Empowering Girls through Education
“I want this school not only to empower Kenya’s girls, but also their mothers, fathers, and entire villages.” –Kakenya Ntaiya @
Did you know that women’s literacy rates are significantly lower than men’s in most developing countries? Education is important for all, but essential for the survival and empowerment of women and girls. Investing in girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.5 Women who are educated are more likely to marry later, have smaller families, understand healthcare and how to access it, and be cognizant of their rights within their society. While global parity for education has been achieved in certain countries, there are still discrepancies between boys and girls in developing regions. Children with educated mothers are more likely to survive than those whose mothers did not receive an education. Children of mothers with a secondary school education are more than 3 times as likely to survive.
Significant progress has been made in achieving parity between 2000 and 2011 with the total enrollment rate for girls increased from 79 to 89 percent for primary education. Despite this progress that has been made in enrolling students in primary school, secondary enrollment has only increased from 67 to 79 percent between 2000 and 2011. 1
Millennium Development Goal 2 ensures that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. MDG3 aims to promote gender equality while simultaneously empowering women. The target aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. While the 2005 portion of the goal has unfortunately not been met there are individuals around the world who are working to provide education and opportunities for marginalized women and girls in regions where they would otherwise be lacking.
While these many successes must be celebrated and passed on, the improvement of equality in the lives of women and girls must continue to be stressed. Women today still face issues such as female genital mutilation, and child marriage, sex trafficking, and misrepresentation in government. Many individuals from around the world, men and women alike, are working to reduce these inequalities and empower women. By articulating the rights of children and women these men and women have created a strong incentive to further equality through the work that they, and others like them, are doing.
Humaira Bachal began to teach at age 13, since then she has encountered constant resistance towards her endeavors to improve the education of both herself and others. Despite the opposition she has faced, she successfully built the Dream Model Street School in Pakistan that now teaches more than 1,200 students. Her work efforts are focused on providing education for girls that would otherwise not have an opportunity to attend school, but does not exclude boys in the process. To see more of the amazing work she is doing in Pakistan, and to read more about her follow them on twitter and facebook.
Malala Yousafzai has become a global inspiration and champion for girls right to education ever since before being shot by Taliban in 2012 for speaking out against the oppressive regime. Malala has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to promote the right to education and founded the Malala Fund that supports educational opportunities around the world.
“I am only talking about education, women’s rights and peace. I want poverty to end in tomorrow’s Pakistan. I want every girl in Pakistan to go to school.”
“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one.”
Ziauddin Yousafzai is a Pakistani educator and advocate for the rights of both boys and girls to a decent education, equality, and a life for women that is free from discrimination. In October of 2012 his daughter, Malala Yousafzai, was targeted and shot by the Taliban. Despite this consequence, he continues to support and encourage women within Pakistan. It is only when progressive women and men such as Ziauddin Yousafzai join together that true equality may be achieved. To hear what he had to say in a recent TED talk, and to learn more about him click on the links below.
Urmi Basu is the founder of the New Light Foundation, a non-profit that works out of slums in India to provide protection and education for young girls. The foundation promotes gender equality and provides services for women and girls that are at risk of both physical and sexual violence. To see more of the work she is doing to educate girls in India visit the website below: Urmi Basu.
Kakenya Ntaiya grew up as a young Maasai girl in Kenya. She convinced her father to let her attend school in exchange for agreeing to circumcision, a feat that is fairly impressive in a district where only 11% of girls continue their education past primary school. She later attended University in the US earning a Ph.D. in education, and has started a school for girls in an area where the education of girls is not invested in, since most will be married by 13. To learn more about Kakenya and the school she has built visit the links below: