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Skills for Work and Life

Thematic Areas: Youth Employment | Greening TVET | Access, Equity & Quality | TVET in a Digital World | Other Themes
Our Key Programmes & Projects: i-hubs: Skills for Innovation Hubs | YEM: Youth Employment in the Mediterranean | BILT: Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET | UNEVOC TVET Leadership Programme | WYSD: World Youth Skills Day
Past Activities: TVET Global Forums

Knowledge Resources

Our Services & Resources: Publications | TVET Forum | Virtual Conferences | TVET Country Profiles | TVETipedia Glossary | Promising & Innovative Practices
Events: Major TVET Events | UNEVOC Network News

Access to Quality TVET for All

While the fundamental right to education and training has been well established and recognized within numerous political frameworks across the world, young people and adults still face difficulties accessing or completing TVET programmes. Systemic discrimination, inequalities related to course materials and school infrastructure, and discriminatory career guidance practices are examples of barriers affecting access and participation in TVET programmes. Systems and institutions must ensure equal access to technical and vocational education and training opportunities regardless of gender, age, religion or ethnic background, and with special consideration for vulnerable members of society, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children.

Equal Access and Gender Equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

UNESCO has identified gender equality as a global priority and the international community’s commitment to gender equality in education and training is well embedded in Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure the right to inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. Extending this commitment, UNESCO-UNEVOC works to promote equal access to quality TVET for all.

Gender Equality in Education

Gender equality unleashes the full power of education to tackle the problem of imbalanced power relations, social norms, discriminatory practices and belief systems underpinning gender-based disparities and contributing to societal exclusion. This includes the essential first step of ensuring gender parity - equal numbers and proportions of girls and boys enrolled in and completing different levels of education. Gender equality is, however, much more than that; it speaks to the birth of a new era of education that considers the needs, interests and lived experiences of all learners, and which tackles the intersecting and simultaneous disadvantages that may inhibit a child, youth or adult from fully exercising their right to participate in, complete and benefit from education.

Promoting Gender Equality in STEM-Related TVET

Overall, female representation in TVET is lower in comparison to general education programmes; the UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimated that 43% of students enrolled in vocational programmes at the upper secondary (ISCED 3) in 2017 were female, compared to 49% in general education programmes (UIS Data).

These gender disparities are more prevalent in some fields than in others, with girls and women particularly under-represented in fields requiring science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) skills and knowledge: women account for only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally (UNESCO 2018). This under-representation is significant and detrimental to both individuals and society. In addition to being required for ‘traditional’ and ‘emerging’ occupations, STEM skills and knowledge are often needed for the so-called ‘jobs of the future’ - driving innovation, inclusive growth and sustainable development. Greater female participation in these programmes and careers therefore has the potential to contribute to their empowerment and social well-being.

UNESCO-UNEVOC builds on existing work around women and girls’ academic education in STEM-related fields through research and workshops that aim to improve understanding of the relationship between STEM and TVET. By exploring potential avenues for increasing women and girls’ participation and achievement in these fields, as well as the challenges they may face, UNESCO-UNEVOC pushes TVET institutions to ensure that quality TVET programmes are equally accessible to all.

Find out more about our work on the following cross-cutting thematic areas:

News & Activities

8 March 2020
International Women’s Day 2020
On 8 March, UNESCO-UNEVOC joined the global celebrations to mark International Women’s Day. In line with its ongoing work to empower women in and through technical and vocational education and training (TVET) – and particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields – UNESCO-UNEVOC reemphasized its commitment to promoting gender equality in all facets of TVET.
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Publications & Resources

UNESCO-UNEVOC virtual conference: Understanding the causes of gender disparities in STEM-related TVET

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has a potentially significant role to play in providing the skills and competencies required to support innovation, productivity an ...

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Boosting gender equality in science and technology

A challenge for TVET programmes and careers
While technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has the potential to bolster the participation of women in the labour market, this potential is not always well understood and capitalized on. In general, female students are lowly represen ...

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UNESCO-UNEVOC virtual conference: Inclusive TVET

1 to 12 July 2019
The Salamanca Statement which was adopted at the World Conference on Special Needs Education in 1994 marked a watershed in the development of inclusive education. In addition, Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education calls on Member States to ‘e ...

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I'd blush if I could

Closing gender divides in digital skills through education
This publication seeks to expose some of these biases and put forward ideas to begin closing a digital skills gender gap that is, in most parts of the world, wide and growing. Today, women and girls are 25 per cent less likely than men to know how to ...

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Promising Practices

Development of female entrepreneurship

UNESCO-UNEVOC Promising Practices
iHUB’s Programme for the Development of Female Entrepreneurship is the first initiative in Ukraine to support women in business creation, from the initial idea to the set-up of a working business. It covers both knowledge and practical support, inc ...

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DAPP Mikolongwe Mobile Training Centre

UNESCO-UNEVOC Promising Practices
The DAPP Mobile Training Centre, an innovative expansion of the DAPP Mikolongwe Vocational School, was launched in 2016. The initiative expands the reach of training programmes to those who need it the most, particularly groups in remote, rural regio ...

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Transforming lives through code training

UNESCO-UNEVOC Promising Practices
Laboratoria, a Lima-based web development company, observed a lack of female software developers in Peru and decided to set up a six-month training course for women, called Code Academy. The course is offered exclusively to young women from low-incom ...

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Empowering rural women through ICT in TVET

UNESCO-UNEVOC Promising Practices
In India, women from rural communities often have little say in family and community decision-making. Skills development is a recognized medium of empowerment. However, access to TVET remains a challenge to a majority of those living in rural India. ...

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