Importance of girls’/women’s education
Gender inequality in education is extreme. Girls are less likely to access school, to remain in school or to achieve in education. Education helps men and women claim their rights and realise their potential in the economic, political and social arenas. It is also the single most powerful way to lift people out of poverty. Education plays a particularly important role as a foundation for girls’ development towards adult life. It should be an intrinsic part of any strategy to address the gender-based discrimination against women and girls that remains prevalent in many societies. The following links will further explain the necessity of girls’/women’s education.
Everybody has the right to education, which has been recognised since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The right to free and compulsory primary education, without discrimination and of good quality, has been reaffirmed in all major international human rights conventions. Many of these same instruments encourage, but do not guarantee, post-primary education. These rights have been further elaborated to address issues like quality and equity, moving forward the issue of what the right to education means, and exploring how it can be achieved. As a minimum: states must ensure that basic education is available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable for all. (4A scheme) The right of girls to education is one of the most critical of all rights – because education plays an important role in enabling girls and women to secure other rights.
Cultural and traditional values stand between girls and their prospects for education. The achievement of girls’ right to education can address some of societies’ deeply rooted inequalities, which condemn millions of girls to a life without quality education – and, therefore, also all too often to a life of missed opportunities. Improving educational opportunities for girls and women helps them to develop skills that allow them to make decisions and influence community change in key areas. One reason for denying girls and women their right to an education is rarely articulated by those in charge: that is their fear of the power that girls will have through education. There is still some resistance to the idea that girls and women can be trusted with education. Education is also seen in some societies as a fear of change and now with globalization, the fear becomes even greater- fear to lose the cultural identity, fear of moving towards the unknown or the unwanted, fear of dissolving in the many others.
Basic education provides girls and women with an understanding of basic health, nutrition and family planning, giving them choices and the power to decide over their own lives and bodies. Women's education leads directly to better reproductive health, improved family health, economic growth, for the family and for society, as well as lower rates of child mortality and malnutrition. It is also key in the fight against the spread of HIV & AIDS.
Educating girls and women is an important step in overcoming poverty. Inequality and poverty are not inevitable. “The focus on poverty reduction enables the right to education to be a powerful tool in making a change in the lives of girls and women. Poverty has been universally affirmed as a key obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, and it has a visible gender profile. The main reason for this is the fact that poverty results from violations of human rights, including the right to education, which disproportionately affect girls and women. Various grounds of discrimination combine, trapping girls in a vicious downward circle of denied rights. Denial of the right to education leads to exclusion from the labour market and marginalisation into the informal sector or unpaid work. This perpetuates and increases women’s poverty.” (Tomasevski, 2005)