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Operations   Gender Equality in Opportunity

Gender Equality in Opportunity

Action toward global opportunity and the empowerment of children and youth in societies must not leave anyone behind. Gender inequality and societal barriers remain serious barriers to universal empowerment. As part of its mandate, the IAYG family focuses expansive efforts on closing disparities in opportunity between girls and boys.

The Challenge

Today, more than 100 million girls who should be in school are not. Millions more are unable to reach equal opportunity in global education, engagement, community participation, opportunities for leadership, and more. Their fundamental rights are less guaranteed. In far too many communities, their opportunities for engagement and participation within society are hampered by societal barriers, meaning that community leadership becomes increasingly male. And as girls become older, the gaps between girls and boys only widen – all too often, as boys gain more opportunities, girls’ opportunities narrow. These impacts are further exacerbated by societal environments. From a young age, boys and girls notice inequities in how men and women are treated, leading them to perpetuate these relationships as adults. The results are clear: though they account for half of the world’s human potential, women own less than one-fifth of the world’s land. Less than 20% of the world’s legislators are female, a paradigm that extends from national to community levels.

Changing this narrative begins with advancing global opportunity for girls and young women. The opportunities they have today, the values they understand, the confidence in their rights they hold, and the ability to participate in societies now is the largest determinant of the kind of place they will have as women driving their societies. Progress for women must start with progress for girls. If girls, too, have equal access to global opportunity – empowered as leaders in the communities they live, connected with the world, educated to thrive in a global economy, and able to realize their rights of participation – they will become confident, engaged community participants as adults, too. More will be able to seek leadership in communities and across societies, whether as social leaders, members of civil society, legislators, and other agents of change. They will have a stronger place in their societies, with a stronger understanding of their equal and inalienable rights of participation and action, and a seat at the table that will better outcomes for everyone. More women will be prepared to engage in an increasingly global economy, to the benefit of their wealth, representation, and influence in communities. Over time, as girls and boys alike see role models in empowered, engaged women, societal barriers will recede. 

Advancing gender equality is central to the IAYG family’s work and its mandate for global opportunity. It is integrated across all of our programming. Our work focuses not just on relieving the immediate effects of gender equality, but catalyzing lasting change in societies and more gender-equal futures. Our commitments to gender equality across the IAYG family, its partners, affiliates, and institutional organizations’ work is delineated by the Strategic Framework for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Girls (SFGE), which is updated annually to reflect progress in gender equality in all countries we work. Our work advancing gender equality across our work is incorporated in close partnerships with public and private-sector actors. These partners include governments, with whom we work to ensure equal access to global education and expand participatory rights. 

The IAYG family’s Research and Data-Based Development divisions actively monitor progress in gender equality across all of our areas of work. The next family-wide report on gender equality in global opportunity will be released in January 2020.

Our Focus

The IAYG family’s specific commitments to gender equality span all major sectors of work – a comprehensive programme that expands opportunity, representation, and potential for future leadership for girls and young women and takes extensive action on a worldwide scale to address gaps in community engagement, legislative representation, community leadership, economic integration, and other significant areas of disparity. Our areas of focus include the following targeted initiatives:

  • Women lift economies. By expanding access to global education, with a specific focus on girls and young women, we’re building a generation better prepared to engage in a global economy and an increasingly connected world.
  • Young people must understand their fundamental rights. We’re expanding education in children’s rights, including the right to participate, for girls as part of broad-based commitments to combat societal barriers and stereotypes that continue to hinder their potential.
  • We are working with governments and civil society to defend the right of all children to participate – especially that of girls, whose voices are least heard.
  • Girls should have an opportunity to engage in their communities too. We’re creating pathways for engagement and participation across communities, including in civil society and public service so that girls are at the front and centre of community change.
  • Societies are better when girls and women have a seat at the table. We advance opportunities in youth leadership for young people, with a specific emphasis on bringing girls to the forefront of action on sustainable development, environmental change, and security.
Our efforts in these areas constitute an expansive and broad-based commitment to directly addressing embedded societal beliefs, extending educational opportunity, and empowering girls and young women to become a historic generation of female community leaders, economic actors, and catalysts of societal change.
At the same time, work for gender equality never ends. To bring together more of the humanitarian community in support of global opportunity for girls, we build alliances with other humanitarian institutions, civil society, and private-sector actors. We also seek innovative technologies and solutions that help accelerate the provision of opportunity to young people. Learn more

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