Gender equality is one of the common values and founding principles of the European Union, and yet, on average a woman earns 16% less than a man in Europe. Women have limited access to lifelong learning and have more fragmented careers, and are still often victims of gender-based discrimination and violence.
Gender-based discrimination in education is both a cause and a consequence of broader forms of gender inequality in society. Even though girls and boys perform equally in schools and at universities in these areas, only a third of European scientists and engineers are women. OECD research confirmed that career choices are more linked to attitude and confidence and that is why we need to support women to follow these paths. On the other hand, it is crucial to tackle the worrying number of male early-school leavers in the EU (13.2% compared to 10.6% girls). Only when traditional gender roles and stereotypes start to be challenged inside the classroom will girls and boys have chances of living fulfilled lives of their free choice.
The LLLPlatform calls for mainstreaming gender equality in lifelong learning strategies. We need awareness-raising campaigns and initiatives that will support young women to attend post-compulsory education and career paths which will ensure higher earnings later on. It is about developing gender-sensitive curricula and teaching materials free of discrimination, which are influencing children’s educational and career paths alike later on. This includes fostering tolerance as regards sexual orientation and identity and fighting gender bullying and homophobia. Partnerships between civil society organisations and educational institutions can make this dialogue happen and should be supported all levels.