There is a universal understanding and internationally shared vision that education for all is the key to development. Primary school enrolment rose from 647 million to 688 million worldwide from 1999 to 2005 with 36% increase in sub-Saharan Africa and 22% in South and West Asia. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Despite international recognition that the education of girls is one of the most powerful tools for progress, girls suffer from discrimination when it comes to getting an education. Educated girls are more likely to have better incomes as adults, marry later and have fewer and healthier children as well as stronger-decision making power within the household. Photo:ILO/Falise T.
One of the biggest obstacles to decent childhoods is children having to work. Parents living in poverty often face the choice of having their children educated or sending them to work to help support the family. In other cases, access to education itself might be a challenge because of the lack of school facilities, teaching staff or the high schooling fees. Photo:ILO/Gianotti E.
In urban areas where nearly half of the world's population already lives, children are particularly susceptible when not in school to engage in dangerous and illegal activities. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Gender relations determine the development of girls and boys in many ways, including preferring to give an education to a son over a daughter when having to make a choice. Decisions may not be based on natural aptitudes, skills or motivation of the child but on age-old patriarchal traditions, religious interpretations, and existing gender role models of male superiority and inheritance laws. Photo:ILO/Cassidy K.
Unequal gender relations propel a vicious circle of underinvestment in girls from generation to generation. Today over two-thirds of the world's 860 million illiterates are women. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Girls take on a great deal of unpaid household work for their families, including childcare, cooking, cleaning and gathering water and fuel. If girls are attending school, there is precious little time left to study. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Many girls in poor communities are expected to contribute to household income. Girls may be pushed into work as domestic labourers or other forms of work, even trafficking and prostitution.
In Tanzania, hundreds of child workers have been withdrawn from domestic service thanks to common efforts of CHODAWU (Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers Union) and the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). CHODAWU runs a prevention program involving employers, unions, local chiefs and NGOs, teachers and parents, to break the recruitment chain and reintegrate children in their families and school. In their Centre in Dar es Salaam, the children go to school and learn a trade. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Informal education centre for children working in surgical instrument manufacture workshops. ILO Field Project in Sialkot (Pakistan).
Predetermined gender roles - with preference given to boys - may be detrimental to young boys as well as they may feel the heavy burden to perform academically - perhaps beyond their capacities - in order to live up to their families' expectations to succeed. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
School at the centre for apprenticeship of young women, Andhra Pradesh,in the city of Hyderabad, India. The goal of this programme, sponsored by the ILO and designed for the rehabilitation and integration of working children, is to promote and implement the education of young women and to eliminate child labour.
To provide incentives for girls' education, various schemes have been developed in poor countries, including cash transfers to help mothers keep children out of work. Such schemes can have a positive impact on increasing enrolment and retention of girls in school and reduce child labour. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Employers have been playing a fundamental role at different levels in fighting child labour. At the workplace, they can refuse to hire children or, if child labour already occurs, they can remove the children making sure this is done in a responsible manner. At the political level, employers and employers' organizations can lobby for effective training and education systems for both girls and boys. The ILO Bureau for Employers' Activities has been running a gender-sensitive technical cooperation programme, funded by the Norwegian Government, aimed at building the capacity of employers and their organizations in combating child labour. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Workers' organizations are also logical leaders in combating child labour at the local, national and international levels. With appropriate interventions, unions can become credible advocates for the protection of children against exploitation and abuse. They promote the right of workers to adequate remuneration, thereby reducing the dependence of poor families on their children's labour. In addition to bargaining on behalf of their adult members, workers' organizations can further mobilize to ensure that children are in school, not in the workplace. The ILO Bureau for Workers' Activities has been conducting technical cooperation programmes to intensify the efforts of workers' organizations to fight child labour, and has been paying attention to the gender dimension as well. Photo:ILO/Gianotti E.
Students at the NAYA PRAYAS school created by the Indian association of PRAYAS in the slums of Vasant Vilhar (New Delhi). Since 1988, this association has been helping the most underprivileged children or those living in the streets.
Formula for Progress: Educate both girls and boys. Gender equality in education means girls and boys should have the same access to education and be given the same opportunities to study, providing both girls and boys with the necessary skills to find decent work when they become adult women and men. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
A few steps to improve gender equality in education and provide girls with equal opportunities when grown up, include : providing adolescent girls with quality formal and non-formal educational programmes, including vocational training; addressing gender stereotyping in education leading to unchallenged views on occupational segregation and women's unpaid work; encouraging girls to study subjects and skills that are in high demand and would command better pay in the labour market; proposing that female dominated and male dominated occupations are evaluated so as to determine equal pay for jobs of equal value; ensuring the quality training and subsequent employment of adequate numbers of female teachers; sharing international good practices on strategies to enrol and retain girls in school. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.