One of the major differences between first world countries and the others is access to education. In 2017 Unesco quoted a figure of 264 million children who are not in school. These children are usually the poorest and the ones with fewer opportunities. As a side note, the issue is not limited to second and third world country. The US rates on the tables along with China, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Education is seen by the United Nations as being one of the basic human rights, and with all due respect to the education of boys, the situation for girls is markedly worse. If a family has to choose which of their children to educate and only one can go, it will be their son.
There are plenty of countries which still see educating their female children as a waste. Their real need is to understand how to run a home and bear children. Developing countries who don’t have that view are in the minority – realizing that women who are better educated produce families who are better educated is a relatively enlightened view.
The factors affecting girls’ education
The view there’s no point educating girls often goes along with more pernicious barriers to education. It is one thing to get girls to school but it is another to get them into an environment where they are safe and able to learn.
Girls fight against more than cultural norms. Girls caught in conflict zones, where violence against women and girls is used as a weapon, often never see the inside of a classroom. Keeping a daughter at home as a rape-avoidance measure suddenly doesn’t seem such a harsh measure.
Poverty is another factor. The World Bank cites an example where in the northwest of a sub-Saharan nation only 4% of girls can read, but in the southeast where there is less grinding poverty, the number goes up to 99%.
- 31 million primary school age girls are not in school.
- Girls with eight years of education are less likely to be married as child brides.
- There are 33 million more boys in primary school than there are girls
- Where a mother can read her child is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5
- One extra year of education can make a 20% difference positively to the amount a girl can earn
We know, without a doubt that girls who face multiple disadvantages – poverty, living in remote locations, living in a culture which marries their daughters as children etc., – are the farthest behind and will probably never make up the gap.
The United Nations, the League of Nations and the World Bank Group all see the education of girls as a major strategic initiative. Women are more active than that. There are literally thousands of groups who take on this work at a local and international level. There are thousands of different types of project, multiple different approaches but one aim. Teach the world’s women.