Girls' and Women's Right to Education

Date posted09/09/2014

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held a half-day general discussion on girls’ and women’s right to education, in view of receiving inputs and contributions for its draft General Recommendation on the issue. This meeting was held during CEDAW’s 58th session.
In an opening statement, Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that despite the progress made in education for girls, the continuing imbalance of power between the sexes in the public domain underscored the fact that education had not significantly addressed the strategic needs of women as a group, partly due to entrenched patriarchal systems and harmful gender stereotypes. The primary concern must now be to advance the right to education, and continue the drive to enable all girls to attend school; currently, 35 million girls did not.  The education sector should embed human rights in all its processes and girls should be learning personal and leadership skills that promoted their effective participation in public life.

Barbara Bailey, Chair of CEDAW’s Working Group on girls’ and women’s right to education, said that the interpretation of provisions under article 10 of the Convention (right to education) was very narrow, and the information provided in States parties’ reports focused primarily on the right to education; they were totally silent on ways in which the gender regime of schools, marked by entrenched patriarchal ideologies, practices and structures, shaped the daily experience of girls in school, exposing them to an environment which could be physically, emotionally and sexually abusive.

CEDAW’s 58th session took place between 30 June and 18 July, and reiveiwed women’s rights records in the Central African Republic, Georgia, India, Lithuania, Mauritania, Peru and Swaziland.

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