Africa: Conference on Women’s Education Calls for Equitable Access

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The high-level conference gathered senior officials of the AU and African countries, representatives of various United Nations agencies and other development partners, as well as heads of different civil society organizations, representatives of African girls and women, and academia.

On Wednesday, experts and decision-makers attending the inaugural African Union (AU) Pan-African Conference on Girls and Women’s Education called for equitable access to quality education and skills development for girls and women in Africa.

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The July 2-5 continental gathering at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is held under the theme “Prioritizing Girls and Women’s Education: A strategy for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.”

The high-level conference gathered senior officials of the AU and African countries, representatives of various United Nations agencies and other development partners, as well as heads of different civil society organizations, representatives of African girls and women, and academia.

Addressing the conference, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, underscored the importance of ensuring equitable access to quality education in Africa and the urgent need to enhance African girls and women’s access to quality education.

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Governments, UN Agencies, development partners, CSOs and girls and women have come from across the globe to discuss critical issues around the girls and women’s education. pic.twitter.com/mDSDUQuSHs

— African Union CIEFFA (@AU_CIEFFA) July 2, 2024

She said ensuring better access to education and skills development for African girls and women will help create an inclusive continent while boosting women’s role in socioeconomic and governance fields.

“Education, as resource, is a game changer in our daily lives, particularly for women’s empowerment. Education helps to eliminate gender inequality, closing the gaps in social, economic and political spheres,” Nsanzabaganwa said.

The inaugural edition of the pan-African conference on girls and women’s education is held in recognition of the AU theme of the year 2024: “Educate an African fit for the 21st century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.”

Mohamed Belhocine, AU commissioner for education, science, technology and innovation, called on African countries and concerned actors to redouble efforts toward ensuring improved access to quality education and skills development, with due emphasis given to girls and women.

Noting education’s crucial role for the sustainable development of Africa, Belhocine reiterated the need to strengthen continental commitments to harness the potential of education as a critical enabler in addressing Africa’s development bottlenecks and to realize major development aspirations.

In the coming days, conference participants are expected to deliberate on strategic methods in promoting equitable access to quality education for girls and women, and particularly in humanitarian situations, according to the AU.

They are also expected to identify challenges, recommendations, and key solutions for the advancement of girls and women’s education and skills development in Africa, while galvanizing sustainable financing to girls and women’s education.

The conference is also expected to disseminate continental advocacy toward the adoption of gender transformative and inclusive policies and frameworks.

Various side events and discussions will also be held on the margins of the conference to deliberate on issues such as gender-responsive policies and planning, education financing, tackling gender-based violence and harmful socio-cultural practices, and access and completion of girls’ education. 

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