Discrimination against women still prevails today in many parts of the world. The prejudiced opinion around education for women versus that of men brings up thoughts of entitlement with regards to the right to education as a whole.
The Oxford dictionary defines education as the process of teaching, training, and learning, to improve knowledge and develop skills.
This reminds us of the old African proverb that says: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)” (Suen, 2013, p. 61).
In his research, Osdan noted that educating girls yields a higher investment return for a country’s economic development” (Osdan 2014, p.218).
The question then still weighs heavy, why is the importance of women’s education such a controversial topic?
This article will look at why the education of women should be supported worldwide by both women and men.
- The gender gap in education is real
Although strides have been made towards improving female education in the past 60 years to reach the highest level of education for women in history, women are still not as educated as men in general around the world (Barro-Lee Education Data).
The gender gap has decreased significantly but still exists even in this modern age of gender equality. In countries where women are more educated, the problem of equal life outcomes still prevails, which questions the state of gender equality as a whole.
“Everyone has the right to education… young children can go to school and be educated despite their gender”
- Why is women’s education important?
Most importantly, it is their right. Article 26 (1) of the Universal Nations Declaration of Human Rights stated:
“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.” (UN, 1948)
To purposefully move into an era of gender equality, and equal rights for men and women, this should start at the foundational level, where young children can go to school and be educated despite their gender.
Young men will feel less entitled and superior to women when they have had an equal chance to be educated at the same level. This, in turn, will result in less discrimination of women.
Women contribute to a large total of the world population. If women were left uneducated, economies would struggle even harder than some of them are already struggling. By educating our women, we will build up economies that will result in growth that will then benefit both genders.
Education is not a Privilege, but a Fundamental Right.
- Socioeconomics as a role
Rankin and Aytac (2006) study found that the main factor for many developing country’s education lies with their socioeconomics. Selective education is a real thing in these developing countries “some go to school, while others stay home to help with household duties or go out to earn money” (p.28).
“Cultural attitudes and beliefs that privilege males over females are associated with wide gender disparities in educational attainment” (Rankin and Aytac, p.28, 2010).
This brings us back to the gender gap as stated above. In these developing countries, it seems that the discrimination of women needing to do the housework still prevails while men are allowed and favored to go to school.
- The cost of not educating girls
When girls are properly educated, they can make informed decisions. These decisions have a direct impact on the economic and social well-being of their country and community.
“An educated woman…. will have a big impact on her as well as her family, community, and country”
An educated woman will understand the impact of quality education in her life, as well as mentioned above, the economic well-being of their country. They are more likely to place value on the schooling of their children and youth in their community, making it a priority to ensure that quality education is given.
Just one extra year of education will increase a girl’s future income by 20% on average, which will have a big impact on her as well as her family, community, and country.
- The aftermath of leaving women uneducated
Being a homemaker is an important, humble, and significant role to take on. But when women don’t have the luxury of making their own choice around their futures, their mental health can begin to suffer.
Social isolation can lead to depression and other health issues (Borgen Magazine). Women should be allowed to join a community, make their own choices, and help grow the economy through professional opportunities if they so choose.
Educated women tend to marry later and rear children later. Less unplanned pregnancies occurs in educated women, and they have less mortality rates with their infants (Forbes 2018).
When education is unavailable to young girls, many end up forced into child marriages. Thus, leaving these girls uneducated leads to harsh circumstances for them later in life. They are often victims of abuse and even death during pregnancy and birth because of this.
Although the world has come far in the area of gender equality and women’s education, there is still much to be done. Some developing countries’ progress in this area is so insignificant that it is worrisome.
Everyone, men and women, should be concerned for the state we find ourselves in, in this area.
Education is not a privilege, it is a basic human right. A right that should be enforced for all. To the benefit of future generations, economies, and above all the women in our local communities.
Written By: Emmanuel J. Osemota