Tackling gender inequality is a central concern within the international higher education community. As institutions, universities provide a vital role in accelerating gender equality through promoting positive gender norms, championing women’s voices, and empowering women’s professional development, often against the backdrop of wider societal inequalities faced by women.

Yet, even within universities structural inequalities remain that prevent women from accessing and fully participating in higher education and going on to meaningful careers after their studies. This is an example of how equal opportunities are not always enough.

Supporting gender equitable scholarships

The CSC is committed to achieving gender equity through its work. By working closely with national nominating agencies and UK universities, we aim to ensure a gender balance across all our scholarships with a gender target of 45% for every programme that the CSC offers.

We support scholarship applicant nominators in making their review processes more inclusive and embedding good practice in communication so that scholarship opportunities are more accessible for marginalised groups and hard-to-reach communities.

We actively monitor Scholars’ experiences through evaluation tools such as the annual Scholar Experience Survey. The feedback we obtain is assessed by gender so we can gauge how are performing on gender equity and identify any inconsistencies in Scholars’ UK study experiences.

As part of an ongoing gender project, we are also undertaking granular research into how Scholars experience every stage of their scholarship journey to assess the impact of gender on their progression from scholarship applicant to alumnus.

Empowering women and girls through targeted programmes

In 2022, the CSC delivered a Professional Fellowship in Girls’ Education for mid-career professionals to support widening access to education for girls at primary and secondary level.

Cynthia Jabuni-Adanu

Cynthia Jabuni-Adanu

“My Commonwealth Professional Fellowship gave me the lens to see in detail the nexus of girls’ education in the world.”


Cynthia Jabuni-Adanu, 2022 Commonwealth Professional Fellow

The programme contributed to the UK government’s target of getting 40 million more girls into education by 2026, enabling Fellows to gain exposure to innovative methods of learning and teaching and develop connections for future partnerships through different UK host organisations.

Fellows developed skills and experience to apply to their particular area of focus with the ultimate goal of advancing gender equity and inclusion through education.

“Girls are able to learn in ways that work best for them through gender responsive pedagogies. To ensure equity and inclusion in girls’ education, teachers must use indigenous technology which uses the girls’ environment in learning, especially STEM concepts. Girls practice indigenous technology yet they fear STEM courses and accept what cultural stereotypes continue to preach to them.”


Cynthia Jabuni-Adanu, 2022 Commonwealth Professional Fellow

With a particular focus on the skills and learning that girls need to thrive in their society, the Fellows sought to apply their fellowship experience in tackling the barriers to educational opportunities and embedding inclusive practice and ideas within the fabric of local communities.

Tabemonso Tabeagbo

Tabemonso Tabeagbo

“With knowledge acquired from my Commonwealth Professional Fellowship, I have been able to sensitise and educate women and girls in my home country of Cameroon on the best practices of using their local resources available to promote their skill development needs and build a resilient economy, society, and environment that are inclusive and equitable in crisis situations.”


Tabemonso Tabeagbor, 2022 Commonwealth Professional Fellow

Alumni Community Engagement Fund (ACEF) 

Both Cynthia and Tabemonso have recently completed activities to support girls’ education in their communities through the CSC’s Alumni Community Engagement Fund (ACEF).

Tabemonso delivered community educative talks and a radio talk show to motivate young girls living in crisis-affected areas of southwest Cameroon to pursue vocational training opportunities and develop skills by utilising local resources available to them. The activity was run in collaboration with his Fellowship host organisation Lifegate Outreach Centre. 

Meanwhile, Cynthia Jabuni-Adanu implemented an activity aimed at inspiring girls in Effutu in Ghana to pursue STEM subjects. This involved supporting and training teachers in how to deploy indigenous technologies, such as those used for traditional cooking, preservation, and local brewing in Effutu, as aids for gender-responsive teaching. The activity also provided teachers with a grounding in gender-responsive lesson planning, teaching methods, and learning materials.

Looking to the future

Advancing gender equity demands collaboration at an international level which is why the recent Commonwealth Declaration for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women sends a powerful message of support for campaigners and educators working to deliver equitable rights and opportunities for women.

On International Women’s Day this year, we join the call to #EmbraceEquity and accelerate women’s inclusion in all areas of life.