4th High Level Dialogue on Gender Equality and Education in Africa

On 5 February 2020, the African Union (AU) International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (CIEFFA),  Permanent Mission of Norway to the African Union and Save the Children organized a High Level Dialogue on Gender Equality and Education convened under the AU theme for 2020 of “Silencing the guns to ensure safe schools and learning outcomes for girls and women for Africa's development.” In attendance were more than 80 Ministers responsible for Education, Gender, Defense and Humanitarian Affairs from selected AU Member States and representatives of national governments, civil society, private sector and international and non-governmental organizations. IICBA was represented at the event by Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of IICBA, and Ms. Beth Roseman, IICBA Consultant as well as Mr. Daniel Ergetachew, Graphic Designer/Photographer.

IICBA has been working with AU CIEFFA on High Level Dialogues on girls’ and women’s education in the past; This was the 4th High Level Dialogue to take place. IICBA supported the event in communications and Dr. Yokozeki co-moderated the second panel discussion on strategies for protecting schools in crises.

The keynote address was given by H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia. In her speech, she referred to her attendance the week prior at the first meeting of UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. She heads the commission that is composed of 18 thought-leaders from education, science, business, politics, academia and the arts. She discussed the important role of girls and women in the futures of education and their need for access to and participation in safe school and learning environments.

The High Level Dialogue aimed to strengthen commitments by taking specific measures to protect girls and boys in education systems in conflict and post-conflict situations; advocate for all Member States to implement the Safe Schools Declaration to protect and secure teaching and learning environments to ease access for children and especially girls in armed conflict and post-conflict zones; and create a platform for sharing and learning on existing reporting mechanisms among stakeholders for protecting education for girls and women in Africa.

At the end of the day, an outcome document was drafted and shared with all participants. Two of the recommendations are what IICBA is already working towards and supporting, namely (1) to encourage Member States to develop gender responsive curriculum, with teaching and learning resources, and train teachers, social works, security forces and representatives of religious organizations and civil societies as peace actors and mediators, and (2) to urge Member States to include education as part of their national peace and security responses as it is the best way to maintain and rebuild peace in conflicts or post-conflict situations. For examples of IICBA’s work in these areas, please see FAWE’s Gender Responsive Pedagogy: A Toolkit for Teachers and Schools   that IICBA helped to develop and IICBA’s 2019 publication Youth Empowerment for Peace and Resilience Building and Prevention of Violent Extremism in Sahel and Surrounding Countries: A Guide for Teachers.