the fight for girls education
created by maye adanza & jelsie saul
While all of this can be more or less attributed to misogyny, there is a crossroad where misogyny and poverty overlap that causes an entirely new problem to arise. So, even when one isn't outright against a girl receiving her education, they still feel the unforgiving hand of misogyny. Allow me to explain:Historically, males have always been seen to hold value over females. They are perceived as stronger, more competent - as better investments. This perception does not disappear overnight and still is prevalent in current times. A prime example that showcases this is when you take a look at China's one-child policy (disbanded in 2015). It was a policy made to serve as a solution for the country's rapid overpopulation. This led to a nationwide problem of female infanticide. Many daughters were either aborted, abandoned, given away, or have mysteriously gone "missing." This, on its own, does not have much to do with our point, but it shows that if only granted one child, most would prefer to have a son.They would have a better chance of success in society and are seen as a better option to carry on the family name. This also applies to education. In a lot of underdeveloped countries, education as a whole is already seen as a privilege many cannot afford to have. Even if primary-level education is free, many have to work to support their families instead. A chance at a higher education (or any education) is seen as an investment for your child. So, if you are impoverished and can only send one child to receive a higher education, who do you think would be seen as a safer investment with a higher chance of success? A son, or a daughter?Centuries and centuries of living under a patriarchy does not erase this bias so easily from most people's brains, especially with those who can only afford to think of survival.
Another barrier that often hinders a girl's ability to stay or thrive in school is child/teen pregnancy. This is something that can happen to most cis teen girls, but mostly impacts girls from lower-income backgrounds. Around 21 million girls aged 15-19 in developing regions get pregnant annually.Girls who get pregnant out of wedlock are often shamed and ridiculed, creating a hostile environment for them at school. If they are to keep the baby (whether by choice or, more often, not.), it would be harder to focus on their studies. It is made very difficult to juggle both your pregnancy and your education at once. Many girls in this situation end up having to forgo their schooling, while the male that got them pregnant has more freedom to continue their life as it was before.Ironically enough, girls with less education and lower economic standing have a significantly higher risk of getting pregnant, yet pregnancy is also a reason why girls would be stopped from receiving adequate schooling.This could be solved if more accommodations and empathy were shown to these girls.
Girls are disproportionately more likely to face gender-based violence and/or sexual crimes. 82% of all victims under the age of 18 are female.This can very well serve as a barrier to a girl's education. Sexual abuse negatively impacts one's psyche and well-being. It has been shown to cause insomnia, depression, and anxiety. This can make one lose motivation in their schooling and cause them to fall behind.What makes it worse, is if the problem lies within the school itself. One in ten female graduate students at major research universities report being sexually harassed by a faculty member. This obviously creates a hostile space for women. How are they expected to learn as well as their male counterparts if they are statistically less likely to be safe at their place of education?
Annually, 12 million women under the age of 18 are married off and forced to take on a domestic role as a housewife and mother. Because of this, an education seems futile. Many victims of child marriage don't finish school so they can focus on their domestic duties.This affects one's development and overall knowledge while also placing them in a dangerous position. These girls were already being exploited and abused, now they are completely dependent on their husband with no way to stand on their own.
Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products and hygiene facicilities. Lower-income girls or those who live in areas that cannot provide them with the proper tools to conveniently and discretely menstruate face extra barriers when it comes to their education.Many of the girls that live this reality often have to miss school each month when their period comes, causing them to lose out to valuable learning and making it more difficult to keep up with their studies. Girls that miss school during their period can lose up to 20% of the school year.IIf they fall behind enough and are unable to pass their year-end exams due to their missed schooling, they may not be able to return to school. In some countries, one is not allowed to return if they failed their year. And even if they can, many parents are not willing to pay for their daughter to repeat her year. That leaves young girls with little choice except to drop out and get married off.Shame also plays a factor in this specfic sub-issue of the topic. Periods are stigmatized worldwide. There is a lot of taboo and misinformation that surrounds such a subject, often leading to the discrimination and alienation of menstruating girls. This can lead to exclusion and missed opportunities either through outright discrimination or just lack of confidence due to ridicule.
Educating our girls is a crucial step to dismantling the deep-rooted misogyny in our society. It is not the be all and end all, but it's the first step. This cannot be substituted with anything else. Education is the window to success and freedom. It opens the door to opportunity and give you more choice in your own life.Not only that, but knowledge and educating our girls will allow them to identify when their rights are being violated and will give them more of a voice. Knowledge can be a powerful weapon. Good education leads to better career choices, which would grant girls financial freedom and prevent them from getting into dangerous positions in their life. (Will allow them to stand on their own and not rely on anyone that may abuse that power.)
Article 26 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:"Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit."Everyone deserves a fighting chance at a life of their choice.
Educated women create more and better workers. Which is better for the economy. Despite what societal norms may say, investing in girls education actually is a great move. It increases her personal earning potential and reduces poverty in her community. A one percent increased in female education rates raises the average GDP for her country by 0.3 percentage points.
Click the button to read her story!
An 8yr old girl living in Lebanon. Since her mother’s death, she felt responsible for taking on the domestic duties of household chores and looking after her younger siblings. The SAWA organization reached out to provide the support Sarah needs to be able to continue school regularly.
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A 17-year-old girl from Guatemala. In her rural village, it’s the norm for girls to drop out of school after sixth grade and become married with children. Maria reached out to MAIA Impact School, where she wanted to pursue her education and her dreams. MAIA gave Maria the resources she needed to receive the education she deserves. Maria Florinda was selected to speak at a Girls Opportunity Alliance event in New York, where she presented and connected with many people why a girls’ education is important in empowering lives.
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A Pakistani female education activist. At age 15, she spoke out when her right to education was taken away by the Taliban. In October 2012, she was shot at the head for using her voice. Malala woke up in England, recovering with surgeries and rehabilitation. After this experience, she dedicates a charity named Malala Fund to dedicate giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future they choose.
Funnily enough, an amazing way to help this cause is by educating others. It may not seem like a lot to you, but any sort of discussion and acknowledgment of this issue helps spread awareness. Read more about it on your own! Talk about what you've learned here with a friend or family member!All the resources used to make this carrd are cited here if you would like to start doing your own research. It is also available under "Resources" at the start page.
Write to your mayor/councilman/anybody that you think has power to make some changes in your city. We may not be able to make direct changes to struggling girls overseas, but there are still education barriers in the first world. For example: period poverty and lack of support for pregnant women.Be loud. Do not settle for this. Make people care. Show them why they should care.Only together can we solve this problem.