Education and Gender Equality

Why it's important, and how you can help.

First Off, Let's Talk Gender Equality.

Gender equality, by definition, is the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender. In our modern world, we are exposed to a profusion of ways to promote gender equality. However, many of the "modern day Twitter feminists" forget to acknowledge that there is more than just the first world.

The Gender Inequality Index measures the levels of inequality in different countries. For some perspective of how bad women have it around the world (relative to yourself), here are some countries and their ranking in the Gender Inequality Index (remember, the lower the number the better the conditions for women):

  • Slovenia - 1 (ranked first)
  • Sweden - 6
  • Croatia - 30
  • The United States - 55
  • Saudi Arabia - 56
  • Nepal - 108
  • Yemen - 155 (ranked last)

Not all countries are included in the index, but we can use this resource to better understand gender equality conditions around the world.

Yemen is ranked last on the GII, and it is easy to see why. Only 25% of women above the age of 15 in Yemen work in the labor force. Astonishingly, only 0.7% of women have a seat in parliament. But, shocking to many, is the fact that in Yemen only 8.6% of women have some kind of secondary education.

Now Let's Touch on Education

Equal education for both boys and girls is crucial in taking down gender inequality. In order to combat this inequality, there are a number of things we can do:

  1. People around the world need to be encouraged to invest in women's education.
  2. Violence and bias against women must be stopped. To create a world in which women can learn and be paid as much as men, we first have to fix the issues with our "women are less than" mentality. (It's impossible to grow a garden without seeds). One step at a time, as they say.
  3. More often than not, gender equality is not represented in a school's curriculum. For example: sex education. Many of us can recall a moment in which we were introduced to "sex ed," whether it be in 7th grade health class or a high school elective. It is important that we reflect the equality of all genders at school from a young age, and not just in the workplace or at home. Things like equal representation in health/sex-ed books and the teaching of important women in history seem like small changes, but the impact in a young woman's morale can be calculable.

According to the Peace Corps, girls make up a higher percentage of out-of-school children than boys (with world-wide consideration). Approximately one quarter of girls in the developing world do not attend school. This is because of number of reasons:

  1. Families with limited means cannot afford costs such as school fees, uniforms, and supplies. This causes parents to prioritize education for their sons.
  2. Families in the developing world often need their daughters for household chores, carrying water, and childcare.

Education is important in being able to live a better quality of life, and not only in the workplace. An educated girl is more likely to postpone marriage, have a smaller family, have healthier children, and to send her own children to school.

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"What Can I Do to Help," You Ask?

We need to focus on the small things first, then combat the big. Remember: one step at a time. First we fight the little things, like gender stereotyping, and then we can move on to developing women's education and role in society. Here's a couple of things you can do:

  1. First off, educate yourself. It is important to know what is going on in your world, not just your own country. Make sure you are properly educated about women's rights around the globe. The right to a proper education, career, voting, etc. are more common than we like to think. Sure, I would like to not feel obligated to shave my legs, but there are so many more urgent issues affecting women around the world. Get to know the world beyond your own borders.
  2. Combat gender roles and stereotypes. We've all heard phrases like "you run like a girl" or "are you on your period?". Debating these occurrences in everyday life may seem pointless, but they're not. By fighting these small phrases, we can see a major change in women's morale. Empowerment in women, especially the younger ones of our time, is important in not only developing the role of women in our world, but ensuring a better future for the women of tomorrow. It's crazy how much a little girl with confidence can accomplish.
  3. Donate to/support organizations that do work in gender equality and women's education. Organizations like these do their part in educating the public, as well as empowering other people to do work with them. These groups include: Youth on the Move, Girls' Improved Learning Outcome, and The Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program.
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