Building the Evidence Base: Interventions to Improve Gender Equality
What policies and investments are likely to increase girls’ education? Because the extent and nature of gender bias differ across countries, decisions on whether to intervene and which intervention to undertake should be based on an understanding of the local context. Constraints on the demand side can be addressed by, for example, reducing the cost of schooling through (conditional) cash transfers and the abolishment of school fees; on the supply side, the number of schools can be expanded and school quality and school safety for girls improved, both of which can have a positive effect on demand.
A recent review of programs to increase girls’ education demonstrates that there is no shortage of ideas about interventions that could be effective in promoting gender equality in education. “The Power of Educating Adolescent Girls” (Lloyd 2009), part of the Girls Count series, examines an array of policies and programs that aim to promote adolescent girls’ education. The familiar approach to gender equality focuses on single or bundled programs rather than systemic reform. But the ten actions recommended by the review of 300-plus programs are far-ranging: scholarships for girls, recruitment and training of female teachers, girl-friendly curricula and pedagogical approaches that enhance learning and employment, after-school tutoring, and greater support for the non-formal education sector. These recommendations imply a need to address this educational challenge using a system approach. For example, the recommendation to collect and compile data on non-formal education and to upgrade, certify, and license this part of the education system means a general improvement that would benefit adolescent boys as well.
The challenge for policymakers and the development community is to identify the reforms and programs that will have the largest benefit for gender equality. Addressing gender inequality within the system framework also implies a need to work closely with other sectors, particularly those of justice, health, agriculture, and infrastructure. The multisectoral approach goes beyond economic measures to ensure equal access to schooling by helping provide a safe and healthy environment for girls to attend school, as well as improve the economic returns to female education by raising education quality and making education more relevant to the labor market.
By emphasizing the development of system assessment and benchmarking with specific targets for equality and inclusion, the World Bank Education Strategy 2020 helps promote gender equality by identifying where the disparities are widest, what factors explain them, and which interventions are most likely to be effective.