is to encourage gender sensitivity via a kind of “social marketing” campaign that emphasises the advantages of gender equality and explains what society misses out on if it does not provide equal opportunities. Social marketing can be used to break down cultural and religious barriers and, as a result, create the space in which equal opportunities can thrive.