Girls’ Education in Albania
Albania is one of the poorest of the European nations. Recently, the Albanian Government has been making strides towards economic growth, but it has only now come to realize the importance of empowering and supporting women in the country. The government is empowering women in Albania by taking a stance against violence towards women, encouraging girls’ education and increasing access for women in the workforce.

Violence at Home

The National Strategy for Gender Equality campaign was launched in 2016 to help the Albania Government implement a policy to help women achieve real equality. As it stands now, most of the women are working in agriculture on family farms, often without pay. According to the U.N., almost 60 percent of Albanian women have direct experience with in-home violence.

A woman named Tone from a village in north Albania shared her story of endurance after being in a 10-year arranged marriage full of abuse. Her family had suggested she stay with her husband in spite of the abuse because there were no support systems available for Tone and her children if they left their abusive home. When she finally had had enough, she reported the violence and, to her surprise, the police were timely, responsive and positive. They referred her to the National Centre for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Domestic Abuse The Centre is up and coming and is currently aiding around 100 women victims annually.

Tome’s story is just one of several stories of women’s suppression in this poverty-riddled nation. In fact, one in two women are victims of abuse in Albania. For those that have not found a helping hand and been able to escape the harsh realities of inequality, the story acts as a cycle. Children who come from uneducated mothers are less likely to complete schooling if it is even available to them in the first place. The influences of home life, such as violence, inadequate funds, illness, excessive children in the home or lack of transportation, make it hard for children to succeed in school.

Promoting Education for Empowering Women in Albania

Because children from these homes require more support to make it through school without the heightened risk of drop-out, UNICEF has joined forces with the Albanian Government to promote Child-Friendly Schools (CFS).  These CFCs encompass a holistic education based on the needs of children who need the most help, especially girls. The projected outcome of the CFS plan is to make education in Albania more readily available by increasing the country’s GDP budget towards education up from 3.27 percent to 5 percent. The hope is that, with education and proper emotional support, these girls will grow up better educated and better equipped to enter the workforce.

Sociologists are quickly realizing that empowering women through education is crucial for national growth in any developing country. In 2006, Albania joined the Global Partnership for Education and has since implemented strategies for equality such as gender quotas that will make girls’ education in Albania more accessible and better equipped to serve these young ladies. The program has already seen an increase in primary and secondary school completion rates.

Many girls in Albania don’t have the same access to education due to conflict or crisis, poverty or because so many young girls are married. With access to primary and secondary education that is made more available by USAID and other activists, women will be empowered and, therefore, be able to make better choices that support their individual needs and dreams.

Improving the Future for Women in Albania

Women make up half of the Earth’s population, which equates to half of the human capital. Rigid gender roles and cultural tradition have delayed the realization of equality for some women in countries like Albania, but as change happens, government officials are seeing the benefits of humanity and equality along with the need to act. Together with the Government of Sweden, U.N. Women is raising awareness of women’s rights across each of the 10 municipalities in Albania. The good news is that in 2014 there was a 51 percent increase in female participation in the labor market.

The majority of Foreign and Domestic aid for Albanian women is geared toward equality as a whole, which means progress for women and girls in Albania. Escaping violence, becoming educated and empowered and gaining access to the workforce are all necessary for achieving equality and truly empowering women in Albania.

– Heather Benton

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Myanmar
In an interview with UNICEF Myanmar, one father, living in the impoverished Rakhine state of Myanmar, stated that his main hope for his daughter’s future is that she gets a good education.

Even as considerable progress is made by the government and humanitarian organizations, girls’ education in Myanmar continues to persist as a problem plaguing the millions of girls entrapped in the cycle of poverty. However, this is a problem that can and hopefully will be solved.

In the text below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in Myanmar are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Myanmar

