Right to education still not a reality for many women and girlsListen /
Despite international consensus on the need for the elimination of discrimination against women in the field of education, an estimated 35 million girls are still unable to attain the education they require, according to the UN Human Rights chief.
Ms Navi Pillay says entrenched patriarchal systems and harmful gender stereotypes coupled with the lack of socioeconomic empowerment continue to deny girls and women the right to education.
Addressing a meeting on girls' and women's rights to education organized by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva, Ms Pillay noted that failure to respect rights of girls and women to education violates their rights as human beings.
Furthermore, she said it keeps the concerned societies from moving forward.
"Girls are far more likely than boys to perform hours of unpaid work in the home, including care-giving, cooking and cleaning. Their parents are less likely to enroll them in school. This continuing imbalance of power between the sexes in the public domain underscores the fact that education has not significantly addressed the strategic needs of women as a group – partly due to entrenched patriarchal systems and harmful gender stereotypes. Our primary concern must now be how we can advance the right to education, in order to facilitate the rights and strategic needs of girls and women. How can educational institutions help eliminate harmful stereotypes regarding the traditional roles of women and men?
The CEDAW committee is holding s series of discussions aimed at providing authoritative guidance to States parties on how to ensure full compliance with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the right of women and girls to education.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.