On the move for equality from words to action


Mary Metcalfe

Mary Metcalfe

An equitable and quality education for all that nurtures critical thinking must be embedded in a broader struggle for social justice. That’s according to Mary Metcalfe, Chairperson of the Open Society Foundations’ General Education Advisory Board. Mary was addressing the second day of Education International’s (EI) Second World Women’s Conference held in Dublin, Ireland earlier in the month.

All women’s struggles are not the same, said Metcalfe, in a personal reflection on education and moments that shaped her thinking and activism. Some women’s access to rights that others regard as universal depends on “youth, language, and time. Race, class, and status all conspire to position women very differently”.

Understanding people’s different contexts has implications for strategy, mechanisms, and enablers, she said, adding that education can be a significant agent for social change.

Within her keynote address Mary highlighted that social change and EI’s goals can only be achieved if we mobilise civil society and government to support them, adding that issues such as discrimination against boys in education must be tackled along with poverty’s impact on parity of educational access and outcomes.

The conference, with the theme, ‘Women in Trade Unions and in Education, From Words to Action’, was attended by almost 400 education trade union delegates from across the globe and provided a unique space and opportunity for representatives of EI’s affiliates to share, analyze, and provide feedback on good union practices that have concretely improved equality for women and men in unions and in education.

Focused on the themes of women in trade unions and women in education, the conference highlighted alarming disparities within the teacher profession in Europe where more women work part-time than men, where women dominate the teaching profession but not in union membership or union leadership and where women are paid less than men but account for nearly 60 per cent of all teaching graduates.

To read more about EI’s Second World Women’s Conference, click here.


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