Lack of gender equality in education hindering economic development

EU dimension needed to tackle lack of gender equality in education, writes Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz.

By Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz

09 Jun 2015

The education and training of girls and women is not just an important European value - it is also a fundamental human right and an essential element for their empowerment at social, cultural and professional level. It is also key to their full enjoyment of all other social, economic, cultural and political rights.

Several studies have shown that female empowerment has many direct and indirect effects on development and human growth. Education reduces high fertility and infant, child and maternal mortality rates. It also raises labour force participation rates and wages, and encourages further educational investment in children.

Children's access to education may generally appear to be less problematic in the EU than in other parts of the world, but it should be pointed out that girls and boys do not have equal access to education and opportunities.


Excluding girls from education bears considerable costs, as it hinders the productive potential of an economy and its overall development. 

A more equal allocation of educational resources would result in greater access for girls to the labour market. A balanced participation of men and women in the workforce could boost the EU economy. Without making the most of girls' and women's talent and potential, a country's ability to develop is limited.

Therefore, equal access to education and lifelong learning are necessary long-term solutions. Education opportunities are recognised as a key element to combat inequalities such as underrepresentation in decision-making and managerial posts, as well as in the engineering, science and ICT sectors.

It is of the utmost importance to promote gender equality in education and training initiatives, particularly those that aim to alleviate gender imbalances in literacy, tackle the issue of leaving school early and promote women's adult learning and scientific career choices. 

It is also important to promote gender equality in initiatives that strive to improve media literacy and reduce the digital gap.

Looking to the future, we must invest more in young people's education. I welcome the implementation and use of educational programme financed by the EU and other sources to benefit girls' and young women's education. 

Additionally, I strongly support the promotion of a European dimension in education, for example by sharing best practices on gender equality.


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