School. What comes to mind when you think about school? Close your eyes and think for a second.
I think of books full of knowledge waiting to be devoured. I think of teachers standing in front of the class, doing the best they can to shape lives every single day. I think of cramming for tests, homework assignments I procrastinated, and that anxious feeling the day before I stepped back into those halls after a summer that went by too quickly. I think of my peers, and I smile and think of my friends and the endless memories that I will have forever. I think of the skills and confidence and knowledge that I gained, to prepare me to stand on my own as a positive contributing member of society.
I spent the better part of 13 years of my life inside a classroom and I honestly can’t imagine where or who I would be, without that. But though my formal schooling has ended I am still a student. We are all students. And it’s time that the citizens of this world educate themselves on the status of girls’ education.
As you read this sentence, millions of people around the world, young and old, male and female, are sitting in classrooms. But what about the 77.6 million girls around the world who are NOT going back to school this fall? What happens to them? What happens to us?
Most people don’t realize that globally, education is still far from equal. And though there are thousands of people on the ground trying to turn the tide, currently 86 countries are still at risk of not achieving the Millennium Development Goal of gender parity by 2015.
Why is it so difficult to make progress? Most people—most nations–aren’t aware of how big of an issue this even is. Most people aren’t aware that by not educating girls, everyone is effected. Today, when international development funds are allocated, less than 2 cents of every dollar is directed specifically to girls.
So why aren’t girls getting to school?
- Because their families can’t afford the school fees, or need their daughters to work to help support the family. Around the world, 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty
- Because they’re married off as children. One in seven girls in the developing world is married before her 15th birthday.
- Because getting to school is dangerous - an estimated 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at or on their way to school.
- Because they don’t have access to clean facilities – 1 in 10 school-age African girls do not attend school during menstruation, or drop out at puberty because of the lack of clean and private sanitation facilities in schools.
- Because there are no laws to protect them, or the laws that exist aren’t being enforced.
Because girls education is not looked at as something that’s of value. BUT research has proven time and time again, that when you educate a girl, you can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. Ultimately, 65 low and middle income countries are losing approximately $92 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same standards as boys
Here are the facts:
- When 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3%
- An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10-20 % An extra year of secondary school: 15-25 %.
- When a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
- Children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5.
- Women who are educated are 50% more likely to immunize their children.
- A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.
In the words of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, “We must remind ourselves that ensuring the rights of women and girls is not only a matter of justice. It is a matter of enhancing global peace, progress and prosperity for generations to come.” Educating girls is not just the RIGHT thing to do, it’s the SMART thing to do.
Help us educate these girls. Because they will change the world.
Raise your voice for girls education. Share this with everyone you know. Now.