Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI)

As the technical lead of the Gender at the Centre Initiative IIEP-UNESCO Dakar works to promote gender equality in education systems in Africa. Learn more about our activities in favour of gender-sensitive educational planning and management.

Putting gender equality at the core of education

Schooling, apprenticeships, counselling... despite the progress observed over the last 25 years, girls' education faces many cumulative obstacles. The corresponding issues relating to the education of boys are no less complex. In education systems, these gender inequalities concern pupils, but also teaching and administrative staff. 

Targeting eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI) was launched in 2019 as part of the G7 Summit. The IIEP Africa Office provides technical leadership to this international consortium aimed at building the capabilities of education system stakeholders and developing resources for gender equality with and through education. 

Technical support for gender and education

As part of its commitment to equity and inclusion in education, the IIEP-UNESCO Dakar office aims to place gender equality at the heart of education sector strategies and practices. Within the framework of the Gender at the Centre Initiative, our team of gender specialists provides technical support to the ministries of education of the eight countries involved in the project: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Chad.

Gender mainstreaming 

These support missions result in a transversal integration of the gender dimension in the development, implementation and monitoring of education policies. These missions include:

  • Education sector analyses.
  • Education sector plans.
  • Tools for planning, programming and budgeting of educational policies.
  • Tools for monitoring and evaluating education policies.

Depending on the context and needs, more targeted interventions to conduct participatory assessments or to promote inter-ministerial policy dialogue are carried out with national structures. IIEP-UNESCO Dakar's technical assistance aims, above all, to develop organisational capabilities and promote autonomy in gender-sensitive educational planning in ministry and education administration. In addition, our teams assist with the transformation needed to institutionalise and integrate gender issues into education systems. 


The IIEP-UNESCO Office in Dakar designs, coordinates and delivers high-level training courses aimed at building professional and institutional capabilities around gender issues in education. These are intended for those in charge of educational management and planning in the eight programme countries - and more broadly on the continent. This training is available in various formats and covers various themes:

  • A short training course on gender-sensitive education planning.
  • A cohort programme to bring together a community of educational planners in Africa for the purposes of professional development and networking.
  • Customised training on gender in education systems for the eight countries of the Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI). 

    ​​​​​​Learn more about training in gender-sensitive educational planning 

Acquiring and sharing knowledge

IIEP-UNESCO Dakar is conducting and coordinating several action-research projects within the framework of the Gender at the Centre Initiative. Throughout the programme, resources and methodologies will be made available to professionals to clarify gender equality practices in education, facilitate understanding of the issues and challenges and assist in decision-making. 
The studies and work in progress will result in:

  • Methodological guides for gender integration in education sector analyses and plans.
  • A research publication on gender and education issues among displaced populations.
  • A research publication on gender norms, power dynamics and the management of reform in four African countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sao Tome and Principe. It is produced in partnership with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and the UNESCO Regional Office for West Africa, with funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-CDRI).
  • A guide to gender institutionalisation in education systems.

More broadly, Gender at the Centre Initiative contributes to the international and continental debate on gender in education. In this context, IIEP-UNESCO participates in major international events related to inclusion and equity issues, such as the Generation Equality Forum in 2021. 

About the Gender at the Centre Alliance

Launched in the summer of 2019 at the G7 summit  in Biarritz France, the Gender at the Centre Initiative brings together the governments of eight beneficiary countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Coordinated by the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI), the Alliance also includes partners from international organisations and civil society:

  • The headquarters and the national and regional offices of UNESCO 
  • The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)
  • The African Union - International Centre for Girls' and Women's Education in Africa (AU/CIEFFA) 
  • A consortium of civil society organisations comprising the African Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA), from the international plan of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)

As a key component of the Alliance, IIEP-UNESCO provides technical leadership for the Gender at the Centre Initiative through its Africa office in Dakar, in close collaboration with the ministries of education of the countries concerned.


Fabricia DEVIGNES - IIPE-UNESCO DakarFabricia Devignes
Programme Manager / Gender at the Centre Initiative
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