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Why girl’s education benefits everybody

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: October 7, 2022

6 min read

With women representing about half of the population, it just makes sense that education should be equally important for both boys and girls. However, at present this is simply not the case.

According to UNICEF, around 129 million girls around the world are out of school – including 32 million of primary school age and 97 million of high school age. As a result, many women are 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 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 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.

Being born into poverty hugely decreases an individual’s access to quality education, and this is an issue that affects both boys and girls. Education becomes less of a priority when a family is faced with food insecurity. Currently, 264 million children and young people are missing out on the chance to enter or complete school.

Schooling can often be expensive too, which means a family might have to decide which children can receive an education. Oftentimes in these circumstances, the boys are selected because girls are seen as future homemakers and boys as future breadwinners. Only 49% of countries have achieved gender parity at a primary school level.


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“For every 10% increase in female literacy there is an increase of 10% in life expectancy at birth, and around 0.3% of economic growth.”


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Another key barrier to girls’ education is a lack of hygiene and sanitation at schools – with some schools having as little as one toilet for the whole school and a very small number of bins. This means that when menstruation begins, girls don’t have a place at school to change their period cloth or pad, depending on what they can afford, and so must store these items in their pockets, try to relieve themselves in the open where people might be watching or skip school entirely during this time of month. In addition, a lack of segregated bathrooms or bathrooms all entirely creates a much higher chance of attack from snakes or other male students or adults. The risk is so great that girls are warned off using public school bathrooms and to rather hold it all day – which can severely affect concentration and cause serious health problems. Both of these reasons play a big role in girls missing or not even enrolling in schooling. 

A lack of education becomes a vicious cycle encompassing a lack of sexual education – which leads to a higher teen pregnancy rate and a higher infant mortality rate.


Why is quality education important?

According to the Guardian, for every 10% increase in female literacy there is an increase of 10% in life expectancy at birth, and around 0.3% of economic growth. 

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 UN SDG #4 fourth 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 literacy 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.


What you can do to help 

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’re already seeing a positive improvement.

Today, GVI has assisted 6,000 women and girls in receiving training or educational support, which will give them the necessary skills and education to make decisions about how to improve their futures.

By allowing students to improve and learn at their own pace, steady strides are being made in the quality of education. This steady improvement brings the goal of gender parity within education that much closer, 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. 

In addition to assisting in improving the quality of education, you could also work alongside the community to improve the quality of sanitation facilities at schools in Nepal. Or you can be part of improving women’s and girl’s access to healthcare information – including reproductive health – by hosting public health workshops in a number of beautiful countries around the world.


Do you feel inspired to be a part of creating a fairer future? Contact GVI today.

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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