By Dr Nitya Rao
It is heartening that the Nobel Committee has awarded the 2011 Peace Prize to three women who have tirelessly campaigned for peace and democracy. These new laureates join a small group of just 15 women in the 110-year history of the prize. One of the winners, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, virtually rebuilt her country following 14 years of civil war. During the war, teachers fled and an entire generation missed out on an education. President Sirleaf began her programme of reconstruction by introducing free schooling, and since 2005 the enrolment of girls has increased by 40 per cent. She also introduced tougher anti-rape laws to protect women from sexual crimes. Throughout her work, her priority has been to empower women in all areas of life.
For girls and women, education is a key building block in the process of empowerment. Along with equal economic opportunities and use of productive assets, equal representation in decision-making bodies, and freedom from drudgery, violence and coercion, it is an essential ingredient in achieving gender equality. Over the last year, UNGEI has worked to promote a focus on gender equality in educational processes. Even more importantly, it has advocated for positive policy changes at all levels by strengthening effective multi-stakeholder partnerships. ... read more >>