Friday, 21 November 2008
FAWE Executive Director Dr Codou Diaw spoke on education, training, skills development, and ICTs at the Sixth ECA-AU African Development Forum (ADF-VI) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 19 to 21 November 2008.
Jointly held by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the AU and the African Development Bank (AfDB), ADF-VI sought to review progress made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa; discuss emerging issues that have an impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment; define priority actions and mechanisms to accelerate progress; and develop and strengthen strategic alliances and partnerships.
Speaking on the premise that education, skills training and ICTs are essential for poverty reduction and the achievement of higher economic growth, Dr Diaw said linking educational outcomes with economic opportunities is crucial in terms of employment and entrepreneurship.
Dr Diaw advocated for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in non-female dominated fields, especially targeting girls affected by conflict and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. She called for business education combined with transformational literacy for women as well as widespread, targeted use of ICTs.
‘Since formal general schooling is neither sufficient nor widespread enough to accommodate all youth and young adults, investing in developing skills acquisition not only makes economic sense, but is an equitable way of fulfilling the right to education for all,’ Dr Diaw said.
She put forward a number of recommendations on what could be done to step up progress in this area.
At policy level, governments should provide enabling and empowering environments for women to acquire technical and professional training and develop skills that allow them to participate meaningfully in formal sectors of the economy.
At programme level, girls and women should be trained in traditionally non-female dominated professions for a greater cumulative impact at macro-economic and societal level.
As regards budgeting and finance, Dr Diaw suggested more gender-specific budgeting by governments for TVET as well as more skills development for women.
In order to maximise the effectiveness of actions to accelerate progress, Dr Diaw urged a multi-dimensional approach that combines policy advocacy with research and scaling-up and mainstreaming of relevant programmes. She suggested consolidated interventions to avoid dispersion, duplication and too many short-term interventions. She also urged gender-responsive strategies for vocational training and skills acquisition that transform unequal gender relations by addressing the needs of girls, boys, men and women at all levels.
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