The impact and experience of emergency situations is profoundly different for girls, women, boys and men. They face different threats and risks, and have different response and coping mechanisms for dealing with the effects of crisis and displacement.
Emergencies can result in loss of livelihoods and changed social roles. Power dynamics within families, communities and societies are often in flux, and can change women’s and men’s status. In such contexts, educational needs change and different barriers for boys and girls often emerge, with girls usually experiencing greater disadvantage. Four of the five countries with the largest gender gaps in education are conflict affected, and girls in crisis contexts are two and a half times more likely to be out of primary school and 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in more stable settings.
Girls tend to face multiple threats to accessing safe and quality education. These can be directly linked to an emergency, such as targeted attacks on girls’ schools and School-Related Gender-Based Violence and displacement. Threats can also be indirectly linked but exacerbated by an emergency such as early marriage, reduced availability of sexual and reproductive health services, increased disadvantage of girls with disabilities and increased costs of education. As costs rise to send children to school in fragile situations, adolescent girls are particularly disadvantaged, where relative to boys - education is often not considered to be an investment. Men and boys are also exposed to various threats which undermine education opportunities. Conflict can have a greater impact on boys’ education in certain contexts where they are more likely to be recruited into armed forces or pressured to take up paid employment.
Shifts in gender roles and relations observed following crises present the opportunity to harness such dynamics and set new precedents for gender equality. Indeed, global research demonstrates that conflict is less likely in contexts where there is gender parity in terms of mean years of schooling Furthermore, emerging promising practice show that when education is available equitably, is of good quality, relevant, conflict and gender–sensitive it can break cycles of conflict and violence, redefine gender norms and promote tolerance and reconciliation. Global commitments reflect increasing prioritization of gender equality as well as education in conflict and crisis settings through the SDGs, Education 2030 Framework for Action, the World Humanitarian Summit and the 2018 Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries.
Further investment in emerging promising practice on specific strategies to implement gender-responsive EiE is key to enabling children and youth to contribute to promoting peaceful, gender-equal, prosperous societies.
- Greater investment in girls’ education in conflict-affected contexts is urgently required as a critical component of achieving the SDGs.
- When education is available equitably, is of good quality, relevant, conflict and gender–sensitive it can be transformative and promote peace and stability.
- Children in conflict-affected countries are at particular risk of School-related Gender Based Violence
- Quality education can equip girls with knowledge to support a country’s recovery, economic growth, peace and stability.
- Conflict is less likely in contexts where there is gender parity in terms of mean years of schooling.
- Four of the five countries with the largest gender gaps in education are conflict affected.
- Nine of the world’s ten lowest levels of gender equality in educational attainment are in fragile states.
This collection was developed with the support of Emilie Rees Smith, Gender, Education and Conflict Specialist at United Nations Girls' Education Initiative.