02.04.2019 - UNESCO Venice Office

Leaving No One Behind: Ensuring Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promoting Lifelong learning

UN Women

How can we deliver better results on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? In a joint quest for answers, UNECE member States and key stakeholders gathered in Geneva on 21-22 March 2019 for the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region. Closely aligned with the issues addressed at the 2019 High-level Political Forum, the Regional Forum provided a regional angle to the global theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. “Leaving No One Behind: Ensuring Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promoting Lifelong learning was held on 22 March” as a side event.

The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE region attracts government representatives from almost all member States, turning it into a valuable multi-stakeholder platform for SDG solutions. At this second edition, stakeholders from governments, civil society, academia and the private sector shared their experience and discussed concrete solutions on how to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organised jointly by the UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office and the National Commission of Romania for UNESCO, in collaboration with UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and UN Women, the side event provided a platform to discuss intersections between gender equality and education in the UNECE region.

The side event focused on two reports: “The intersection of gender equality and education in South-East Europe: A regional situation analysis of the nexus between SDG 4 quality education and SDG 5 - gender equality” by UNESCO and “Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” by UN Women.

Various stakeholders including governments, civil society, beneficiaries of UN programmes and youth all took part in the event and identified and agreed on how the intersectionality and the interlinks between SDG 4 and SDG 5 could be addressed.

SDG 4 aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. It is an important step to the realisation of peaceful and inclusive societies in the region while building societies with inclusive and sustainable economic growth. However, gender inequalities in educational access and attainment pose a significant threat to the achievement of SDG 4. To sustain this goal, it is vital to acknowledge the central role played by SDG 5 in having a multiplier effect on the accomplishment of all SDGs, particularly SDG 4. It is crucial to understand how gender equality and education are interlinked.

The objectives of the side event were firstly to identify interlinks between SDG 4 and SDG 5 and recognize the contribution of gender equality to the accomplishment of inclusive and equitable quality education and vice versa. Secondly, to understand the main trends and gaps resulting from the analysis of regional data on gender equality in education. Finally, to suggest approaches for overcoming these barriers and bottlenecks to sustainable development.

Several key areas of concern in the interlinkages between SDG 4 and SDG 5 were highlighted; these included recommendations for enhancing gender equality both in and through education. These messages were delivered during the round tables of the Regional Forum, in particular, during that on SDG 4 “Learning without Limits: Lifelong Learning and Inclusive Education”, which was co-moderated by Ana Luiza Massot Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and Krista Pikkat, Director of the UNESCO Almaty Office.

The audience reflected upon and discussed the findings of the UNESCO report, “The intersection of gender equality and education in South-East Europe: A regional situation analysis of the nexus between quality education and gender equality with some common interlinkages made by UN Women and UNESCO to pioneer social change.

Addressing gender disparities and promoting equality throughout the educational system will not only ensure that young girls and women have access to education, but also ensure that they complete their education cycle and gain access to better work opportunities and an improved quality of life. Educational institutions provide empowerment pathways with content and an environment for learning.

The Regional Forum gathered representatives of government entities including ministries responsible for education, ministries responsible for gender equality and national statistical offices, relevant UN entities, gender advocates from the countries of ECA region, the youth.

It was a good momentum to call together all UN Member States to agree and jointly implement a clear roadmap for turning gender equality into action. The ongoing ‘quarter of a century’ review of the Beijing platform for Action implementation (B+25) provides an impetus for continual multi-sector dialogue to ensure the delivery of positive results for all women, men, girls and boys. If gender equality and universal education are placed firmly at the centre of our actions, then the rights of women and girls will be strengthened and the benefits will resonate across all layers of society.

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