Gender equality is still a goal, but not a present reality, for university campuses around the world, according to a new report from UN Women, released Tuesday at the 71st United Nations General Assembly.
"Each generation of university students that emerges from these formative years of education is a new chance for the world to make progress," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and executive director of UN Women, in a press release.
The report stems from a project titled "IMPACT 10x10x10" to reflect the 10 heads of state, 10 chief executive officers, and 10 university presidents tasked with articulating gender equality in their respective arenas.
The education report, unveiled Tuesday, presented results from a study of three key aspects of gender equality on 10 university campuses: representation of men and women on university staffs, the majors chosen by men and women, and the access female students have to academic and professional opportunities.
"A good university is like a tiny utopia – it's a miniature model of how the whole of society could look," said UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson at the launch of the report, the first time she has spoken at the UN since 2014. "All our IMPACT Champions have chosen to make gender parity a central part of the way they educate their students."
The IMAPCT 10x10x10 project falls under the umbrella of Ms. Waton's HeForShe 2014 initiative that aims to involve men and boys in the fight for gender equality. All 30 of the project participants are men, from 19 countries.
"The university experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable, is a right and not a privilege," Ms. Watson said. "A right that will be respected by a community that supports and respects survivors, and recognizes that when one person's safety is violated, the safety of everyone should feel violated."
The report found many prominent gender disparities at universities.
When choosing a major, for instance, women and men still disproportionately choose to follow academic tracks that fit with presumed gender stereotypes, such as nursing and engineering respectively. Additionally, while student populations are equally balanced at the 10 universities studied, the populations of instructors and professors still skew heavily male.
At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., men represent 74 percent of the university leadership and 64 percent of its tenured professors. Similar numbers were seen at the University of Oxford in England, where only 23 percent of tenured professors and 38 percent of senior leadership are women.
But the report also detailed paths to progress. All 10 schools have committed to monitoring progress on an array of educational commitments, including closing the gender gap in the faculty, creating centers for gender equality, and tackling sexual assault and violence on campus.
"Sustainable development is not possible and peace will not be lasting, without empowering every girl and woman," said Irina Bokova, director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at the launch of the Impact 10x10x10 report.
"I see the face of the new global agenda as that of a 12-year-old girl, in school, not forced into marriage or work. It is the face of a 20-year-old woman, at university, creating and sharing knowledge. This is the importance of the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 Initiative," she said.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.