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EAP UNGEI: Newsline

2011 International Women's Day

100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women
East Asia and Pacific Regional UNGEI Statement

For the past 100 years and counting, International Women’s Day has celebrated the great progress made by women – and for women – across the world.  This year’s theme, “equal access to education, training and science and technology: pathway to decent work” commemorates the notable accomplishments of all women who have made great contributions to society.  This includes but is not limited to teachers, activists, astronauts, scientists, doctors, and lawyers.  These women have left their mark in history, whether large or small, and serve as an inspiration for other women to find their own pathways to decent work and a meaningful life through education.

Despite progress that has been made to close gender gaps in education, girls still constitute approximately 54 per cent of children out of school worldwide (UNESCO UIS, 2010).  Education, particularly in the fast growing field of science and technology, can become a key tool to empower women and girls to demand their rights and realize their full potential.   Science and technology presents a vast amount of opportunities for girls and women to obtain decent work; however obvious barriers are visible between those who have access to information and communication technology and those who do not.  To mark this occasion, the East Asia and Pacific United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) urges the renewed commitment to uphold education as an inalienable human right.   This has special significance for girls and women where opportunities and access to education and technology is limited and often times scarce. 

Investing in the education of girls and women delivers high returns on many levels, not only for female educational attainment and lifelong learning opportunities, but also for maternal and children’s health, women’s empowerment, employment opportunities, democracy, income growth and productivity.  Educated women are also aware of HIV prevention strategies, recognize the importance of health care and access it for their entire family.  This is vital to harness the productive capacity of young women, in addition to that of young men, towards long-term and sustainable dynamism and progress of the region.  Countries throughout Asia and the Pacific face the risk of perpetuating the cycle of poverty and disempowerment if we fail in our collective efforts to achieve Education for All, close the education gender gap and overcome the digital divide.   

Concerted action on the part of Governments must be taken to ensure that education policies are inclusive and to make strides towards equal rights and equal opportunities for girls and women.  Such efforts must seek to address the multiplicity of factors and barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing education and technology - cultural, institutional, economic - in order to ensure equal access and inclusion to foundational education and life long learning opportunities for girls and boys.

The East Asia and Pacific Regional UNGEI urges countries to ensure the provision of quality education for all, especially in science and technology, regardless of their sex, ethnicity, caste, income level, disability or any other factor which might exclude them from their right to quality education.  As we commemorate this centennial event and all that has been accomplished in the past 100 years, let us also create a vision for an even brighter future for girls and women across the world.

UNESCO and EAP UNGEI are also proud to release a public service announcement, "Invest in Girls' Education" which can be viewed by clicking here.


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