measuring gender equality in education
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The AGEE Story

The AGEE research project began in 2018. It built on three previous research projects at the UCL Institute of Education where the importance of gender and education indicators had been discussed:

1) Beyond Access (2003-2010) a research and network building collaboration, initially between Oxfam, DFID and the Institute of Education, and later a partnership between UNGEI and the UCL Institute of Education

2) GEGPRI (Gender, education and global poverty reduction initiatives) an ESRC funded research project, which ran from 2007-2011 looking at the interpretation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) Declaration in two national contexts (Kenya and South Africa) and in selected global organisations

3) TEGINT (Transforming Education for girls in Nigeria and Tanzania), a research project in collaboration with ActionAid linked to the implementation of the Comic Relief funded TEGINT project (2007-2012).

In the networks and collaborations generated through these projects, academics, practitioners, donors and activists repeatedly voiced concern as to how to effectively measure and evaluate gender inequalities and equality in education in ways that were more meaningful than gender parity, which only looks at girls as a proportion of boys in enrolment, attendance, or attainment.

We drew from the experience of earlier work on the importance of collaborating with a wide group of stakeholders and built into the AGEE project, a concern to develop our work through participatory dialogue with those interested in the field of education and gender equality, and to build and help sustain a community of practice. One feature of this participatory process have been a series of technical meetings and workshops.

Beyond Parity: Measuring Gender Equality in Education 

A first meeting of technical experts took place over two days in 2015 at the time when the SDGs were being finalized, held at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in September 2015 and co-convened by IOE, the United Nations’ Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), FHi360, the MacArthur Foundation and the London International Development Centre. The aim of this workshop was to discuss a research and measurement initiative for assessing gender equality and inequality in and through schooling and the wider field of education that could connect to and expand the recently agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals framework and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, along with other debates about measuring and monitoring gender equality and education at international, national and local levels. The concept paper for this meeting was a first attempt to think through a selection of indicators. Through the presentations and discussions that took place during this workshop, initial plans for a monitoring and evaluation framework for gender equality and education emerged. These formed the basis of the funding bid that resulted in the launch of the AGEE project in 2018.

Indicators and Approaches to Monitoring Gender Equality in Education, Technical Meeting

A second technical meeting, convened by the AGEE project team and the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, was held at the IOE in January 2019. The aim of this workshop was: to share knowledge and experience of building and working with measurement/indicator frameworks, including the pros and cons of indicator dashboards and composite indicators; and to review and support the work of the AGEE project team in developing the AGEE Framework and the GEM Report team in developing a linked framework for use at the global level.

As a result of this meeting, the UNESCO Gender Review for 2019 presented an adaptation of the initial AGEE Framework and this approach was used by Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI). A blog written after this meeting raised the importance of the measurement framework for gender equality and education.

Launch of AGEE Framework

In May 2021, the AGEE Framework was launched at an online event, ‘The Politics of Measuring Gender Equality in Education: Perspectives for the G7’. Speakers from the AGEE Team and a number of international organisations explored the Framework, its key elements and uses for policy-makers, activists, development agencies, students and academics. You can read more about this event and watch some of the presentations here.

The launch was followed by a technical meeting held online on 23rd-24th June 2021, on ‘Gender, Education and Indicators: Complex Conditions and Crises’. The meeting aimed to further build a community of practice of those working on measuring gender equality and education, and specifically to share insights, experiences and challenges associated with measurements relating to gender, Covid and climate change and their educational implications. Papers based on this technical meeting were presented at conferences in 2021 and 2022.

Following this technical meeting, further work was also carried out on the longlist of indicators for the AGEE Cross-national Dashboard, and a paper was published in the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities summarising some of  the inadequacies of existing measures and presenting key elements of  the conceptual analysis behind the Framework.

Selecting indicators for the cross national dashboard

Participatory processes are central to the AGEE project. In order to move from the Framework to a Dashboard of indicators, consultations were held in spring 2022, with a meeting at UCL in London on 23rd-24th June 2022 to discuss the criteria and candidate cross-national indicators by domain. Final expert consultations for the cross-national dashboard took place in late 2022, and work on national and project level iterations is taking place in 2023.