IWD 2021: UIL and partners call for gender equality in and through lifelong learning

4 March 2021

Education is key for realizing true gender parity, but equality in access to and opportunities for learning for people of all genders remains a challenge around the world. Poverty, geographical isolation, minority status, disability, early marriage and pregnancy, gender-based violence, and traditional attitudes regarding the status and role of women are among the many obstacles that prevent women and girls from fully exercising their right to participate in, complete and benefit from education.

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) continues to advocate for gender equality in and through lifelong learning, with a particular focus on literacy, adult learning and education (ALE), and the work of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC).

Together with our partners, we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 by calling on all stakeholders to realize gender equality in and through lifelong learning.


‘Lifelong learning contributes to gender equality in Africa because it promotes personal development, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability.’

H.E. Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Sciences and Technology, African Union Commission

‘Transformative adult learning and education plays a critical role in addressing systemic and intergenerational inequalities and discrimination in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere in the world.’

Maria Helen Dabu, Secretary-General, Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)

‘It is time for generation equality. Our sustainable future, our societies need the valuable contributions of all genders. Education is one of the keys to unlock this contribution.’

Katja Dörner, Mayor of the UNESCO GNLC learning city of Bonn, Germany

‘If we do not act now we will be confronted with severe long-term effects on education and gender equality, particularly in regards to the most marginalized.’

Samah Shalaby, Gender Focal Point, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning


About International Women’s Day

The UN celebrated its first official International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year in 1975. Since then, the annual event has served as an opportunity to celebrate achievements in gender equality and women’s empowerment, but also to critically reflect on the work that still needs to be done to ensure worldwide gender parity. It is a day to recognize the extraordinary acts of women and to stand together, as a united force, to advance gender equality around the world.