Gender Equality


UNESCO considers gender equality as a fundamental human right, a building block for social justice and an economic necessity.

It is a critical factor for the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals as well as a goal in and of itself.

Women make up more than two-thirds of the world's 796 million adults without basic literacy skills; women represent less than 30% of the world’s researchers; and women journalists are more exposed to assault, threat or physical, verbal or digital attack than their male counterparts.

UNESCO believes that all forms of discrimination based on gender are violations of human rights, as well as a significant barrier to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Among these 17 goals is the SDG 5, which aims at “reaching gender equality and empowering all women and girls”.

Our message is clear: women and men must enjoy equal opportunities, choices, capabilities, power and knowledge as equal citizens. Equipping girls and boys, women and men with the knowledge, values, attitudes and skills to tackle gender disparities is a precondition to building a sustainable future for all.

UNESCO makes an original and holistic contribution to creating an enabling environment for gender equality through coordinated actions in its five distinct major programmes:

  • In Education, UNESCO addresses gender disparities and promotes equality throughout the education system – in participation in education (access), within education (content, context and practices, delivery modes and assessments), and through education (learning outcomes, life and work opportunities)
  • In the Natural Sciences, UNESCO works towards providing strong role models for women, develops women’s capacities, and supports knowledge generation and dissemination that contributes to advancing equitable and sustainable development
  • In the Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO fosters the inclusion of gender equality considerations in social inclusion and transformation policies. In its activities targeting young people, the Organization places special emphasis on the needs, expectations and aspiration of women in disadvantaged positions. It also develops the capacities of men and boys to become strong gender equality advocates
  • Ensuring that women and men equally enjoy the right to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life is a guiding principle for UNESCO’s work on Culture. The international Cultural Conventions promote the inclusion of all community members in their implementation at the international, national and local levels, encouraging women and men to benefit equally from heritage and creativity
  • UNESCO’s Communication and Information programme spearheads unique initiatives to empower women and girls, such as the development of Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) and the promotion of gender-sensitive Open Educational Resource policies.

UNESCO has been working in all of its domains to promote gender equality and women's rights and empowerment. Gender Equality has been one of two Global Priorities of the organization since 2008. Global Priority Gender Equality is implemented through result-oriented actions both within the Secretariat and in Member States with a wide range of partners.

Through identifying Gender Equality as a global priority for the Organization, UNESCO has committed to making a positive and lasting contribution to women’s empowerment and gender equality around the world.


International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day is a global celebration of all women, everywhere.

It is a rallying call; both for reflection on lessons learned and for accelerating momentum towards gender equality and the empowerment of every girl and woman. It is a day to rejoice in the extraordinary acts of women and to stand together, as a united force to advance gender equality around the world.

In 1945, the Charter of the United Nations Charter of the United Nations  became the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. The UN celebrated its first official International Women's Day on 8 March during International Women’s Year in 1975. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution resolution  proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century across North America and Europe. The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on February 28 1909, which the Socialist Party of America dedicated in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against harsh working conditions. In 1917, women in Russia chose to protest and strike under the slogan "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Their movement ultimately led to the enactment of women’s suffrage in Russia.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 48/104 for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which defines this type of violence as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” Consequently, to solidify this decision, in 1999 the General Assembly proclaimed 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is an obstacle to constructing inclusive and sustainable societies. This is why UNESCO highlights gender equality and non-violence. It is impossible for a society to blossom if half of the population lives in fear of being assaulted.

Observing this day symbolizes the mobilization against violence against women and reminds us that women must be at the heart of change for a culture of peace.

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