  1. Education is a constitutional guarantee in Myanmar, which is a clear sign of the government’s support for this issue. Thus, any girl who wants to attend school has the legal right to do so.
  2. While schools are technically free from fees, a myriad of hidden costs such as uniforms, supplies and even transportation can prove to be an inhibiting factor in a girl’s ability to attend school. Many girls are forced to help their families in the workforce rather than go to school, earning money and helping immediately instead of investing it in their education.
  3. The majority of girls in Myanmar attend primary school. As USAID survey has shown, 77 percent of girls were reportedly enrolled in primary school in 2000, in comparison to boys at 78 percent. Although there is no gender gap regarding primary school enrollment, there is a gap in secondary school enrollment: most girls drop out, either by choice or the constraints of poverty. This trend is further illustrated by the fact, reported by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, that roughly 1.7 million girls over the age of 15 are illiterate in the country.
  4. Girls’ education in Myanmar is complicated by the fact that there are 135 ethnic minority groups within the country. Thus, inequities exist between the accessibility of education for girls of different ethnic backgrounds. For example, the recent outbreak of violence against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority has caused 727,000 people to flee to Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh. Given the limited resources in refugee camps, young Rohingya girls face an uphill battle in receiving an education while displaced.
  5. Many young boys in Myanmar have been mobilized as allies in the fight for girls’ education. In interviews conducted by UNESCO Bangkok in partnership with the Myanmar Literary Resource Centre, young boys living in and around the city Yangon were brought to tears discussing the plights their female counterparts face. One boy, Htun, declared, “If girls are happy and have access to basic rights like education, they can find better work, do more and earn more. Everyone will be happier, right?”
  6. Many geographical constraints prevent girls from attending schools. In addressing this issue, within the past three years, the government has started developing an informal education office to aid and support informal education measures, such as religious-based schools or certificate programs. This new office is entitled as the Department of Alternative Education.
  7. UNICEF is one of the largest supporters of informal schools, recognizing the power of girls’ education to combat poverty in some of the poorest states of Myanmar. This organization has built schools and programs around the country. One of the examples is the work in the Yangon region.
  8. Nonprofit organization GirlDetermined has taken an innovative approach by specifically targeting young girls’ potentials as future leaders. By engaging them in workshops all over Myanmar, they are mobilizing a new generation of girls who do not only have the capacity to lead but the belief that they can as well.
  9. Making room for girls in schools ensures they have a safe space, helping prevent sexual assault and harassment. The United Nations Population Fund realized the correlation between these two issues, so on November 25, 2015 (the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women), they launched a campaign across girls’ and women’s centers in Myanmar, posing the question: “Everyone benefits from girls’ education. How have you?”
  10. Educated girls from Myanmar are changing the country. As reported by The Guardian, a group of girls who participated in GirlDetermined’s education and empowerment workshops took their skills to the streets, crafting and publishing a statement on the lack of female representation in Myanmar’s parliament. Their actions created a ripple effect, leading to other women’s groups to call for more women in the country’s politics as well.

Girls’ education in Myanmar sits at the intersection of pressing global issues, namely poverty and sexual assault.

Empowering girls through education will not only improve the futures of the girls themselves but the future of Myanmar’s economic and political standing in the global system as well.

– Miranda Wolford

Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Girl’s Education in Jordan
Education is a weapon that can transform lives, especially for the female population. This fact is true for the girls in the small Arab country of Jordan as well.

Sending a girl to school allows her to build confidence and contribute to the country’s economic, social and political development. Although education in Jordan has reached gender parity in 1999, social norms and traditions, along with other factors, block Jordanian girls from fully utilizing their education in the job market. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls education in Jordan are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in Jordan

  1. There is no specific gender disparity in Jordanian primary schools. Over 94 percent of girls attend school compared to 95 percent of boys. Girls in rural areas are just as likely as girls in urban areas to attend school.
  2. About 10 percent of girls who are secondary school age (12-17 years old) are not participating in the education system, compared to 15 percent of male youth of the same age. Although the number is in favor of girls, the percentage is not satisfactory and is mainly the consequence of child marriage or low school performance followed by dropout.
  3. Since 14 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, child marriage occurs often among Jordanian girls in order for parents to be relieved of their financial responsibility. Around 13 percent of girls in Jordan marry before turning 18 years of age. Over 86 percent of girls who marry under the age of 18 have only finished their elementary education. The situation is not better for the Syrian refugee girls that are coming to Jordan since 33 percent of them are already married. This significantly decreases their chances of school enrollment.
  4. The Syrian refugee crisis has strongly impacted on education in Jordan. It has created overcrowded classes and increased educational costs for the government. The government strives to improve its educational standards for girls and boys alike despite this setback caused by the humanitarian crisis. UNICEF is partnering with the Ministry of Education to educate refugees and supply classroom furniture and learning materials. Plan international Jordan create safe child-friendly spaces for Jordanian and Syrian refugee children under the age of 5, which increases the chances that they will attend primary school.
  5. Jordan has one of the highest literacy rates for girls in the Middle East, which is a staggering 97.3 percent. However, this educational advancement does not transfer over to the job force. Jordan has one of the world’s lowest rates of women participating in the workforce at 13.2 percent. If a gender gap in Jordan’s workforce continues to exist, the country will experience a reduction in potential GDP growth of 0.5 to 0.9 percent per year.
  6. A good education is no guarantee that the girl will find employment. Thirty percent of women with a university degree or above are unemployed in the country. The percentage of woman that believe there are obstacles to women’s employment is at 76 percent. They consider that these obstacles have a cultural and religious background that pressures women to stay at home, as well as a lack of women’s job opportunities.
  7. There is a large socio-economic gap that exists in Jordan. In 2009, only 16 percent of girls from underprivileged households excelled above level 2 math, compared to 57 percent of girls from wealthier households. Costly private schools that usually offer better education are reserved for the upper class of society.
  8. Jordan’s government is working to support the empowerment of women and girls. It has partnered with the USAID Mission in order to create policy reforms. Together, they have already developed 59 laws and procedures that promote gender equality. USAID also supports the establishment of Jordan’s first women’s caucus in Parliament and has provided 2,343 women with better employment opportunities. The organization also launched its Takamol Project, a five-year program that encourages governments and civil society institutions to address gender equality.
  9. The government seeks to keep girls safe in their learning environment as 59 percent of schools in Jordan have a guard and surrounding fence. Compared to boy’s and mixed schools, girl’s schools have taken security measures more seriously in order to avoid break-ins or vandalism.
  10. Go Girls is a nationwide initiative that exposes girls to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects by leading hands-on training workshops. This organization specifically targets public schools and refugee camps in Jordan who have little access to technology. Launched in 2015, Go Girls has already educated and helped thousands of girls across the country.

