Gender Equality in Education in Emergency

Eva Iversen and Else Oestergaard

Forced Migration Review, Issue 60, March 2019


Conflict usually reinforces existing barriers to education and gender disparities. Evidence from Oxfam IBIS’ education in emergencies (EiE) programming identifies several barriers to gender equality in education including: (a) gender stereotypes and the devaluing of girls’ education—in times of conflict the gains that have been made in promoting gender equality can be lost; (b) economic deprivation that leads poor families to prioritize the education of boys, and the increasing rate of early marriage in displacement situations; and (c) risk of sexual harassment or violence on the way to school or at school, which increases with conflict. The authors call for all actors involved in emergency settings to incorporate gender responsiveness into their education programming. Interventions should be based on an analysis of how conditions for male and female children and youth are affected by crisis, specific risks they are exposed to, and any barriers to their education and safety. Interventions may include: (1) challenging gender stereotypes by sensitizing parents on the importance of education for both boys and girls in a time of crisis, training teachers on how to promote gender equality and safety in the classroom, and engaging female teachers to act as role models and advocates for girls’ education; (2) addressing economic barriers, e.g. by offering free school meals, providing free school learning materials, giving access to micro-credit programs, or providing cash transfers to girls; and (3) eliminating violence and ensuring safety, e.g. ensuring that the route to school is safe, providing separate toilet facilities for girls and boys, offering psychosocial support for children affected by violence, involving school management, parents’ associations and teachers, and sensitizing parents and communities.