Universal education, meaning provided by the state independent of gender is not yet the norm. In some western countries, women have surpassed men at many levels of education. In the West we take our education for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. We have had to struggle to have the right to an equal education – something men have always taken for granted.
- Women represent two thirds of the worlds illiterate population
- 66 million girls are still out of school around the world
- The learning levels of girls in third world countries are lower than those of boys
- Attendance rates of girls decreases as they progress through the education system
The barriers to girls education has always been social and economic demands:-
- Household obligations
- Child labour
- Child marriage
- Gender based violence
There are still inadequate legislation and policies in 3rd world countries. For example – in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there are formal and written threats to close girls schools, which has fuelled attacks on these facilities. Religion has fuelled a new generation with contempt for western education. Notably the Taliban and Boko Haram are constantly in the news, and the shooting of Malala and the abduction of the Chibok girls is well documented around the world.
Even in some progressive societies we see boys given unfair advantages. Take China :-
Along with the custom of foot binding it was recognised a woman’s virtue lay in her lack of education. As a result female education wasn’t considered viable until the 19th century. The Christian missionaries brought female education to China.
Between 1931-1945 the percentage of uneducated women was 90% and most education stopped at 11 years old for the lucky 10%. With the establishment of The Republic of China this changed.
However, boys in china still have a better chance of getting to University than their female counterparts. Although girls are assumed to have the same rights as boys, they still have to achieve higher marks than male students to be accepted to University.
Here are a few facts on why improving girls education makes sense:-
- Infant mortality rates of babies whose mothers have received primary education is half that of mothers who are illiterate.
- 50% of girls in poor countries do not attend secondary school. However, research shows for every extra tar a girl has an education it increases her lifetime income by 15%
- Improving female education, improves the standard of living for their own children as women invest 10-20% more of their income into their families.
- Education increases a woman’s health awareness. they are less likely to marry at a young age, or have teen pregnancies
- Education helps women to be independent and creases their levels of resources, if they wish to divorce or escape domestic violence.
Women have the power to make a change, to take control of their own lives.
If we allow girls to be persecuted for wanting an education – we are letting them down. I have said it before and I will say it again, religion has no place in education – our schools need to be safe havens for education.
When Malala’s father was asked what he had done to help his daughter’s education, he replied:-
‘I DIDN’T CLIP HER WINGS’
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