A majority of us probably grew up complaining about being ‘forced’ to go to school. However, in some parts of the world, school is a privilege that many people want but may never get. Most of whom are female.
Before we dive into the importance of education, here are 12 confronting stats about women worldwide that everyone should know.
- Globally, there are 31 million girls of primary school age not in school.
- Three countries have over a million girls not in school.
- Girls and young women make up most of the 621 million young people worldwide not in education, employment or training.
- There are 774 million illiterate people in the world and two-thirds are female.
- Unemployment affects more young women than men in nearly all areas of the globe.
- Over two-thirds of all child domestic workers from around the world are girls.
- There is at least one law that acts as a barrier to economic equality for women in 90% of countries.
- Globally, women earn 24% less than men on average.
- A woman has to ask her husband’s permission to work in 18 countries.
- Only 18% of the biographies on Wikipedia are about women.
- Less than 20% of political positions are held by women in Brazil.
- Gender norms are one of the primary obstacles faced by girls and young women when accessing education or employment.
The importance of education
Education is denied to girls in many parts of the world because of cultural and social norms and practices. These beliefs sustain destructive stereotypes about roles for women and reinforce the idea that education is ‘wasted’ on girls. Gender-related violence and other forms of discrimination at school also lead to a high rate of school leaving by girls. But it’s not just socio-cultural factors, there are legal, political and economic hurdles that limit education for girls.
Education not only provides knowledge to a girl, it also gives them power and awareness over their own lives. This should be enough of a reason to support education for girls. Nonetheless, it is important to know that there are also many benefits for society. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence she needs to be a better person, worker and citizen. She will be able to get a job, earn money and add to the demand of goods and services. And she is more likely to take part in political discussions, meetings and decision-making, promoting a more representative and effective government.
In the past few decades, there has been a global movement towards gender equality. However, complex social and organisational structures mean we still have a long way to go. We need a new way of thinking. A way of thinking that ensures we continue to progress towards gender diversity.