22 November 2006, Issue No. 6 - Gender and Early Childhood Care and Education
“Discrimination against females ... occurs from the minute they are born. Across the world, in third world countries, girls are denied any love and respect from their own parents because of their gender! Is that fair? No, it is not, but these people cannot see that women are humans too, they have rights as well...”. - “komil”, 16, from the UK, quote from UNICEF's Voices of Youth discussion forum
UNGEI brings gender onto High-Level Group agenda
The theme of this year’s Education for All (EFA) High-Level Group (HLG) meeting, held in Cairo, Egypt, from 14-16 November, was early childhood care and education (ECCE). The HLG meeting was preceded on 12 November by an UNGEI Technical Meeting titled “Gender and Early Childhood Care and Education”, which examined the links between gender, ECCE and school readiness. Discussion was based on the 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR), launched jointly on 26 October by UNESCO and UNICEF.
Ministers of Education and education officials from Burundi, Egypt, the Gambia, Ghana, Jordan and Kenya were among the participants who discussed policies and strategies to better position gender-focused ECCE in national plans and priorities. The outcomes of this technical meeting were fed into the EFA HLG meeting, which presented an opportunity to influence countries to make their programmes more gender-focused.
Although the GMR 2007 addresses the importance of gender equality, its focus is on gender parity in preschools. UNGEI advocated for a more comprehensive approach addressing the need for early gender socialization and moving beyond parity to equality.
UNGEI's online discussion series was launched in October 2006. The first eDiscussion focused on gender socialization, one of the most basic issues in early childhood development, with important implications for girls in particular. The objective of the discussion was to decide what is meant by gender socialization, when it starts, how it can lead to discrimination and, most importantly, how it can promote gender equity in a society. Participants explored some of the positive and negative gender roles in their societies. Outcomes of this discussion were fed into the UNGEI Technical Meeting in Cairo.
UNICEF advocates an integrated approach to early childhood that is time-tested, globally applicable and effective. A major focus of this approach is ensuring that girls and women have good nutrition and health care throughout their lives, including during pregnancy and childbirth. Children cannot thrive where women’s rights are not honoured.