|A girl carries her slate and schoolbooks in the village of Essaout, Senegal.|
NEW YORK, USA, 8 March 2010 – This year, International Women's Day is focusing on the theme: ‘Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.’ Though significant progress has been made towards gender parity and equality in education, many challenges remain.
According to the latest UNICEF estimates, girls make up more than half of the 101 million children of primary school age that are not in school.
To look at the advances made and challenges ahead for girls’ education, UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello spoke to Tamara Kreinin, Executive Director of Women and Population at the United Nations Foundation, and the Hon. Ambassador Professor Samson Kagengo Ongeri, Kenya’s Minister of Education and UNICEF Champion for Child-Friendly Schools.
Girls often left out
During her 25-year career in the private and public sectors, Ms. Kreinin has worked around the globe on issues affecting young girls and adolescents. She noted that girls are frequently left out of data collection and programming.
“You oftentimes find that when there is a programme for youth, 90 per cent of the participants are boys,” said Ms. Kreinin.
“The girls are still being pushed aside for the boys, and we have to put them front and centre,” she added.
Challenges in Kenya
Minister Ongeri discussed the Kenyan Government’s efforts to bring more girls into his country’s education system.
Despite the strides that Kenya has made in many parts of the country, getting girls from the nomadic districts to attend school has proved challenging. The enrolment rate for boys in the nomadic areas remains markedly higher than that for girls.
However, some progress has been made. “We have been able to create mobile schools. We’ve also been able to create low-cost boarding schools in order to attract the young boys and girls into our schools,” said Minister Ongeri. “And also by the provision of other services, like HIV and AIDS programmes, and water and sanitation programmes, we have been able to maintain our retention rate reasonably within reach.”
Listen to the podcast
Click here to listen to this UNICEF Radio podcast discussion.
UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello talks about girls' education with Tamara Kreinin of the United Nations Foundation and the Hon. Ambassador Professor Samson Kagengo Ongeri of Kenya.