Tony Burdon (right), Deputy Head of DFID, listens as Penina Mlama, UNGEI Global Advisory Committee (GAC) co-chair and Executive Director of Camfed Tanzania, gives opening remarks at the GAC Asia-Pacific Technical Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal.
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 11 June 2008 - Education experts representing United Nations agencies, donor countries, national governments and non-governmental organizations are meeting in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu today to discuss issues related to gender equality in education in the Asia-Pacific region.
Representatives from Camfed, UNICEF, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Nepal's Ministry of Education and the children of Nepal gave opening remarks.
"The low status of women and girls in our society is a major problem," said Ms. Reshmi Chowdhary, member of the Biratnagar Child Club, who spoke on behalf of the children of Nepal. "There are as many boys as girls in Nepal, but fewer girls are able to go to school."
© Sonia Yeo
Members of the Biratnagar Child Club make a statement at the opening session of the UNGEI GAC meeting.
Recommendations from the Nepali children include making secondary schooling free and compulsory, ensuring adequate sanitation facilities, punishing fraud, exploitation and misconduct by teachers, providing school uniforms and supplies to disadvantaged students, make child marriages punishable by law and abolish the dowry system.
Participants discussed the findings of the draft background paper, entitled "Towards Gender Equality in Education: Progress and Challenges in Asia-Pacific Region" and highlighted that the key issues to focus on are: the need to move beyond parity to equality, secondary education, the need for education to be transformative and teacher training, especially of female ones.
During the two-day meeting on the theme of "Equity, Gender and Quality", participants, representing the Global Advisory Committee of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative and senior technical partners from 13 countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam, will look at the progress achieved in girls' education in the Asia-Pacific region and the obstacles remaining to gender equality in education. It is the first time that the Committee convenes at the regional level, a move aimed to focus attention on countries' efforts to ensure that all children, including girls, enjoy their right to education.
Further information on the meeting can be found at www.ungei.org/nepal