Ladies, Get In-Formation

The importance of educating women

Odochi Akwani, Co-Online Editor

In the United States, along with a majority of other first world countries, education is viewed as a must for all genders because it’s part of the values we hold as a society. However, in many third world countries, the demand that children be educated is not there, specifically for women and girls.
Here, in the United States, we have the luxury to further our knowledge past the basics of the ABC’s and simple addition to learning art history or human anatomy. Students, including myself, often complain about these luxuries while children in third world countries would give anything to have the opportunity to learn.
Countries like Niger, with an 11 percent literacy rate for women, and Afghanistan, at 24 percent, are some of the lowest. In these countries education for women isn’t seen as a necessity. Women are expected to take care of household duties at a young age and therefore can’t go to school. Other times, when families must choose between paying for a girl’s education or a boy’s education because of low income, a boy’s education is paid for while the girl stays home. A man’s education is valued more than a woman’s due to the standard set for men to provide for their families through their jobs.
This inequality is not only disadvantageous for these women but also for their country. Investing in women’s education is essential for the development of a country.
According to the World Bank, an institution that aids developing countries in reducing poverty by assisting them in finance and policy through analysis and research, “better educated women tend to be healthier than uneducated women, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better healthcare and education for their children.”
When a girl is educated, she is more likely to raise herself out of poverty by using the skills she’s learned. She will even put money back into her community through the small business she has created for herself. This, in turn, slowly raises their economic standing and breaks the cycle of poverty.
Additionally, the knowledge she’s gained can be passed down to her children, instilling in them the value that lies within quality education. Her children are then raised with the will to learn and the understanding that they deserve to.
Empowerment also comes from being educated. It spawns a setting where women want to reach their full potential, want to improve their personal situation, as well as their community, and want a better future. Without it, they are unknowingly doing a disservice to themselves by not exploring who they are and who they can be.
Initiatives like Let Girls Learn, started by Michelle Obama, aim to assist countries like Niger and Afghanistan in “changing the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community, and institutional levels and fostering an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education.”
They recognize the importance of education for women and are using resources, like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to improve the school climate in countries all over the world.
Along with that, back in October on the International Day of the Girl, the UK Department for International Development launched an initiative to guide girls in Sierra Leone into education.
It’s not just about deciding that girls have a right to education, but also recognizing the barriers that restrict them from getting there.
Access is halted when girls cannot attend safe, good-quality schools with well equipped teachers or if those schools are too far away. Many times the government doesn’t support education so the funds have to come directly from each family. Other times it’s due to early marriage practices where girls, as young 12, are forced into marriage where they inevitably become pregnant and have to stay home to care for their child.
It’s a woman’s right to have the opportunity to learn, and it’s our responsibility to amplify the voices of those women who cannot speak openly for themselves. Education not only benefits the individual woman, but her community as well, so we must make a commitment to help our ladies get information.