Session Submission Summary

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Gender Equity and Inclusion: Ensuring access to quality education for all

Mon, March 6, 11:30am to 1:00pm, Sheraton Atlanta, 1, Capitol South (North Tower)

Session Submission Type: Group Panel

Description of Session

Prior to beginning an education project, implementers must understand, consider, and adapt to the local country context and understand how gender factors in to that society. Gender impacts the ways in which individuals behave and interact with others. These deeply engrained norms can influence whether a project has a positive impact or actually reinforces negative gender norms. When developing gender-sensitive educational programs, it is important to consider the degree to which gender roles, expectations, and traditions influence both boys and girls. These considerations, among others, can influence the effectiveness of an intervention and dramatically alter community dynamics and responses to a program. In this panel, the presenters will discuss their experiences implementing programs in Zambia and Guinea to better address the barriers for both girls and boys in achieving the goal of quality universal education for all.

Perspective/Theoretical Framework:
Quality and equity are inextricably linked with respect to education. As Gene B. Sperling and Rebecca Winthrop outline in What Works in Girls Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment, we must focus on quality education both boys and girls, though this must be done with a keen eye on the necessary support that young girls might need to ensure equitable access for all. In order for girls and boys to have equal access to a quality education, communities, schools, and classrooms should create safe and accessible learning environments for all children. While different countries and communities experience varying challenges in making education accessible for all children, gender assessment tools can provide a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of a lack of equitable access to quality education.

Importance/Connect to conference Theme:
Quality education, a fundamental right for all children, is essential for future generations to develop the skills to become lifelong learners. While much has been done to ensure and improve educational access for children across the globe, we must continue to ask questions and deepen our understanding in order to design and adapt programs to the local context. Through classroom observations, focus groups, and discussions with children, caregivers, teachers, and community members, project implementers can gain insight into the gender norms of a community. This information can inform program design to address the root causes of unequal access and opportunity. As we prepare both boys and girls for future success, we must make sure that their schools and classrooms provide safe and equitable opportunities for them to develop the key skills to gain employment or create new economic opportunities.

This panel will highlight programs which have used Gender Assessments to inform, design, and adapt their educational programs. The panel will open with an introduction to gender assessments and the role they can play to inform more inclusive project design. The panel will also highlight programs in Zambia and Guinea working to address equity at the system, community, and classroom levels.

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