We all know how important education is and the types of opportunities education creates. But a widely discussed topic relevant to the developing world is why should girls be educated, and how will this ‘education’ they obtain make a difference in their future lives?
According to UNESCO, 65 million girls across the world are out of school and although gender parity has improved there are still more girls than boys out of primary schools in developing countries.
Why is there gender inequality in education?
For girls, especially in developing countries in South and West Asia, there are many barriers to education which has led to gender inequality in education, some of which include
· strong cultural reasons which favour boys whilst girls are bound to household obligations
· limited resources and financial difficulties mean girls are forced into child labour to help towards increasing household income
· a number of girls entering involuntarily into child marriages
Things are improving gradually
Observing South and West Asia, over the last decade it is clear that improvements have been made and across all countries the number of females out of school (primary school age) has reduced but where dramatic improvement can be seen in countries like Bhutan and Nepal, Pakistan still shows slow progress (see chart).
Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) were adopted by the United Nations in the year 2000, of which Goal number 3 is to ‘promote gender equality and empower women’. Read Foundation is making significant contribution towards this goal – 46% of our total student population are girls. In the Afghanistan and Pakistan region there are still many problems which prevent girls from going to school, some of which we just described. So the work of READ Foundation continues.
The impact of education on girls:
Providing girls in developing countries with education will no doubt help break the cycle of poverty and also allow these girls to grasp the opportunities which they should be entitled to but currently are not in their reach. Young girls who attend school delay marriage and childbearing and it is these educated women who are more likely to make more informed decisions about their future, have healthy babies and who are more likely to send their children to school.