Gender transformative actions are needed to ensure the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl

In light of the recent report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, which was presented today before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and to which Defence for Children International contributed, DCI delivered an oral statement. On behalf of the Girls Advocacy Alliance, DCI shared key recommendations promoting gender transformative actions to ensure that every girl can enjoy, equally, her right to education.

Please find the statement surrender

Thank you Mr. President,

This statement is delivered on behalf of the Girls Advocacy Alliance[1], which works to affect policy change for girls’ rights and gender equality.

We welcome the recent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, which rightly points out that gender stereotypes continue to underpin all other obstacles to girls’ equal access to quality education, and that the gender gap only intensifies from post-primary education onwards[2].

In schools, discriminatory gender norms are often reinforced and normalized, thereby relaying “conventional” expectations for girls and boys, including completion of education and fields of study to pursue.

Mr. President,

Goals 4 and 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are inextricably connected and mutually reinforcing. In this sense, one of the key measures of the quality of education must be the extent to which gender equality is integrated into education. This can make all the difference for a girl’s future opportunities and outcomes.

We would therefore like to recommend States to:

Adopt gender-transformative school curricula and programmes that are relevant and responsive to girls’ views and needs, including on sexual and reproductive health and rights. States should also encourage and allow girls to freely choose and engage in non-traditional fields of study.


Guarantee an equal presence of female teachers – who can act as role models – in all levels of education and ensure that all teachers are qualified and adequately trained, including on gender equality and human rights.


Take all appropriate measures to guarantee that girls are safe on their way to/from school, and in schools, including by providing transportation, separate, sheltered latrines and menstrual hygiene facilities, and ensure that effective measures are put in place to combat all forms of gender-based violence;


Finally, States should ensure that these measures follow a human rights-based approach and involve all stakeholders, in particular girls.

Download the statement in PDF format


[1] Plan International, Defence for Children International, ECPAT International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and Global March against Child Labour are implementing partners in the Girls Advocacy Alliance, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

[2] UNESCO notes that the gender gap in lower secondary education remains wide and prevalent in nearly 60 per cent of countries worldwide. UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report 2016, pp. 17-19

This post is also available in: FR, ES