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Thailand: Newsline

Evidence-based Advocacy for Gender and Education Workshop Sept 8-11 in Bangkok, Thailand

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©UNGEI
Mr. Jon Kapp discusses the analysis of education data with the Timor Leste team as Ms. Mika Mansukhani, Communication Specialist with UNIFEM, an EAP UNGEI partner, also helps with training

Bangkok, Thailand, 8-11 September 2009 - UNICEF and UNGEI joined hands in support of stronger evidence-based advocacy towards gender equality in education. 

“Advocating for gender in education is needed to ensure greater inclusiveness,” said Dr. Chemba Raghavan, Education Consultant with UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

While there has been positive progress towards gender equity in education throughout the Asia-Pacific region, pockets of disparities continue to exist and most countries are still far from achieving gender equality in education. Poverty and socio-economic factors are still barriers facing girls and boys.

In some countries, the number of girls attending and completing basic education is lower than that of boys, especially ethnic girls in poor families in rural areas. In other contexts, it is the boys who are falling behind – enrolling and completing education at lower rates than their female counterparts. 

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© UNGEI
Ms. Nurulhuda Ismail, a country delegate from the Ministry of Education Malaysia, formulating an action plan at the workshop

Advocacy with persuasive data can change the climate in which policies are shaped. Conducting research and using the evidence it provides increases the impact advocacy may have in steering policy. 

In an effort to support national efforts to ensure that gender equity and equality in education are met, UNICEF, together with the East Asia and Pacific UNGEI partnership, organized a workshop to strengthen the links between evidence and advocacy.  

UNGEI is a partnership of organizations dedicated to promoting girls’ education. It was launched in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar and since then is still driven and committed to accelerating action on girls’ education and ensuring that every girl and every boy, receives quality education. To learn more about UNGEI, please visit www.ungei.org.

“One challenge in promoting gender equality in education in this region is caused by strategies that are often not evidence-based and innovative,” said Ms. Maki Hayashikawa, Programme Specialist in Gender and Basic Education with UNESCO Bangkok. “A lot of research is being done throughout the region but it is not being used effectively or enough. It is important to identify how research will be followed up or translated into policy.”

Country delegates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam representing ministries, UN agencies, regional networks and universities came together for this training workshop.

The workshop focused on the development of skills and experiences in utilizing gender and education data for advocacy. A hands-on training on EFAInfo was conducted by Mr. Jon Kapp, Education Specialist and Ms. Tanaporn Perapate, Research Assistant with UNICEF EAPRO to introduce participants to a tool that easily presents and analyzes data for use in advocacy.

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©UNGEI
Two resource persons, Dr. Chemba Raghavan and Ms. Tanaporn Perapate, assisting the Philippines country team with their action plan

EFAInfo is a tool co-developed by UNICEF EAPRO and UNESCO Bangkok that gives easy access to cross-national and sub-national data by indicators and can be used to track a country’s EFA progress and identify gaps. The database is available online at www.devinfo.info/efainfo

 “Supporting advocacy with evidence is necessary in ensuring that advocacy and policy demands are realistic and representative; accurately represent needs, priorities and interests of constituencies; and enhances the credibility and professionalism of the campaign,” explained Mr. Terry Durnnian, Regional Advisor for Education with Save the Children and EAP UNGEI partner.

“’Making messages that motivate’” is also another critical next step in planning advocacy initiatives”, added Mr. Geoffrey Keele, Communication Specialist from UNICEF EAPRO. He reiterated that understanding what the numbers reflect helps to identify what needs to change – politically, economically, culturally – to fix the situation. “Always try to encourage action and possible solutions. For example, if 1/3 of children are suffering from chronic malnutrition, provide an action that the government needs to invest in iodized salt.”

He suggested a few simple guidelines for developing effective messages – defining the goal, identifying the audience, understanding the audience, keeping the message simple and persuasive, and determining the primary message that would resonate and appeal to the broadest audiences.

Throughout the four days, while initial training was provided, country groups progressively worked independently and were actively engaged in identifying three top key issues, drafting action plans and crafting key messages.

Many country delegations outlined concrete plans to put their work to use when they return home - both in advocacy to high level offices and through extended training in follow up workshops later in the year.

A learning guide on evidence-based advocacy for gender and education will also be developed by the East Asia and Pacific UNGEI working group to extend the content of the training to a broader audience in this region and beyond.


 

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