Education International
Education International

Arab countries work towards gender equality

published 26 July 2012 updated 31 July 2012

EI affiliates from 11 Arab countries participated in the first meeting of the EI Arab Women’s Network (AWN) to initiate strategies to empower women teachers and increase their unionisation across the region.

The meeting took place from 9-10 July in Jordan, bringing together 44 participants from 22 EI member affiliates.

Different working sessions allowed members to report on the status of women teachers in each country. Participants shared information about challenges and best practices to improve the role of Arab women within trade unions.

Encouraging women AWN members developed strategies to encourage more women in the region to become union members. They also set out approaches to strengthening union structures and training women unionists while helping them gain access to leadership and decision-making positions.

Three main areas of work were identified:

  • To create a solidarity framework for the Arab unions on  issues affecting women, including the promotion of inclusive gender-sensitive quality public education, with a focus on the education of girls and women;
  • To provide training on technical and communication skills for women teachers and unionists;
  • To organise social gatherings to raise union awareness and increase women’s voices within unions across the region. Each country will build on its social and traditional context to design these gatherings;

Gender equality “Working to achieve gender equality in unions, education and society has always been a principal aim and a major work priority for EI,” said Haldis Holst, EI Deputy General Secretary. “Women’s networks, uniting so many inspiring activists, have a tremendous global potential to achieve social and democratic change.”

The main objective of the AWN will be to provide women teachers from Arab countries with trade union support and solidarity for better conditions at work and in the unions themselves, through the cooperation of the trade unions and the women's network, Holst said.

The EI Resolution on Gender Equality, adopted at the 2011 World Congress, recognises that persistent gender inequalities continue to exist in unions, in education and in society, despite international standards and agreements. It also notes that, despite progress, no country in the world has fully achieved gender equality regardless of enabling legislation.