Global March

World Teachers’ Day 2011: Teachers for Gender Equality

5 October 2011: Since 1994, World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5 October each year. It is an opportunity for UNESCO and Education International (EI) to promote the profession and its relevant international standards and for the rest of the world to celebrate all teachers around the world and the incredible work they do and commitment and passion they share for the protection of the fundamental right to education. The theme for this year is: Teachers for gender equality.

Despite the teaching profession being made up largely of women, inequality remains an issue. Even if measures to ensure equality are enshrined into the policies and constitutions of many states, for millions of female teachers, the goals remain unfulfilled. In this respect, EI is calling on the entire teaching profession, both men and women, to unite and urge governments to implement their commitments.

Despite real progress being made in the last 25 years towards achieving gender equality, there is a long way to go. For example, in gender parity in primary education significant gaps still exist. The ratio of girls-to-boys in primary school enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa remains extremely low, while boys’ academic under-achievement in school is an increasingly worrying phenomenon in many countries, including Jamaica and the United States of America.

“Let us remind ourselves on this World Teachers’ Day that teachers are a powerful force to address gender injustices around the world, and that gender equality is not simply a women’s issue - it is everyone’s issue,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

The focus on gender equality rounds up a year of intensive work in this area by EI. 2011 began with EI’s “On the Move for Equality” Conference in January, Bangkok, and continued with the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March in New York discussing women’s access to and participation in education, especially science and technology, for full employment and decent work. The Global Action Week for Education in May concentrated on girls’ right to quality education. This was followed by EI’s World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in July which adopted a landmark resolution on gender equality. A four-year action plan geared to making gender equality a reality in unions, in education and in society is the pivotal goal.

EI and its affiliates know that if teachers are to be good role models for gender equality for boys and girls in all areas and levels of schooling, inequalities within the teaching profession must also be addressed. Equal opportunities for women to be school leaders, institutional managers and decision-makers within ministries of education need to be promoted. In addition, more women need to become science, mathematics and technology teachers and university professors, and more men need to be recruited as early childhood and primary school educators.

“We cannot underestimate the central role that teachers plan in the delivery of education services,” said Global March Chairperson Kailash Satyarthi. “Teachers, women and men alike, are deserving of our support and appreciation on this their special day of celebration. And it is vital that we all lend our voice to this important campaign in 2011 to focus the spotlight in education on gender equality.”

He went on to state: “We know that girls in particular suffer in terms of access to education and when denied an education, they often end up in situations of exploitation, leading to a further downward spiral of poverty. We know that discrimination against women in the teaching profession still continues, undermining possibilities to bring about positive change for the better. How much longer are we prepared to tolerate these continued inequities that prevent us from achieving the goals we have set ourselves in development? We salute the courage and determination of teachers and their organisations around the world to fight for change and we fully support their endeavours. Today, on World Teachers’ Day 2011, Global March stands with EI and its member organisations in calling for concrete action and positive change!”

As is the case every year, Global March Governing Board member EI has put together a detailed and creative online campaign to promote and celebrate this special day. Global March acknowledges and deeply values the contributions of all teachers to the protection and promotion of human rights, including addressing the critical issue of child labour. It calls on all its members and partners to find some way in which to acknowledge the vital role teachers play in society, including writing to national teachers’ organisations and EI. 

EI is participating in the official UNESCO event taking place in Paris, France, on 5 October 2011 and where EI Deputy General Secretary David Edwards will be chairing some of the discussions. Everyone can take part in World Teachers’ Day by sending an e-card, downloading the multi-lingual posters and the pay equity toolkit from the dedicated web site.

To visit the official EI web site for World Teachers’ Day and access and download various tools and resources, including the official joint statement of EI, UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF and UNDP, click here

Please note that this online resource is available in English, French and Spanish

To download the ITUC report, click here


To access the ITUC web site on the World Day for Decent Work available in English, French and Spanish for more information and to find out what is being planned and organised in different regions and countries, click here

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