Accountability for gender equality in education: Critical perspectives on an indicator framework for the SDGs

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Education, Practice & Society

Abstract

The Framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015 set ambitious targets for achieving an expansion of education provision worldwide and enhancing gender equality. The Policy Document Education 2030 sets out the detail on this. Some new indicators to monitor, evaluate and build accountability for this framework have been developed and others are under discussion by a number of technical committees. This project aims to contribute to this work. We propose to i) review the scholarly literature refining insight into what is entailed in definitions of learning outcomes linked with gender equality, ii) discuss some of the critiques and limitation of indicators as a technique for building accountability, and iii) develop an indicator framework for gender equality in education that can support the work of Education 2030, particularly the monitoring of the SDG targets on gender and education (Target 4.7 and 4a) , while also responding to concerns of organisations that work at international, national and local levels. South Africa and Malawi have been selected as research sites for detailed work reflecting on a proposed indicator framework for accountability for gender eequality in education. Both have policies in place in support of an expansion of education provision and addressing aspects of gender inequality. Howevever, both face complex challenges of implementation. Through a series of key informant interviews in each country with partipants who have knowledge of the needs of the education sector, women's rights and gender equality issues, we aim to refine the proposed indicator framework we wish to develop . We also plan a number of interviews regarding the proposed indicator framework with key informants located in global women's rights networks and who work at the global level in multilateral, bilateral, NGO and large donor organisations. Outputs from the project will include a revised indicator framework on gender equality in education, with particular relevance for monitoring for SDG targets 4.7 and 4a.

Planned Impact

The research will be of benefit to the community of practice concerned with the indicators for the SDGs and Education 2030, particularly international organisations (UNGEI, UNESCO, UNDP), and national governments engaged with responding to the proposed SDG indicators and grappling with how to evaluate gender equality and learning outcomes. It will also benefit academic and activist communities, including women's rights networks, engaged in critical reflection on the translation of international policy frameworks into local contexts, the use of indicators as techniques of accountability, and how to enhance international action to support gender justice.
These groups will benefit from this research through the team's development of an indicator framework to evaluate gender equality in education linked with the SDGs, but responsive to local contexts as exemplifed by South Africa and Malawi and some critical views of activists in the women's rights movement. This will support enhanced information for critical engagements with the SDG process, and support work on indicators linked to Education 2030 that respond to aspirations for gender equality in education that go beyond gender parity.

Publications

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Anand, P (2020) ) COVID-19 as a Capability Crisis: Using the Capability Framework to Understand Policy Challenges in Journal of Human Development and Capabilities,

 
Description Metrics are important for accountability processes towards achieving gender equality in education, but the information captured by the existing metric, gender parity is too limited to understand the many facets of the gender relationships associated with resources, power and multiple processes and outcomes in education. The project is develing a new indicator framework for gender equality in education. Around the world while school enrolment rates for girls and women have risen steadily, educational gender inequalities persist in key areas such as the ongoing marginalisation of certain groups of girls and women from accessing education, and the gendered conditions within learning environments. More needs to be understood about how girls' education relates to gender equality in the labour market, poverty, equal political participation and representation, and levels of violence against women.
Existing indicators of gender equality in education are overwhelmingly based on measures of gender parity of particular functionings relating to education (frequently enrolment or achievement measures such as literacy or numeracy), such as the indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Global Partnership for Education Results Framework. While such measures can be an important initial step in illuminating the incidence of educational inequalities, 'gender parity' metrics omit insight into the conditions that underpin these, which may be significantly different for different groups of children (such as pedagogic relationships and curriculum opportunities), which can be constituted or constrained or expanded by institutions, norms or national frameworks. we have worked to construct a new indicator framework, first through a 'dashboard' approach and secondly through the potential for a composite indicator, looking at the possibilities for using existing data sources to capture and compare information on gender inequalities in education. A range of key domains have been developed, to cover aspects of educational outcomes, resources, conversion processes and the environment.

