World Teachers' Day Pushes For Gender Equality on Campus

The organizers want you to thank a teacher and push for gender equality in the teaching profession.

Today is World Teachers' Day, a chance for students and former students to acknowledge the hard work teachers do every day. Founded in 1994 and observed annually on October 5 in more than 100 nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Education International promote the day as an opportunity to celebrate educators and advocate for international standards for the teaching profession. Sure, you can send a teacher a thank-you note through the site, but UNESCO and Education International want the public to think about the big-picture issues affecting the world's educators. This year's theme for the day is "teachers for gender equality".

The majority of teachers around the globe are women, but inequality still exists at both the school and district levels. In a joint statement, UNESCO and several other NGOs write that as the teaching profession has become "increasingly feminized, conditions of service, pay, and status have deteriorated."

In the United States, roughly 76 percent of the 3.2 million public school teachers in the United States are women. But, despite anti-discrimination and affirmative action policies, the majority of principals, district administrators, and superintendents are male.

Children need to see both male and female role models working at all levels of the education system. To that end, the World Teachers' Day statement calls for "equal opportunities for women to be school leaders, institutional managers, and decision-makers within ministries of education," and calls for more men to be recruited into the teaching profession, particularly at the elementary school level. After all, "if we want to give equal opportunities to our daughters and sons to realize their full potential and claim their rights," they write, we have to "attract and motivate capable women and men to teach while also enabling them to create gender-equal learning environments."

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