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Helping to empower the world’s most disadvantaged women

Image of Dr Michael Ngoasong

The Open University has received £400,000 funding from UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, to be its content development partner. This is as part of the Second Chance Education and Vocational Learning (SCE) Programme (2018-21) which aims to develop context-specific, affordable and scalable learning and employment pathways for empowering the world’s most disadvantaged women and young women.

The OU is piloting an approach to course development by producing, and supporting the production of, three high-quality courses. These are for six target countries (Chile, Australia, Cameroon, Mexico, India and Jordan) and will build on the local partner content and address high priority gaps. The nine-month initiative, which ends in June 2021, will result in courses being available on the OpenLearn Create and the UN’s Kolibri platforms.

The SCE programme is being piloted in these six countries and aims to directly benefit 67,000 women and young women from indigenous, refugee, displaced and low income groups. These marginalised women and young women face a combination of key barriers and vulnerabilities that prevent access to relevant educational programmes. These include geographic and cultural barriers such as gender-based violence, low income, early marriage and childhood pregnancy, conflict and displacement, and poverty and migration.

The OU’s project team, featuring Academic Lead Dr Michael Ngoasong (pictured) and OU Business School colleagues Professor Liz Daniel and Professor Jo Brewis, the International Development Office (IDO) and Learner and Discovery Services (LDS), is collaborating with the Cobra Collective. This project combines subject matter expertise in extensive Business School course production and the University’s international development work. It is also leveraging expertise of the OU-led Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute (GESPi) which drives innovative, interdisciplinary research in gender, entrepreneurship and social policy.