IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


A school in Madagascar by Milijaona Randrianarivelojisoa


Accountability for gender equality in education

Critical perspectives on an indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"I can change the world - every child counts" written on a school wall in an African country

A 30-month project (2018-2021) funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme.

The Accountability for Gender Equality in Education (AGEE) project is coordinated by a team of researchers at IOE in partnership with colleagues from South Africa, Malawi and the UK.


The study aims to develop an indicator framework for gender equality in education that supports work on gender equality indicators for the SDGs, particularly target 4.7 and 4a:

The indicator framework will be reviewed by a technical committee set up for this project with representation from United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI) and the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM).

Indicator framework as a mechanism for accountability

A key focus of this research is to explore how evaluating learning outcomes links with the wider agenda for gender equality and women's rights.

The study intends to investigate, in selected countries, how such an indicator framework is regarded as a mechanism for accountability. The project is being implemented in two countries: South Africa and Malawi.


The project's objective is to develop an indicator framework to track aspects of gender equality in education in order contribute to the measurement and evaluation of gender sensitive and inclusive learning environments, which include learning outcomes.

A key aspect of the project is to undertake technical work in relation to SDG4 in combination with examining critically how indicators are regarded as a technique of accountability for gender equality in education. This will entail generating the indicator framework through critical participatory discussion at local, national and international levels in conjunction with technical expertise.


There will be engagement throughout the project with key stakeholders from the academic community, government, key international development agencies, and relevant civil society organisations, including representatives from the international women's movement.

Research team

Current team

Previous team members

Related links

Advisory board
  • Silvia Montoya, Director at UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS)
  • Nora Fyles, Director of the Secretariat for the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI)
  • Steve MacFeely, Chief Statistician, Department of Statistics, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • Nicole Bella, Senior Statistician and Policy Analyst, Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM), UNESCO
  • Pali Lehohla, formally Statistician-General, South Africa
  • Antonia Wulff, Coordinator, Education International (EI), the world federation of teacher unions
  • Ireen Dubel, international women's rights and gender equality expert

Advisory committees in South Africa and Malawi are being constituted.

Academic articles and chapters


  • Unterhalter, E. (2021 Forthcoming). Addressing intersecting inequalities in education, in T. McCowan and  E. Unterhalter (eds.), Education and International Development: An introduction (2nd edition). London: Bloomsbury.


  • Anand, P. Ferrer, B. Gao, Q. Nogales, R. and Unterhalter, E. (2020). COVID-19 as a Capability Crisis: Using the Capability Framework to Understand Policy Challenges, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Vol. 21(3): 293-299. 
  • Unterhalter, E. (2020). An other self? Education, foreignness, reflexive comparison and capability as connection, Comparative Education, Vol. 56(1).
  • Unterhalter, E., Robinson, L. and Ron Balsera, M. (2020). The Politics, Policies and Practices of Intersectionality: Making gender equality inclusive in and through education. Background paper commissioned by UNESCO GEM Report Gender Review 2020. Paris: UNESCO. 


  • North, A. and Longlands, H. (2019). Gender, poverty and educational equality, in M.J. Schuelke, C. Johnstone, G. Thomas and A. Artiles (eds.), The SAGE handbook of inclusion and diversity in education. London: Sage.
  • Peppin Vaughan, R. (2019). Global campaigns for girls’ and women’s education, 2000–2017: insights from transnational social movement theory, Comparative Education, Vol. 55(4): 494-516.
  • Unterhalter, E. (2019). The many meanings of quality education: the politics of targets and indicators in SDG4, Global Policy, Vol. 10(S1): 39-51.
  • Unterhalter, E. (2019). Balancing pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will: Some reflections on the capability approach, gender, empowerment, and education in D. Clark, A. Frediani and M. Biggeri (eds.), The Capability Approach, Empowerment and Participation: Concepts, Methods and Applications. London: Palgrave (pp.75-100).
  • Unterhalter, E. (2019). Articulation and a theorisation of educational change: Reflections on Harold Wolpe’s work on South Africa in J. Reynolds, B. Fine and R. van Niekerk (eds.), Race, class and the post apartheid democratic state. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press (pp.213-240).


  • Unterhalter, E. (Ed.) (forthcoming 2018). Measuring the unmeasurable in education, Abingdon: Taylor and Francis.
  • Unterhalter, E. S., North, A., & Ward, O. (2018). Accountability for gender equality (pdf, 0.8mb), paper commissioned for the 2018 Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education, Paris: UNESCO. 



Conference presentations
  • Unterhalter, E. (2021). The Politics, Policies and Practices of Intersectionality: Making gender equality inclusive in and through education, paper presented at CIES 2021, Social Responsibility within Changing Contexts, 25 April to 2 May.
  • Unterhalter, E., Peppin Vaughan, R. and Longlands, H. (2020). Accountability for gender equality in education under conditions of climate crisis, paper presented at the HDCA 2020 online Conference, New Horizons: Sustainability and Justice, 30 June to 2 July, Aukland, New Zealand.
  • Unterhalter, E. (2020). Inclusion, equity and gender equality, paper presented for UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Meeting Session on Inclusion, Equity and Gender Equality, online recording.
  • Unterhalter, E., Moletsane, R., Longlands, H. (2019). Gender equality in Education: transforming accountability for the SDGs, paper presented at the SAERA Conference 2019, Durban, 23 to 25 October.
  • Unterhalter, E. and Longlands, H. (2019). Gender equality, accountability and educational capabilities: challenges and opportunities in constructing an indicator framework – reflections from South Africa, paper presented at the NOCIES Conference 2019, Stockholm University, 9 to 11 October.
  • Unterhalter, E., Peppin Vaughan, R. and Jere, C. (2019). Gender and educational capabilities: challenges and opportunities in constructing an indicator framework – reflections from Malawi, paper presented at the UKFIET Conference 2019, University of Oxford, 17 to 19 September. 
  • Unterhalter, E., Peppin Vaughan, R. and Longlands, H. (2019). Gender equality and educational capabilities: challenges and opportunities in constructing an indicator framework, paper presented as part of the Measuring capabilities: gender and indicators panel session, Conference: Connecting Capabilities: the HDCA Conference 2019, UCL Institute of Education, London 9 to 11 September. 
  • Unterhalter, E., Nampota, D. and Jere, C. (2019). Beyond Parity: Measuring Gender Equality in Education in Malawi – Accountability for Gender Equality in Education (AGEE), paper presented at the 2019 Africanist Perspectives on Gender Justice and Equality Conference, Chancellor College, Malawi, 21 March.