We have consulted through workshops and interviews in South Africa, Malawi and with an international community of practice with regard to the dashboard and indicator framework.The AGEE dashboard for gender equality in education has been concerned to present data linked to planning and evaluation processes. Our thinking on how the AGEE dashboard feeds into these processes builds on an understanding of equality from the capability approach and is distilled in the diagram below (see Figure 1),
Populating the six domains of the dashboard involves users undertaking a standard situation analysis of gender inequalities and the nature of equality in an education system, drawing largely on administrative data (this step directly relates to education and is denoted in blue in the diagram). It then requires users to identify the causes of gender and other inequalities and the causes of equalities (e.g. gender equality obligations in constitutions, or an active civil society holding governments to account) (this step is concerned with issues both in and outside the education system and is denoted in purple in the diagram). In both of these fields, we see it necessary to identify three different kinds of inequalities and equalities: horizontal, concerned with cultures and forms of belonging; vertical, associated with distribution of income, wealth, and health; and process, associated with learning and teaching interactions and opportunities for dialogue and discussion. The dashboard also requires data on resources (money, people, and levels of skills) and constraints and enablers for opportunities to become valued outcomes, which can then lead to an assessment of how much equality (in all forms), inequality and process freedoms there are in the education system (i.e. the capability set) (this step is also concerned with issues in and outside the education system and is denoted in purple in the diagram). The dashboard also aims to capture functionings and outcomes drawing on standard information, such as how many girls and boys complete schooling, and what they attain in labour market access, levels of earnings and health outcomes (these steps are denoted in green in the diagram).
In 202022-2021 we have worked on how to incorporate aspects of climate change and effects of the COVID pandemic into the AGEE diagram
Exploitation Route We applied for and were awarded follow on funding to develop work books and visualizations for education planners linked to the Gender at the Centre initiative. However, there are currently doubts about this award because of cuts to ODA. There remains considerable scope for and interest in these outputs from GPE, UNESCO etvc
Sectors Education

 
Description UNESCO Global Education Monitor team is using our findings to devbelop a global indicator of gender equality in education. The 6 e;lements of this were incorporated in the Gender Review 2019, and have been used in guiding the development of the Gender at the Centre project. Our development of a dashboard for governments to evaluate gender equality in educattion is under discussion in Malawi and South Africa, and is being considered as part of the training module for the UNGEI led Gender Responsive Education Sector Planning work. IIEP and GPE have consulted with us on the range of indicators we are proposing for our dashboard Many of the insights from our project have informed the formualtion of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) KIX briefing paper on gender equality in and through education, and have been used in reviewing the work by UNGEI and the Malala Fund on gender responsive financing for education. IIEP has used our formulation in its work on GRESP
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Development of UN GEM global gender indicator framework
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description HDCA engagement
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Organisation of HDCA conference 2019 in London enhancing researching and networking. Work on conference organisation with HDCA 2019-2021 and on education resources for HDCA
URL https://hd-ca.org/
 
Description Macarthur
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://www.macfound.org/programs/100change/
 
Description GEM Gender Review paper
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 
Sector Academic/University
Country France
Start 03/2020 
End 06/2020
 
Description Gender Equality KIX paper
Amount £26,000 (GBP)
Organisation Global Partnership for Education 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 04/2018 
End 06/2019
 
Description UNESCO
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 
Sector Academic/University
Country France
Start 06/2020 
End 11/2020
 
Title Gender and non state actors in education 
Description Rigorous review of literature on gender and non state actors in education 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Study is to inform 2021 UNESCO Global Education Monitor Gender Review; will be published June 2021 
 
Title Gender equality in education dashboard 
Description Developing a theoretically informed dashboard for monitoring and evaluating gender equality in education 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Better conveing of community of practice working on indicaotrs of gender equality in education. Closer selection of indicators for evaluating gender equality in education 
URL https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374495)
 
Title Research instrument for exploring gender equality in education 
Description A tested research instrument for discussing with key informants key issues concerning gender issues in education and relationships between national and international processes 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Key issues from the interviews conducted with this instrument have fed into the refinement of the AGEE dashboard and UNESCO's adaptation of this for the GEM Gender Reivew 
 
Description Chancellor College, University of Malawi 
Organisation University of Malawi
Country Malawi 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Presentation of joinly written conference papers, development of jointly written paper submitted to an international journal, hosting key policy makers for advisory committee meetings
Collaborator Contribution Office space, facilitating expedniture on meetings
Impact Conference presentation, Johannesburg colloquium of Rasing Learning Outcomes programme, September 2018. Co-0authorship of paper for SAERA conference, October 2019 Convening of advisory committee for AGEE project, November 2018 and March 2019
Start Year 2018
 
Description Discussion on GRESP 
Organisation United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Department International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO)
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Presentation on AGEE dashboard and discussions on GRESP (Gender responsive education sector planning)
Collaborator Contribution Critical engagement and comments on AGEE dashboard
Impact Half day presentation to IIEP staff on AGEE dashboard
Start Year 2020
 
Description Discussions on SIGI 
Organisation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Inputs into dialogues on how education should be incorporated into OECD SIGI
Collaborator Contribution Invitation to participate in three day consultation on future of SIGI
Impact Ideas for building AGEE website based onb SIGI
Start Year 2020
 
