A number of issues have been raised by the reporting countries in this area which is a basic component of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies, mainly related to the finding that educational qualifications continue to have an insignificant effect on occupational segregation by sex. Women appear to be in different streams of educational attainment and fields of specialization, and have not yet emerged in larger numbers in scientific and technical fields. The effects of positive action programmes and other specific policy measures to channel women into traditionally male dominated occupations have not yet become statistically visible except in countries such as Sweden, Norway and Canada.
In most countries of the ECE region, women have not crossed the heavily guarded bridge from equality of education to equality in economic life. According to recent information, educational parity has been attained by women in several countries but this achievement has not been translated into equal opportunities in the labour market. The report from Finland underlines that, while education has improved women's status both in working life and in social activities, women's career development is slower and wage levels remain lower than men's.
Since the 1980s, about 52% of all students in Denmark were women which has improved their educational levels compared to men. During the period 1982 to 1992, there were also a number of reforms in vocational education which have channelled women away from so-called women's occupations, such as social and health training. From 1987 to 1982, the percentage of women PhD students increased from 23 to 33%.
In Sweden, equality within university and higher educational institutions was made a legal requirement by the 1992 Higher Education Act. A ten point programme was established in 1993 with the main aim of increasing the proportion of women in post-graduate studies. It was found that boys chose subjects such as engineering and natural sciences while girls chose languages and nursing. This had happened despite the fact that home economics, technology and textile handicrafts are compulsory for both sexes. Even when teachers and school administrators took active measures to promote equal opportunities, children were influenced by the social environment at home and the way they were socially treated as boys and girls.
In Canada, women's participation in traditionally male dominated professions has increased: in 1993, women accounted for 27% of all doctors, dentists and other health professionals, up from 18% in 1982. There was also a sharp increase in the proportion of women employed in management and administrative positions. In 1993, 40% of those working in one of these categories were women, up from 27% in 1981. However, it should be noted that as much as 40% of this increase may actually be attributable to changes in occupational definitions.
In France, there has been a general upgrading of the level of education of girls, who have been reaching higher levels of achievement in diplomas and degrees. In 1982, only 25% of those in the category of non-manual occupations were women; in 1990, their number increased to 31%. Similarly in the UK, girls are currently out-performing boys in science subjects in examinations in age groups 16 to 18. The position of women in further and higher education has generally continued to improve, with women accounting for more than half the enrolment in further education courses. In Portugal, the percentage of women's participation in higher education has shown only a slight change since 1980, but here too they have achieved equality in numbers. The statistics as provided by the national report were: in secondary education 53.26 (1980), 53.1% (1985) and 52.76 (1991); while in higher education the percentages for 1980, 1985 and 1991 were 43.9%, 49.7% and 55.5% respectively.
From the statistical information provided by the government of Bulgaria it appears that women and men have also achieved parity at all levels of education. For example, women make up 50.4% of the total number of students in secondary schools and 47.6% in technical secondary schools. They account for 55.6% of the total number of economically active persons with academic education. On 31 December 1991, women made up 28.6% of the total number of scientists, 30.43% of professors and 5.26% with doctorates. Among social scientists, women constituted 51.88%. In Kazakhstan, 68.66 of women have completed their secondary school education, while 11. 6% obtain university diplomas.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends such improvements with respect to integrating environment and development in decision-making.