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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



How can adult learning help to address gender inequality?

by David Mallows
Language: EN
Document available also in: HU

/en/file/epale-equality-adult-edEPALE equality adult ed

EPALE equality adult ed

When I began thinking about gender inequalities I fell into the usual trap of assuming that gender inequality is all about women. It is they who are usually vulnerable, abused and suffer because of inequality at work and at home. But we cannot address that inequality without also addressing men. When we ask how adult learning can help to address gender inequality, we should consider the role of adult education in changing the views of both sexes about what befits a woman and what – a man. This will require the participation of women and men in learning and education.

Women who have been denied learning and education will need support to shift their way of thinking regarding gender issues. The same goes for men who have either been denied educational opportunities or lack motivation to learn.  All over the European Union women form the majority of the adult learning population, and men – the minority. Yet, research shows that those who are already educated are more likely to seek learning activities and become involved in them, either formally or non-formally than those with less education. This applies to both sexes.

We need to understand how to motivate women and men to engage in adult education, no easy task, especially in a more traditional environment in which gender roles are strictly observed. But there is an abundance of practice to learn from if we look across the borders of the European Union and beyond and consult available databases of good practice such as that held by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg.

We all know that adult learning can work wonders, and that an adult’s learning journey may begin in many ways. Slowly at first but by talking, and exchanging and sharing experiences in adult education, women and men can understand and be empowered to address gender inequalities.

Dr. Vida A. Mohorčič Špolar used to work at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education.

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  • vicky Duckworth's picture

    Yes, adult education can transform male and female lives and offer them opportunities to make choices that are empowering. The blog highlights how 'we need to understand how to motivate women and men to engage in adult education' and this I would suggets is the key driver and yet often undervalued in a performative educational system. Value needs to be placed on the rich  experiences and histories adults bring into the classroom, an appraoch that moves from a deficit reducativemodel.