Education is powerful.

In my mind, it is the key to development.

In the words of The World Bank:

“Educating girls is one of the strongest ways not only to improve gender equality, but to promote economic growth and the healthy development of families, communities and nations.”

It has proven to be one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. When I talk about education, I am not just speaking of primary and secondary school but of education in nutrition, feminine hygiene, disease, vocational training, and many other important issues. Education is a vital investment. With additional education, girls receive more job opportunities and higher wages. Girls that attend school are also less likely to engage in crime or become a victim of human trafficking. They are more likely to marry later and have few children.

I love the thoughts of Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning, on this issue:

Of the 75 million primary school-age children around the world that are not in school, more than half are girls.

Photo Courtesy of The World Bank

Boys are more likely than girls to receive an education. Boys are seen as future husbands and breadmakers, leaving women vulnerable to housekeeping and family support during the day, when she should be in school. Also, in impoverished communities, it is usually a long distance to school and parents may not want their daughters to walk alone.

Girls need to stay in school. Some things that may help keep girls in school: deworming medication, supplying school uniforms, or financial incentives to families for regular attndance. Studies have shown that it is not enough to just build a school and increase educational opportunities, but it is essential to find ways that will not only keep students, but teachers, attending school. One way to increase attendance is deworming. Students can be dewormed for as little as fifty cents per student.  This alone has proven to increase attention in school and reduce the number or extent of absence by about 25 percent. Read more about other successful ways to improve education for girls at Half the Sky Movement.

Photo Courtesy of Half The Sky Movement

If you would like more information about Girls’ Education, visit The World Bank or Half The Sky Movement.

Share your thoughts

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for a great post Elisabeth. Education really is important not only for empowerment but also for health, which are of course interconnected! I think Saceena Yacoobi really has a point, that the status of women in society really has an impact on children’s education. Let’s keep advocating to make sure that families have the incentives, and understand the impact of putting girls in school.

    1. Thanks Julia! Education is connected to everything. Thank you for your support! What kind of incentives do you feel would encourage families to educate their girls? Aside from bribery? Great thoughts!

      1. I don’t necessarily think that there is a one-size-fits-all solution as there are so many aspects in society to take into account. But I do believe that economic incentives are important. Giving women and men the possibility to join the work force, lead a meaningful and fruitful life, will lead to less children forced into labour, housework or ill health. In some areas this might mean technological developments, such as clean water supply – less children and families have to walk for hours every day to get water, something that is a matter of life and death, or roads, or a bike, making it safe and efficient to get to and from school.
        In some areas however, i think that there are deeply rooted social norms that need to change. Societies need to understand the positive impact of education for girls, how they can change society! That women are cornerstones of society!

        Thanks again for starting this discussion!

      2. I think you are exactly right. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution. I think the best answer is economic incentives. When it comes to social norms, it is difficult in the very patriarchal societies to change the mentality of the community and illustrate the importance of women. But, we continue to push for education and gender equality!

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