Author: Adetokunbo Omisade (Nigeria)
Gender inequality starts early in life for girls all over the world. A report from UNESCO in July 2016 stated that more than 130 million girls are out of school. The number of girls denied basic schooling is staggering- they would make up the tenth largest country in terms of population. Girls around the world are denied education because of poverty or tradition; they have to care for younger siblings, have to work or marry early. Other reasons that prevent girls from going to school include violence and conflicts. Attacks on schools in at least 70 different countries were documented during the period 2009-2014, with a number of these attacks being specifically directed at girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education.
There is an African Proverb which says that “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a family and a nation.” According to the Educating Girl matters, “ Numerous studies have demonstrated that educating women and girls is the single most effective strategy to ensure the well-being and health of children and the long-term success of developing economies.” A report from the World Bank Group shows that “Better educated women tend to be healthier than uneducated women, participate more in the formal labour market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better healthcare and education for their children. All of these factors combined can help lift households out of poverty.” Not only does an education boost health and wealth, it strengthens the security.
That is why the fight for girls’ education is important. The Malala Fund stated that free, safe quality education is the right of every girl. I am involved in campaigning about calling for more action on girls’ education in the world’s poorest countries.
I went to the UK Parliament for an International Women’s Day event where I met with over 50 Members of Parliament and urged them to join a global day of action to speak out for girls missing out on school due to their gender. The meeting was part of a global ‘walk-in’ organised by the anti-poverty group The ONE Campaign ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 1.
The event was part of ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign, which calls on global politicians and leaders to put girls at the heart of development because when empowered with an education, they are able to lift entire communities out of poverty. By pressuring them to increase investments in girls’ education around the world and also breaking the barriers relating to girls’ education.
In the world’s poorest countries, each additional year a girl remains in school, adds 12% to her income, which builds up across communities to make them healthier, wealthier and more stable.
The fight against extreme poverty and for better security starts with getting an education for 130 million girls.
Background Paper, attacks against girls seeking to access education. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WRGS/Report_attacks_on_girls_Feb2015.pdf
Malala Fund. https://www.malala.org/girls-education
The World Bank Group (2016). Education Global Practice, Smarter Education Systems for Brighter Futures. SNAPSHOT Reaching Girls, Transforming Lives. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/212341467999691082/pdf/98450-REVISED-PUBLIC-WB-EGP-Reaching-Girls-040816-final6-web.pdf
UNICEF, Leaving no one behind: How far on the way to universal primary and secondary education? Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002452/245238E.pdf