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'Virus is additional layer to gender equality in education challenge'

Virus is additional layer to gender equality in education challenge
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New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an education crisis, fuelled by deep and multiple forms of inequality having gender roots and implications, the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report by UNESCO has pointed

out. Increase in gender-based violence during the period families spent at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, potential rise in teenage pregnancies or early marriages, possibility of a section of girls dropping out of schools or colleges, girls being at a disadvantage due to shift to online learning and increased responsibilities of household chores, are among the several implications pointed out by UNESCO in the

report.

"Uncertainty over the contagiousness and deadliness of COVID-19 led governments around the world to impose lockdowns, curtail economic activity and close schools and universities. In April, 91 per cent of the global student population was affected in 194 countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated an education crisis, fuelled by deep and multiple forms of inequality. Some of these forms have gender roots and gender implications," it said.

The report said while the extent of implications is difficult to predict with precision, they need to be monitored closely. "The first of these implications is concern that the extended period families spent at home during the lockdown increased gender-based violence. Whether such violence affects mothers or girls, the consequences for girls' ability to continue learning are clear. Second, sexual and gender-based violence coupled with restricted access to reproductive health, police, justice and social support services may increase early pregnancy," it added.

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