The EU attaches great importance to access and participation of women and girls to education and training. Education and training are essential to the development of Europe as a knowledge-based society, which is one of the key components for a sound and competitive economy.
Equal access by girls and women to education remains a problem in many countries due to gender discrimination and perceptions that devalue them.] 55% of the “out of school children” are girls. The factors which cause more girls than boys to leave education which include sexual and gender-based violence, early marriage and pregnancy and discriminatory attitudes to the importance of female education need to be urgently addressed. ] Most women, especially those working in the informal economy, do not have access to training and lifelong learning opportunities. In rural areas, women are mostly deprived of solid basic education and are most of the time confined to household keeping or low-skilled activities with low recognition, low payments and social protection. Moreover, unequal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in all countries does not allow them for skills and personal development.
Quality education and training should be at the heart of any development agenda. MDG2 aims at ensuring that all children, everywhere, have access to good quality primary schooling and are given the possibility of completing it in the best conditions. MDG3 targets the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education.
At this level, the European Union adopted, in June 2010, the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development which aims at accelerating the achievement of the MDGs, and confirmed the EU commitment to achieving gender equality and promoting womens human rights in developing countries in all areas, including in education and training
Within the EU, full access to quality education is in general a reality even though some marginalized groups, such as Roma and persons with disabilities do not always benefit from it due to discrimination and social exclusion.
Sustained and equitable access to education is a priority of the Europe 2020 Strategy for jobs and growth. By 2020 the EU and its Member States aim to reduce school drop-out rates to less than 10% and to increase the share of 30-34 years old having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 40%.
Although in the EU women generally attain high levels of education 60 percent of new university graduates are women and young women are on average achieving much better results than men in most disciplines, gender differences do persist in terms of academic and vocational choices, as men still predominate in mathematics, science and technology in higher education.
Only by addressing gender differences in educational outcomes, challenging gender stereotypes and promoting gender mainstreaming can Europe achieve a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Continued unequal sharing of care giving responsibilities in the family is also a factor.
In the EU the organization and operation of primary and secondary national school systems as well as higher education is the sole competence of the Member States. The EUs acts in this field through political cooperation, which it instigates and invigorates amongst Member States, and through important funding schemes
What are the main challenges for the achievement of the MDG2 and MDG3 goals? What would be the most effective approach to address gender issues at all levels and types of education (primary and secondary schooling, vocational training, informal learning, higher education including the arts)?
Early school in many European countries leaving affects boys primarily. What could be a solution, in a gendered perspective in which the needs and interests of both girls and boys are taken into account ?
What concrete actions may be implemented to alleviate gender discrimination in school, education and training, and gender stereotypes in educational career choices, and to combat sexual harassment and gender-based violence including sexual assault ?
How could we encourage and support girls and women to embrace careers in the areas of science, mathematics and technology? How can we encourage and support boys and men to embrace careers in which working with people is in focus, such as careers for various forms of care giving?