Fact: More than 600 million girls live in the developing world. It is estimated that more than one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school. (www.girleffect.org)
Why should it matter if girls receive an education? Culturally, many countries believe that women and girls take care of the home and raise children. They do not need an education for their role as wife and mother. However, I believe education is the key to changing the world. If we educate women and girls, we empower them to make decisions that will affect themselves, their families, and their communities which will hopefully result in a better and more peaceful world.
- Statistics show that when a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children. An extra year of primary school education will boost her wages in the job market by 10-20 % and an extra year in secondary school will boost it 15-25%. (www.girleffect.org)
- In a world where 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day (World Bank 2008, www.globalissues.org), the education of girls is a powerful tool to fight poverty in some of the world’s poorest areas. According to The Girl Effect data, “When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.”
- By receiving an education, women and girls can make informed choices about health care and pregnancy, which can lead to a reduction in maternal and child mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
As women of faith, we need to support and assist girls locally and globally to receive the education they deserve, but there are many obstacles girls must overcome just to attend school.
Culturally, many families do not believe girls should receive an education and that the role of the woman is in the home. Some men are afraid of the power women might gain by receiving an education. Even if a family is willing to send their children to school, many cannot afford it and if they need to choose which child to send, it will most likely be the boy. If a girl has the opportunity to attend school, their family may not be able to pay for uniforms and supplies. Transportation can be another obstacle for a girl to receive an education and, if they do decide to walk the several miles to attend school, quite often the roads can be dangerous and can subject girls to violence along the way. Many schools do not have proper bathroom facilities for girls, or male teachers may subject young women to sexual harassment.
As women, we need to use our education to find ways to offer girls around the world an opportunity to receive their own education. It starts with just one woman and one girl, and together we can empower a world full of women and girls to be economically self-supporting, making healthy choices for themselves and their families, leading their villages and communities to work together and building bridges for a peaceful world.
How can you and your women’s ministry become involved in a girl’s education? Women are resourceful and creative, and I empower you to get involved. Share with us your ideas and projects on educating girls and together we can change the world, one woman and girl at a time.
This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #2 is “Achieve Universal Primary Education.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.
This blog post is contributed by Barbara Anderson, director of “All Hands In,” a ministry organization sponsored by Trinity Baptist Church of East Arlington, MA, addressing the issue of human trafficking.