Bridge International Academies Emphasizes Education’s Role In Gender Equality At UN Conference

As the globe continues to celebrate Women’s month in March, the inaugural regional Gender Equality conference hosted by the UN Global Compact marked a pivotal moment in the global conversation on gender parity.

Under the theme “Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment,” the event aimed to catalyze action and drive tangible progress towards gender equality.

Interestingly, the African Union declared 2024, as the Year of Education, emphasizing the crucial role education plays in transforming societies and empowering individuals.

This convergence of initiatives points deeply to the interconnectedness between gender equality and education – two pillars fundamental to achieving sustainable development and social progress.

During a recent panel discussion titled “Moving from Policy to Practice: Domesticating International, National Gender Diversity Commitments at the Company Level,” Griffin Asigo, Managing Director of Bridge International Academies, passionately articulated the pivotal role of education in advancing gender equality.

Asigo emphasized that true access to quality education is contingent upon achieving gender equality, and conversely, fostering a gender-equal world requires transformative changes within the education sector.

In Kenya, despite significant progress, women and girls continue to face challenges in accessing education. According to recent data, enrolment rates, retention rates, and completion rates for girls still lag behind those of boys.

These disparities highlight the ongoing struggle for gender equality in the education sector. Mr. Asigo, highlighted the gravity of the situation during the panel discussion.

The statistics paint a stark picture: globally, 63 million girls between ages 6-15 are out of school, with 16 million girls between ages 6-11 never entering one.

In Kenya specifically, nearly 40% of girls reported missing days of school due to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, highlighting the intersectionality of gender, poverty, and education.

Furthermore, data from the Ministry of Education reveals that while the gender gap in primary education is narrower, it widens in higher education. Despite comprising one-third of total enrolments, women account for just 30% of learners who proceed to higher education in Kenya.

Asigo emphasized the critical role of education in addressing these inequalities, saying, “Education serves as a powerful tool for empowering girls and women, breaking the cycle of poverty, and fostering gender equality. By ensuring equal access to quality education, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.”

Indeed, bridging the gender gap in education is not just a moral imperative—it’s an economic and social imperative.

Educated girls are not just pupils; they are catalysts for change, drivers of economic growth, and agents of empowerment. Research shows that investing in girls’ education yields significant returns, not only for individuals but also for entire communities and economies.

For instance, a percentage point increase in girls’ education boosts GDP by 0.3 percentage points and raises annual GDP growth rates by 0.2 percentage points. Furthermore, one extra year of education for girls increases their wages by between 10 and 20%. By educating girls, we change the future of entire communities, as women reinvest 90% of their income in their families, compared to 30-40% for men.

Bridge International Academies recognizes the pivotal role of education in advancing gender equality and is committed to spearheading transformative initiatives within its school settings. Through strategic interventions aimed at both employees and pupils, Bridge International Academies is paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive educational landscape.

Asigo asserts that Bridge International Academies is committed to providing equal access to education for girls, ensuring they have the same opportunities as boys to excel academically.

“Through initiatives that promote gender equality in the classroom, girls are empowered to perform just as well as their male counterparts, laying the foundation for their future success. If we are truly to have gender parity, we need to lay the foundation at the grassroots level, in the classroom,” he said.

In Bridge International Academies schools, girls are not only encouraged to excel academically but are also given leadership roles and opportunities to participate in STEM activities. They are encouraged to break cultural stereotypes by engaging in extracurricular activities traditionally attributed to boys, such as sports.

This holistic approach to education ensures that girls are equipped with the skills and confidence needed to thrive in all aspects of life.

Teachers at Bridge International Academies are trained to integrate a gender perspective into their teaching, ensuring that learning materials and methodologies are inclusive and empowering for a
ll students.

With a higher representation of female teachers in leadership positions, young girls have access to strong role models who inspire and encourage them to pursue their educational goals.

By fostering gender parity at the grassroots level, in the classroom, Bridge International Academies is laying the groundwork for a more equitable society. Empowering girls through education is not only essential for their individual success but also for building a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.