News and Events: Press releases

Dubai: Second Arab Regional Media Forum - Girls' Education

Media Advisory

- UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa
- World Food Programme
- Dubai Press Club
- Dubai Humanitarian City
  - Arab Institute for Human Rights
  - Al Bayan Newspaper (UAE)
- Center for Arab Women for Training & Research (CAWTAR)

WHAT:  Second Arab Regional Media Forum – Girls' Education

WHEN:  May 2-4, 2006

WHERE:  Traders Hotel, Dubai (UAE)


UNICEF, in partnership with the World Food Programme, UNESCO, the Dubai Humanitarian, the Dubai Press Club, Al Bayan Newspaper, the Arab Institute for Human Rights and the Center for Arab Women for Training & Research are holding the Second Arab Regional Media Forum, an event calling for enhanced partnerships between media professionals, development agencies and humanitarian partners to promote sustainable opportunities for girls' primary and secondary schooling in the region.

With a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality, the Forum will provide participants with accurate and up-to-date information on the situation of girls' education in Arab countries. Testimonials and presentations from media producers, academics and UN organisations will complement the event's agenda.

Recent data for the Arab world shows that in the past decade, girls outperformed boys in almost every academic area and net primary school enrolments for boys and girls compare favourably with world averages. In the vast majority of Arab countries, girls have a lower repetition rate than boys. However, Arab girls of all ages still face serious problems in terms of completing their schooling.  Many are withdrawn from school near or after puberty, and many drop out due to early marriage. Within a context of poverty, girls of all ages often carry a heavy load of domestic duties, hampering their studies and leading many to leave school.

But apart from improving access, the challenge is to improve quality at all levels, which implies giving extra attention to teacher training, curriculum upgrades and the introduction of educational reforms which respond to the particular circumstances of girls and women.

Globally, girls make up the majority of the more than 115 million children out of school. Their numbers increase in times of conflict, social crisis, poverty and natural disasters. Girls’ education is a human rights issue and the obligation of all governments. For UNICEF, ensuring the right to education, for girls as well as boys, is both a moral and social imperative.

The world has already failed to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005. The pledge made by all the world’s governments through the UN Millennium Development Goals expects countries to achieve so at all levels by 2015. Coming up short in this endeavour will call into question the sincerity of national and global commitments and condemn yet another generation of girls to ignorance, poverty and exclusion.

The Dubai Forum will examine factors influencing the continued gender gap in education in the region as deliberation is expected to highlight the role of media professionals in mobilizing community support, building action to gain from experiences, keeping initiatives on track and serving as monitors of accountability posed on policy and decision makers.

For further information, please contact:

• M. Anis Salem, Regional Communication Adviser, UNICEF MENA-RO
E-mail: Mobile: 962-79-557-9991

• Wolfgang Friedl, Communication Officer, UNICEF MENA-RO,
E-mail: Mobile: 962-79-573-2745


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