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Global committee meets at crucial point for girls' education

Reaching the most marginalized and the financial crisis were major themes discussed at the recent meeting of the Global Advisory Committee (GAC) of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI).

PARIS, France, 8 December 2009 The GAC convened at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 7-8 December for a business and technical meeting, timed to feed its recommendation into the Working Group on Education for All Meeting, to be held 8-10 December at the same location.

UNGEI has been at the forefront of significant progress made in girls' education worldwide. The Regional United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) Network for West and Central Africa established in 2006 based on ECOWAS initiative of introducing girls' education as a key priority area. In addition, national alliances, networks and partnerships advancing girls' education exist in 17 countries in the West and Central Africa region, and national strategies for girls' education are being strengthened by building alliances within all policy frameworks Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), EFA-FTI, education sector programs in several countries in the region. Gender budgeting, gender audit, advocacy and partnership, coordination, harmonization is ongoing. Similarly, in Eastern and Southern Africa, gender audits of education sector policies and plans have been undertaken in several countries. UNGEI and Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) jointly entered into partnership for an innovative gender responsive teacher education project which aims to train a critical number of education experts and teachers on mainstreaming gender in teacher education, and train them on advocacy for gender mainstreaming in national education policies and plans.

Many challenges remain. Current world events and the financial crisis have worsened the situation of girls in several parts of the world, often leading to girls dropping out of school. Conflict has also caused setbacks. Meeting participants noted that Iraq, a country which had reached gender parity as far back as the 1980s, has fallen back extensively on all indicators of gender equality, and in particular on girl's education.  Moreover, once girls make their way out of conflict-affected areas, they continue to face discrimination and many end up facing abuse and exploitation, such as prostitution and violence.

The GAC business meeting reviewed progress against 2009 plans for global, regional and country levels and established priorities for 2010.

Following up on a successful working session in 2007, the technical meeting was held jointly with the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on HIV and AIDS and examined inclusion-related issues, such as reading, teaching the most marginalized and the financial crisis, which are the focus of the forthcoming 2010 Global Monitoring Report.

Key messages of the two meetings were presented to the Working Group meeting, the recommendations of which will feed into the High-Level Group (HLG) meeting, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2010.


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