Improving Education for Women:
A step towards gender equality
- Two-thirds of the world's 799 million illiterate people 15 and over are women
- 67 countries have primary school attendance and enrollment rates for girls less than 85%
- In LDC's the ratio of women to men is 60/100
- In Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East fewer than one-third of girls attend school
How to Promote Gender Equality Through Education
- Require that governments in LDC's with significant gender inequality invest more money in education, so that high school fees that often prevent girls from entering school can be abolished. Statistically, when families in LDCs have multiple children, and the school fees are high enough that they can't afford to send them all to school, they are more likely to send the boys. By abolishing high school fees that prevent significant entry barriers to girls, more girls would be able to attend school which would promote gender equality.
- Make the topic of gender inequality fueled by different levels of education and access to education a topic in schools. If more children were taught about this topic and recognized that it is an issue, it would create a group of more informed children who are more likely to affect change as they mature. Gender inequality is a hot topic in MDCs, and because of that measures have been made to combat it, but in LDCs the topic is often swept under the rug and ignored so efforts to combat it come from outside entities such as the UN. Another important addition to education is sexual and reproductive education. Young girls that are pregnant or have children are often barred from attending school, so in order to prevent discrimination because of their status as mothers it is important to make sure fewer school age girls are in that situation. On top of preventing more school age girls becoming mothers through sexual education, they need to be legally protected so they are not allowed to be prevented from going to school because of their situation.
- The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a study that found negative trends in girl's test scores as they progressed through school with male teachers, and a positive trend in their test scores when taught by female teachers with no adverse effects on male's test scores. The study also found that both genders are better at teaching children of their own gender, but females were better overall. This proves that recruiting female teachers could be a viable option to keep girls in school once they are there, as their parents could not cite their bad marks as a reason to withdraw them, girls would most likely be more engaged because of more personal attention, and they would have more role models that show the power of education.
- From a legal standpoint, it is important to ensure that all children have the proper identification papers at birth. Statistically, girls are less likely to have these identification papers and it can prevent them from taking entry exams or registering for school. Governments need to advocate for the birth registration of all children, but especially girls. This would be most effective on a community level. Governments also need to implement compulsory education laws for all children, which would make education a right that can no longer be taken away from children.
- One year of primary education correlates with a 10-20% increase in a woman's wages later in life.
- A year of secondary education correlates with a 15-25% increase in a woman's wages later in life.
- An extra year of education decreases the risk of her children dying in infancy by 5-10%
- Education has proved to be the most effective way to combat HIV/AIDs in LDCs. HIV spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls, and a recent study of school-based HIV prevention programs showed a reduction of 75% in terms of the likelihood that children would become sexually active in the primary school years.
Call to Action:
One of the best ways to support increased efforts to get girls more involved in education is to support organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children that actively invest large sums of money towards improving girls access to education. UNICEF partners with UNESCO and the World Bank to help developing countries increase gender equality through education. An easy way to help promote change and spread the information about gender inequality in education is through signing up with UNICEF to receive newsletters on their work and ways to get involved. This could be as simple as following them on social media and sharing their stories, or as involved as volunteering with them and donating money to their work. By educating yourself on the issues, you can educate others in an effort to effect change.