From learning about menstrual health, to how to build a business, women’s education is something that benefits everybody, regardless of gender.
Roughly 50% of the world’s population are women, yet a shocking number of women across the planet are left uneducated from a young age. As a result, many women are left at a disadvantage to their male counterparts before their life has even properly begun.
The fourth of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) is quality education. This goal aims to improve education in developing countries, to ensure a sustainable future for all. This includes making sure that education is provided equally between genders: creating a more equal playing field and helping to ensure that everybody gets a fairer chance at life.
Why is goal number four, quality education important?
The UN has 17 sustainable development goals, and these are all intricately intertwined. But one thing that links all of these goals together is the importance of education.
An improvement in the quality and equality of education is a huge step toward a fairer, and a healthier world.
Education equips people with the knowledge and skills needed to improve both their own situation and that of those around them. By adding educational capacity to a community, you help the community as a whole and improve all aspects of life: from understanding around healthy living, to equality, poverty and sustainability.
The fourth sustainable development goal can be very closely linked to the fifth goal, of gender equality. When looking at the data, the inequality between genders is stark. 100 million youth lack basic literary skills globally, and most of them are women.
It is easy to see that when women fall behind in basic education, it is easier for men to pick up the reins later in life. This is something that needs to be addressed through the improvement of education, for both girls and boys.
Why is there gender inequality within education?
Facts and numbers are often very useful in helping to identify and understand a situation, but with gender inequality in education, it is important to dig deeper into the underlying reasons for why this inequality exists in the first place.
In many developing countries it is still believed that the woman’s role in the family is in the home: to look after the children, cook, clean, and attend to her husband.
This is a completely valid and valuable lifestyle for somebody who has chosen it, after having been presented with all the options available to them. However, many women across the globe are forced into this lifestyle simply because they are not educated enough to have many other options.
Being born into poverty hugely decreases an individual’s access to quality education, and this is an issue that affects both boys and girls. If somebody is born into a life where every meal is a struggle to scrape together, then education falls way down the list of priorities, and currently, 264 million children and young people are missing out on the chance to enter or complete school.
School can often be expensive too, which means that there may be a choice of who goes to school between a son and a daughter. And if a family evisions a girl’s future as staying home and having children, why spend already scarce resources on her education?
Lack of education is a vicious cycle. This is true also with sexual education. In many societies, young women are often exploited or married off at a young age, and fall pregnant.
Instead of going to school to prepare for a future for herself, a young woman can often find herself in a situation where she is forced to care for a child, when she is not far from being a child herself.
8% of children in India are born to a mother between the ages of 15 and 19 years. In such a scenario, the only way to end this cycle of poverty is by getting this girl to school. Every additional year of secondary school is associated with lower risks of marrying as a child and having a child before the age of 18.
Improving gender inequality through education: India
India is a beautiful country but it is still home to many complex issues that stem from a lack of quality equal education. Gender-specific abortions and infant mortality levels are high, 47% of women are being denied an education, and are instead being married off before the age of 18.
The fourth UN SDG aims to combat this trend. By improving education in India, the cycle of inequality and poverty can be broken, which will, in turn, help to improve the general quality of life.
Educating women properly about their bodies, and reproductive health (including menstrual health) can help to improve their quality of life and give them the knowledge to help each other.
Children’s education is also important in improving the future of India, both socially and economically. Increasing the number of girls going to school, and improving the quality of education that these children receive is seminal to planting the seeds for a better future.
It is important to remember that men play a big part in women’s rights too. Educating boys from an early age about equality, and even just getting them used to sitting next to girls in class, helps to equip them with the mentality needed to see women as their equals.
This is much needed, as globally, there is a huge discrepancy between men and women in high-ranking jobs, with men dominating in top positions.
In the same vein, women-owned enterprises in India contribute just 3.09% of industrial output. With an improvement in quality education, this figure will be much higher in the future.
How improving education helps
Despite educational inequality being high in many countries across the globe, and the quality of education in many developing countries being insufficient, there are ways to improve this. GVI has been working in sustainable development for 20 years, and we are already seeing a positive improvement.
Through educational classes, workshops and training, GVI’s volunteers contributed to the education of 15,203 people to date. This number is growing constantly.
Women’s educational equality is also being improved steadily, and today 5,819 women are receiving training or educational support, which will give them the skills to help themselves improve their own social and economic standing. This greatly improves their employment opportunities, personal fulfillment, and both their and their family’s quality of life.
Through teaching programs, 4,225 students have been supported in reaching age-appropriate learning goals. By allowing students to improve and learn at their own pace, constant, steady strides are made in the quality of education. This steady improvement allows for equality within education, as girls and boys of the same age are taught together, giving them a better chance of accessing the same opportunities when they leave school to go on to prosperous careers. Indeed, girls completing secondary school double their earning potential as adults, bringing them much closer to the payscale of their male classmates.
Do you feel inspired to help improve educational equality? Contact GVI today.