The 2011 Global Action Week on EFA

School children in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya

©UNESCO/D. Willetts
- School children in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya

The 2011 GAW took place from 2 to 8 May. The campaign focused on the theme of "Girls' and Women's Education", a UNESCO priority. The core campaign activity was "The Big Story" around which many other activities were organized.

Education is a universal human right – for all girls and boys alike – and a key for empowerment. Female education has very high returns on human development. It is an engine to boost progress towards all Millennium Development Goals. Educated women are more likely to resist violence, know about HIV/AIDS, delay marriage, have access to antenatal care and better medical treatment, improve their children’s health, send their children to school, and participate in political meetings, among other benefits.

In 2000, governments pledged to achieve gender equality in education by 2015. Significant advances have been made in the past decade, particularly in girls’ enrollments to primary education. However, gender discrimination persists across all educational levels, and often combines with other factors of marginalization. Only four years before the 2015 target date, many countries still have a long way to go and are likely to miss their pledges.

UNESCO seized the opportunity of GAW to galvanize strong political support to achieve gender-related goals in education. During the campaign, a number of UNESCO field offices and Associated Schools organized specific activities and called for urgent action in favor of girls’ and women’s education.

The 2011 GAW was part of a sequence of important international events for gender equality and EFA in general, such as the 55th Commission on the Status of Women (22 February - 4 March 2011); the celebration of International Women's Day (8 March); the 10th meeting of the High-Level Group on EFA (Jomtien, Thailand, 22-24 March 2011) and the 2011 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (Geneva, Switzerland, 4 - 8 July 2011). World Teachers’ Day (5 October) also focused on gender.

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