At thinkpeace workshop we believe it is our duty as global citizens to be informed and educated on the challenges facing girls around the world. The next couple of weeks here on the blog will focus on some hard core facts of some of these challenging global problems with the intention of encouraging you to develop a critical lens aimed toward finding a solution. Naturally, these posts will not be fully comprehensive because many of these issues are large, complicated, and without simple straight forward solutions. Understanding the basic core of each challenge is the first step in finding a solution.
This week we will take up the intersection of gender and education.
In this past Sunday’s New York Times, journalist Nick Kristof takes up this issue, “Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books.” I think he’s spot on with this. It’s why Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Afghan Taliban, it’s why Boko Haram took nearly 300 girls from school, and it’s one of the core contributors towards girl-specific violence. Quite simply the equation is this: girls + education = change
If you haven’t yet seen the video The Girl Effect, it’s time.
So why would extremist groups and people in general be threatened by educated girls? Some facts followed by an explanation:
- When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
Fewer children means less people in the workforce which means less hands to be able to work the fields and help around the home. It means that girls gain control of their reproduction which gives them more power to create change.
- An extra year of primary school education boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10-20%. An extra year of secondary school adds 15-25%.
More money for women means that the global poverty rate will go down. A woman will work to address problems in her community, and her children will be given a greater chance of survival.
- Women in 32 countries who remained in school after primary school were five times more likely to know basic facts about HIV than illiterate women.
Education decreases a girl’s or woman’s risk for contracting HIV or transmitting HIV to her baby. Knowing how to prevent contraction or transmission means that the global HIV/AIDS rate will go down.
While we know educated girls are the key to global change, the rate in which girls are attending school has not caught up. Day of the Girl and Girl Rising, both organizations devoted to raising awareness on girls issues gives us the facts:
66 million girls are out of school globally.
Only 30% of all girls worldwide are enrolled in secondary school.
The average sub-Saharan African girl from a low income, rural household gets less than two years of school and never learns to read and write, to add and subtract, as opposed to the average sub- Saharan African boy who fully completes primary education.
There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school.
If India enrolled 1 % more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5 billion.
So if all of these facts are true, why don’t we just cut to the chase and enroll girls in school? You see, it’s not that easy. School in other countries is not always free, it isn’t always available, and families don’t always want educated girls for a variety of reasons. Educated girls will create change, plain and simple. Change is not always easy.
Knowing the facts is the first step in creating change. Girls + education = change. How are you going to change the course of this global challenge?
Send me your thoughts, questions, concerns. firstname.lastname@example.org