Girls are an important resource for global development, but those living in developing countries do not reach their full potential because they do not receive a proper education. Educating girls is one of the most powerful and effective ways to end poverty and crime. According to the World Bank, girls currently represent 48 percent of primary school enrollment and boys represent 52 percent. Even though this gender gap has decreased in the last few decades, girls still account for 55 percent of all out-of-school children—meaning that, on average, for every 100 boys out-of-school, there are 122 girls. In many developing countries, the disparity is even greater. For example, in Yemen the statistic is 270 girls for every 100 boys and in India it is 426 girls for every 100 boys, according to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Why Is It Important?
According to the UN Beijing 20 platform, if all women completed a primary education from lower-to middle income countries, the under 5 mortality rate would decrease by 15%. If all women would complete secondary school it would decrease by 49%. This would equate to saving approximately 2.8 million lives each year. Further, if all women completed primary education there would be approximately 66% fewer maternal deaths, saving approximately 189,000 women per year. In addition, this would result in 15% less child marriages (under 15 years) and if able to obtain secondary education would lead to 64% less child marriages.
Educated women have higher incomes. According to the UN Nations Foundation – the Clinton Global Initiative, investing in a girl will lead to contribution of economic growth when she becomes a woman. Each year of education increases her earning power by approximately 10 to 20% and increase to 15 to 25% with a secondary education. In addition, when women earn income, they reinvest 90% back into their families.
According to UNESCO, in young women aged 15-24 literacy rates are increasing. However, there are still approximately 493 million women who cannot read or write.
Education is vital to provide young girls and women the ability to make changes and obtain a sense of empowerment. Education for girls should be an inherent right, a right that allows them to break a cycle of poverty and in turn allows them to contribute to the economic growth of their families and community. Education equals power and the ability to make informed and healthy decisions. Girls who are attending primary and secondary education have lower rates of child marriage, child-bearing and are less vulnerable to diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
There are cases around the world of organizations actively trying to halt education for young girls. The Nigeria case of Boko Haram terrorist organization, which targeted and kidnapped girls going to school. There is the case of the Taliban who shot Malala Yousafzai in the head for educating herself at the age of 15. Many young girls fear acid attacks in Afghanistan; acid is thrown in their face attempting to go to school. What is the fear of young girls receiving an education? These young women and their parents brave each day, and do not allow extremists intimidate their right in getting an education. We as a global society have a responsibility to ensure we support their actions.
What is being done?
There are various initiatives currently in place to ensure that girls have access to education.
The UIS has developed a new data tool, entitled Left Behind – Girls’ Education in Africa, which illustrates the progress to date as well as the enormous challenges ahead as the international community crafts a new set of global education targets.
Girl Rising campaign, which like India’s Daughter uses their film as a tool for change, focuses on getting girls in school. They have launched Girl Rising: ENGAGE in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa in partnership with USAID.
Our partners, Plan UK have an ongoing campaign, Because I Am a Girl, and one of the areas they focus on is a girl’s right to education. Their plan is to ensure that a girl completes at least nine years of quality education.
The India’s Daughter campaign aims to work closely with it’s partners to address the issue of girl’s education. Please visit our TAKE ACTION page, JOIN US as a partner and DONATE to help us in ensuring that every girl is educated and reaches her full potential.
Innovation and action in funding girls’ education –http://www.ungei.org/resources/index_5976.html
“Girls are like leaves on the wind” – How gender expectations impact girls’ education in West Nile, Uganda – http://www.ungei.org/resources/index_5973.html
Thematic brief: School-related gender-based violencehttp://www.ungei.org/resources/index_5972.html
Are schools safe and equal places for girls and boys in Asia? http://www.ungei.org/resources/index_5971.html
School-related gender-based violence is preventing the achievement of quality education for all – http://www.ungei.org/resources/index_5968.html