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. 

A special shout out to  @IIEP_UNESCO  and the Gender at the Center Initiative headed by Fabricia Devignes. Their team worked with us to develop an amazing Education Sector Analysis (read here…) and other Gender Responsive courses! True partnership!

David Moinina Sengeh
Minister of Education & Chief Innovation Officer, Sierra Leone

Training courses

IIEP-UNESCO Office in Dakar designs, coordinates and delivers high-level training courses to build 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 multiple 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 

Gender Community of Practice

IIEP UNESCO Dakar's Gender and Education Community of Practice Workshop meet up in Dakar.  The Gender at the Centre (GCI) team worked with the community of practice on gender institutionalisation and policy change roadmaps to advance gender mainstreaming in their ministry of education.

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.

Applied knowledge and data analysis

IIEP-UNESCO is committed to promoting knowledge-based and data-driven education policy, planning approaches and management practices. To this end, IIEP’s research and development program and GCI are currently developing projects in five priority workstreams with the following objectives:

  • Bringing together existing relevant knowledge and cutting edge data analysis techniques to improve the impact of gender mainstreaming policies in and through education in the GCI countries.
  • Conducting new research to fill knowledge gaps and data analysis needs in the GCI countries, in partnership with various organizations
  • Share and disseminate widely the knowledge produced in GCI countries and for the international community.

The five priority areas are:

  • Challenges and opportunities for female leadership in education (ex. female school principals)
  • Education responses for a gender-responsive integration of populations in crisis situations
  • Gender, skills, and labour market integration
  • Challenges and policy responses to address school dropouts 
  • Information systems to better identify, monitor and respond to school-based gender-based violence

Women in Learning Leadership (WiLL)

Women in Learning Leadership (WiLL) is a joint initiative of IIEP-UNESCO Dakar, the Gender at the Center Initiative – GCI, and UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight. Through an approach that combines the co-creation of evidence with national capacity development, hand in hand with Ministries of Education and partners, WiLL seeks to promote the adoption of best school leadership practices while promoting equitable gender representation in school management positions in low- and middle-income countries.

Learn more about WiLL 

Videos : our impact

From Mozambique to Nigeria, from The Gambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, see how our activities are having an impact.  

Advocacy brief

The Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI) is an innovative program that collaborates with governments, civil society, young feminist activists, and local actors to promote gender equality in and through education. This advocacy brief outlines the challenges and vision for achieving gender equality in education, and shares the impact and results of GCI’s work.

Download the pamphlet

Advancing gender equality in and through education:


Fabricia DEVIGNES - IIPE-UNESCO DakarFabricia Devignes
Programme Manager / Gender at the Centre Initiative
IIEP-UNESCO Dakar Focal Point on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse 

UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse by its staff.
Learn more about UNESCO policy on protection against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse