Education in Emergencies & Gender

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Education in emergencies (EiE) can be a powerful tool to advance gender equality.1 Gender2 shapes the experiences of children and young people during crises and it specifically affects their participation in education. Incorporating a gender-responsive approach to EiE can address the differentiated needs of girls, boys, women and men, helping close existing gaps in enrolment, participation and attainment for all groups.

Globally, girls of all ages are less likely to have access to quality education due to entrenched cultural, social, financial, and physical barriers. Emergency settings exacerbate these barriers. Girls tend to experience higher rates of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in and around schools; teenage pregnancy rises compared to non-crisis times. Early marriage, childbearing and increased domestic work can also surge. Additional barriers include lack of adequate facilities and menstrual hygiene management, lack of female teachers, attacks against schools, families in economic hardship favouring boys’ education, and more.  

Boys of all ages living in emergencies may also face challenges to their education. Some can overlap with those faced by girls, but others differ in many cases. For instance, although association with armed groups or gangs and involvement in illicit activities are risks faced by children of all genders, in many contexts this becomes of particular concern for boys. In the same line, boys may need to work at an early age to sustain their families. In all cases, the risks may lead to learning loss or even school dropout. 

In the moment of crisis, education is more important than ever. In the case of girls and young women, education and protection form a virtuous cycle, particularly in emergencies, when risks exacerbate. Educating girls and women in emergency settings can be protective and transformative not only for them but also for communities. It can reduce the likelihood of conflict transcending generations. It can decrease GBV and contribute to resilience and peace.

Rawan Abukhadrah, Protection Advisor, World Vision Syria Response

What We Know

Urgent Actions



Gender inequality affecting girls and young women overlaps with fragility and conflict

Further Reading

*The members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies contributed their knowledge and expertise to this document. Contact us

  1. Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys (UN Women).
  2. According to the WHO, gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed.  This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time.
  3.  UNICEF (2022). Girls Education: Gender equality in education benefits every child 
  4. ECW (2022.) Global Estimates: Number of crisis-affected children and adolescents in need of education support
  5. Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) (2021) Mind the Gaps: The State of Girls’ Education in Crisis and Conflict 
  6. The EM2030 2019 SDG Gender Index measures the state of gender equality aligned to 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 129 countries. Equal Measures 2030 (2020). Harnessing the power of data for gender equality: Introducing the 2019 EM2030 SDG Gender Index.
  7. Plan International UK (2019). Left out, left behind: adolescent girls’ secondary education in crises.
  8. Plan International UK (2019).
  9. Plan International UK (2019).
  10. Plan International UK (2019).
  11. UNGEI, INEE (2021) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW). EiE-GenKit.
  12. UNESCO, 2013. Education transforms lives
  13. The World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF (2021). The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery. Washington D.C., Paris, New York: The World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF
  14. Faye,N. Plan International (2021) Are we truly listening to adolescent girls and young women? (Blog)
  15. Ridley-Padmore, T. World Vision Canada (2020). Children’s Voices at the Centre: Lessons from World Vision’s child participation models (Blog)

Additional Sources