Illustrating equal access to education for girls and boys

Posted December 9, 2019

“If we are all educated equally, every generation will be a smart generation,” girl, 14 years old.

In honor of the global campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ (November 25-December 10), the students of Sinuni Secondary School demonstrated their passion for equal access to education through art.

Asked to draw a picture representing why women – just like men – should enjoy the same access to school and college, students of all ages depicted both the power of educated women and the barriers to engage girls in education that still exist today.

This activity, as well as several others designed to mark the 16-day campaign, were made possible through an on-going partnership between Islamic Relief Worldwide and UNDP Iraq. This partnership is a part of an livelihoods project funded by the Government of France, under which 250 returnee and host community members from Sinjar and Hamdaniya will receive small business development support, in the form of training and grants.

Importantly, the project engages community members in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) awareness activities throughout implementation and supports equal access to livelihood opportunities for GBV survivors.

We asked students to tell us why they think education for women is important.

Students from different classes and ages sat together to draw their own messages of gender equality in education. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock


“Girls should have the same rights as boys. I need to know how to communicate – to read and write…and for this, I need an education,”  girl, 18 years old.


Both boys and girls drew unique designs that represent their personal journey with education and equality. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“When I marry and have children, I want to be able to support my family. I want to go to college and be a doctor,”  girl, 17 years old.


A student proudly displays a drawing of a parachute, a metaphor for the potential power of education. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock


“It’s important to know how to communicate well. When I need support for myself or my family – in the hospital or in other places, a good education will make sure I can tell them what I need,” girl, 11 years old.

For each student, education meant something different. This student highlighted his desire to see music taught to both boys and girls. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“I want to see all girls in school! No matter whether you are a boy or a girl, you need to be able to earn a living to support your family – to have a good job…and this is easier if you are well educated. We need more people to start talking about equal rights for men and women,” boy, 16 years old.


Two students display their drawings. LEFT: A graduation ceremony. RIGHT: A map of the classroom. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock


“Everyone should be able to write their name, but some girls aren’t even allowed to learn this. We want everyone to be able to do the same,” boys, 11 and 17 years old.

Two junior students show us that bright colours and smiling faces are one the benefits of educating youth. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“I want to be a doctor and support my whole community. I’m a girl and that’s why I come to school,” girl, 5 years old.


This student proudly displays her blue heart. She tells us that she loves school. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“Education is important for boys and girls, so we can build a bright future together,” girl, 15 years old.


This student drew his future home, one he hopes to share with a family enjoying equal access to a good education. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“Women and men should be independent. If we are both educated, we can support each other and achieve more,” girl, 17 years old.


Students shared drawing techniques, showing one another how to shade and smudge colours. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“Equal access to education is equal access to decent jobs,” girl, 19 years old.


LEFT: This student uses the powerful image of a quill to show her desire to learn. RIGHT: Another student uses the image of a girl on a lit candle to show how women can also shine bright if afforded access to school. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock

“Women should be educated equally so that they can be engaged in the community and represent what we need in our country,” girl, 15 years old.


This student got a little help from a video on how to draw clean lines. She enjoys drawing and creating art. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock


“Both girls and boys need to be educated if we want to achieve our goals as a community,” boy, 16 years old.

This student drew an image showing both the potential light of an educated woman, but also highlighted the strain of limited access threw the melting of the candle. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Marley Tinnock