Read the synthesis report of the online discussion here.

Watch the concluding webinar with experts Kate Redman (GEM Report team, UNESCO); Liri Kopaçi-Di Michele (Council of Europe); and Nora Fyles (UNGEI) and Hendrina Doroba (FAWE)


Good quality education and lifelong learning play a central role for realising substantive gender equality and sustainable development. This is reflected in SDG 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and in the Global Education 2030 Agenda, which has “inclusion, equity and gender equality” as a core focus area.

Education is a fundamental human right for all, yet girls still have fewer opportunities than boys to gain access to, complete and benefit from a quality education, particularly at upper primary and secondary levels. Girls often face multiple layers of disadvantage, including strong social and cultural norms that privilege boys’ education, inadequate sanitation facilities in schools, and negative classroom environments where they may face violence.

Learning environments, in particular, play a significant role in shaping girls’ and boys’ education and influencing their future. This includes the institutional culture, norms and practices; teacher behaviour, expectations and interactions with male and female students; peer group norms; the curriculum; as well as pedagogy and instructional materials, including textbooks. While this environment is a powerful opportunity to challenge gender stereotypes, it can also perpetuate them by portraying women in passive or supporting roles in textbooks or by overlooking issues such as gender-based violence, sexual rights or early marriage in curricula.

In this context, Wikigender partnered with UNESCO, the Global Partnership for Education, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initivative (UNGEI), Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the Council of Europe, and the Health Behavior in School-aged Children Study (HBSC) for an online discussion on the theme “Addressing gender stereotypes in the classroom: how to achieve a conducive environment for adolescent girls’ learning?”. It was centred on new evidence and key findings from UNESCO’s 2016 Global Education Monitoring ReportGender Review, and Policy Paper on “Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development”.

The discussion ran on the Wikigender platform from 16-20 January 2017 and concluded with a webinar. It brought together diverse networks of international development actors, researchers, civil society, students and NGOs. It benefited from country-level perspectives from UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education “Better Life, Better Future”.

 Guiding questions

  • How is the learning environment influencing adolescent girls’ education outcomes? What are some of the recent trends in the development of teaching materials (including textbook content)?
  • What are some of the policies, campaigns and initiatives that successfully helped to counter gender stereotypes in school settings? Which strategies are more efficient and why? How can we scale them up?
  • How can we advocate for a stronger measurement framework and solidify indicators on gender inequality in education, so that we know where progress is being made and where challenges remain?

Key links