Focus on Women

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is central to the work of UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO and inextricably linked to its efforts to promote the right to education and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) through the Education 2030 Framework for Action.

Ensuring a fundamental right to education for girls and women has been an international commitment for several decades: the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) affirmed literacy as a component in addressing gender equity. Girls and women with low literacy and basic skills often face various obstacles. A wide range of factors, such as poverty, geographical isolation, ethnicity, language, physical or mental disability, and low socio-economic status which hinder women and girls from exercising their right to education may exacerbate the challenges these women face. Acquiring and practicing literacy and basic skills play a vital role in transforming the lives of millions of women who have received little or no formal education.

Currently UIL is working with governments and civil society to enhance the quality of literacy and basic skills policies and programmes with a focus on women through policy advocacy and action-oriented research that reach out to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of young people and adults. By equipping women with literacy and basic skills and by providing them with quality learning opportunities, we can support their empowerment processes and those of their families, communities and societies.