Description Global Partnership for Education KIX 
Organisation Global Water Partnership
Country Sweden 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Authored KIX (Knowledge exchange) paper on Achieving gender equality in and through education
Collaborator Contribution Promoted ideas of AGEE project and approach to dashboard in discussion with GPE partners
Impact GPE, KIX paper (Unterhalter et al, 2019) https://www.globalpartnership.org/sites/default/files/2019-07-kix-gender-final-english.pdf Discussions of gender equity and gender equality in GPE
Start Year 2018
 
Description UN Girls Education Initative 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department United Nations Girls Education Initiative
Country Global 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Comments on ongoing projects as member of advisory committee, eg project on gender responsive financing with Malala Foundation, and advice on projects being developed eg. Gender responsive Education Sector Planning (GRESP- Published Equals newsletter with funding from UNGEI ( fromn c. 2005) before current award began
Collaborator Contribution Advice on projects being developed, policy networks, policy papers in development, strategic opportunities
Impact Development of dashboard indicator framework for use in discussions of traning materials for GRESP. Scoping paper for GPE KIX (published 2019 Unterhalter, Parkes and Howell) developed in discussion with UNGEI. Participated in discussions of direction for UNESCO Gender Review
Start Year 2009
 
Description UNESCO GEM Report team 
Organisation United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Comment on and assistance with development of draft indicator framework for use at global level. Ideas utilised in Gender Review, 2019. Used in presentations for Gender at the Centre Initiativbe, 2019 Commissioned to write concept paper on intersectionality and partnership with non state partners (2020)
Collaborator Contribution Comment on draft dashboard for national indicaotr framework. Networking with global partners Contributed background papers on gender to a range of GEM reports. This partnership pre-dates this award
Impact Draft indicator frameworks reported in GPE blog https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/making-gender-equality-reality-education-what-will-it-take Indicator framework in UINESCO GEM report Gender Review, 2019
 
Description University of Kwazulu Natal 
Organisation University of KwaZulu-Natal
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration pre-dates this award,. The work undertaken through this award builds on relationships established through previous projhects. In this award we have contributed to jointly authored conference papers, a jointly authored paper submitted to an international journal, promoting the profile of UKZN at international policy meetings. We have engaged with members of the Advisroty Committee for AGEE convened by UNKZ, engaged in discussions about current and future research, and possible career paths for researchers
Collaborator Contribution Sponsoring co-investigator to attend WERA conference, August 2018 in Cape Town. Provision of meeting rooms for convening of advisory committee, February 2019 and 2020 Contributed to research design, data collection and analysis, co-auhtored conference papers and presentations
Impact Conference presentation, WERA, Cape Town August 2018; c onference presentation SAERA, October 2091 Convening South Africa Advisory Committee, February 2018 and February 2019
 
Description COVID effects 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Panel presentation UCL IoE series 'What if' on girls' education and COVID
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Dialogue with GPE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Reviewing global public goods on gender and education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in parliamentary discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Brief presentation/question relating to our researchproject and the perspectives of GPE in the context of the UK government's strategy on girls' education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation of AGEE dashboard 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation of AGEE dashboard in module on Gender, Education & Development in MA degree , UCL
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation of Dashboard 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to IIEP UNESCO of AGEE dashboard and discussion of proposed indicators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation of dashboard and indicators 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion with core GPE indicators team on AGEE dashboard
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Research sharing South Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of key elements in AGEE framework and dashboard for monitoring gender equality and education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Technical meeting (London) to discuss developing a dashboard for monitoring gender equality in education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The purpose of this technical meeting co-organised by the AGEE project and the UNESCO Global Education Monitor (GEM) was:
i) to review a dashboard concerned with gender equality and education developed from these phases of work and to consider this as a possible shared indicator framework for a community of practice concerned with gender equality and education to compare across countries to evaluate progress towards gender equality in education. This indictor framework might become a useful review mechanism for countries to use in developing Education Sector Plans
ii) to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a composite indicator of gender equality in education to be developed for the UNESCO GEM 2020 which will focus on inclusion and education

The meeting buildt on consultations held in London in September 2015 which produced the UNGEI working paper Measuring gender inequality and equality in education .
At the techncial meeting a community of practice working on gender equality and education indicaotrs convened, discussed exiting indicatotr frameworks, and the potential to build on these
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/making-gender-equality-reality-education-what-will-it-take
 
Description UN Women expert group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Development of report by UN Women f
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description school visit (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Puropose to inform Year 10 students of what working in socila policy on gender and education with global organisations involved and some of the key contemporary issues about measurment and indicators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019