Women and Girls education in Africa: Changes and Continuities

TitleWomen and Girls education in Africa: Changes and Continuities
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMuhanguz, FKyoheirwe
Series TitleThe Palgrave Handbook of African Women's Studies
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitySwitzerland AG

Drawing on the global and regional commitments for gender equality and women’s empowerment, most African governments have been committed to advance girls and women’s participation in education as a means for the attainment of gender equality and sustainable development. This has led to expansion in women’s access to education at all levels across the African region with some countries registering parity, while others are near parity, especially at primary level. However, evidence shows that in two thirds of the countries, there are more boys than girls, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Gender disparities are higher at post-primary levels especially with tertiary education. Persistence at all levels and transition to secondary and higher education remain major issues for many African countries. Poverty, unfriendly school environment characterized by poor sanitation, limited gender-sensitive learning materials, and overcrowding, as well as other factors such as late entry into school, heavy workload, HIV/AIDS, gender stereotyping, limited numbers of female teachers, gender-based violence among others, continue to hinder girls’ participation in education. While the benefits from education are highly acknowledged, the role of education in transforming gender relations remains in question. The expanded education opportunities have widened women’s opportunities in social, economic, and political spheres – with more women entering into the labor market, more women owning their own assets and property, and more women participating in politics. Nevertheless, oppression and marginalization continue to be a lived experience for many women in Africa. The patriarchal practices of society continue to reduce women’s opportunities to relish the benefits of education. The need for women and men to have equal opportunity to participate in public and private life, as citizens, decision-makers, and leaders, is critical for sustainable development.