Leave no one behind: Fighting poverty through lifelong learning

Konstantinos Pagratis reflects on how education can support the global struggle to end poverty

© UNESCO/Iason Athanasiadis

Last week, the world marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere – and to highlight the complex, multidimensional nature of the challenges we face in achieving it.

Education is not a silver bullet when it comes to ending poverty, but it has a crucial role to play, both in securing SDG 1 and in fulfilling the commitment made by Member States in signing up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.

UNESCO believes that the fight against poverty demands the strengthening of individuals’ capacities through education, which represents a source not only of employment but also of pride, dignity and agency. As Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of UNESCO, observes, ‘for each year a girl spends in the classroom, her future income will increase by 10 to 20 per cent’. Continue reading

What puts women off STEM?

© UNESCO

As the world marks International Women’s Day, Samah Shalaby asks how we can increase female participation in STEM and challenge the stereotypes that hold women back

Despite ongoing efforts to encourage girls and women to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), they still lag substantially behind their male counterparts. According to UNESCO, women account for only 35 per cent of learners studying STEM subjects in higher education. Within the female student population, only 30 per cent choose STEM-related subjects, with female participation particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).

This article, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, considers the causes of this gender gap and what we can do to close it, drawing on the perspectives of both men and women. Understandably, most studies of this issue focus predominately on the female perspective. However, it is also worth exploring the male understanding of this issue, especially as STEM fields are frequently characterized as male domains, and this may be one of the factors explaining low levels of female participation. I interviewed two men and two woman, all working in the fields of engineering and technology. Continue reading