Thanks to the joint effort of Jordan government and organizations such as USAID, UNICEF and other nongovernmental organizations educational opportunities in the Jordan are significantly improving.

As can be viewed from the top 10 facts about girls education in Jordan shown above, the education of the girls in the country can be improved, but the main focus in the future should be on ensuring the girls with equal job opportunities after the successful education.

Grace Klein
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Costa Rica
From rainforest tours to deep-sea diving adventures, Costa Rica has made a name for itself in the fields of travel and tourism. The country is primarily known for these reasons and the conversations about other positive aspects in the country, such as the continuous improvement in education, are often left out.

Costa Rica is dedicated to its famed biodiversity but has also taken immense steps to improve its youth’s education, especially for girls. The article below details the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Costa Rica.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Costa Rica

  1. Costa Rica is among the 25 countries that have closed the educational gender gap. The country has one of the highest education levels in Latin America since it began implementing gender equality legislation in the 1990s. This legislation made the government responsible for guaranteeing equal opportunities for men and women in education, which includes technical education.
  2. The country was quicker than most countries to ensure quality education to both boys and girls. In 2000, the Government of Costa Rica created the Gender Equity Office in the Ministry of Public Education to speed up gender equality and equity between men in women in the education system.
  3. Costa Rica spends more money on education than any other Latin American country. As of 2018, 4 percent of the country’s total Gross National Product (GNP) and about one-fourth of the national government budget is devoted to education. This number is comparable to many industrialized countries and more girls can enroll in primary school.
  4. To increase the chances of girls’ enrollment in secondary education, Costa Rica has created a plan to change family health. This governmental plan addresses the education barrier girls commonly face like pregnancy which is a growing issue as 13 percent of girls enrolled in Costa Rican schools are either pregnant or are already mothers.
  5. Girls have a higher enrollment rate in tertiary level education than boys. The percentage of girls in this level of education is at 59.8 percent, while the boys are at 46.6 percent. As a country that is often cornered in conversations about education, this higher education enrollment rate is impressive. In comparison, according to the World Bank’s data, the world’s average for girls enrolled in tertiary education is only 38.9 percent.
  6. With the improvement in girls’ education, more economic and job opportunities are being created for women. In 2000, 76.6 percent of Costa Rica’s female population were working for wage or salary. In 2016, this rate increased to 83.7 percent, while the employment rate for their male counterparts was at 75 percent.
  7. The girls’ primary school enrollment rate is substantive today. In the last 20 years, the rate has increased substantially. Today, nearly 97 percent of girls are enrolled in primary school and an average of 97.3 percent complete this stage of their education, passing boys that are at 95 percent.
  8. Upon graduating from primary school, 84.5 percent of girls go to secondary school, while 96.6 percent of boys do. This is due to the country’s high teen pregnancy rate. Organizations like Soy Niña (I’m a girl) are helping to increase girls’ enrollment in secondary school by holding learning sessions across the country that provide girls with tools to improve their self-esteem, critical thinking, leadership, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.
  9. In 2017, for the first time ever, Costa Rica and other countries participated in the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science in the country. The San Jose UNESCO office, alongside the National Institute of Women, spent the day celebrating efforts to increase girls’ participation in science education. Today, women make up only 28 percent of scientific researchers.
  10. According to UNESCO, the Latin American country has set several other goals to reach by 2030. One of the goals is the continuation of decreasing the number of girls who dropped out of school. As of 2016, only 6,000 girls had dropped out, while six years prior almost 10,000 had.

Costa Rica’s commitment to bettering girls’ education is not only inspiring, but their methods could serve as a guide to other countries. As exemplified in the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Costa Rica above, providing girls with a quality education does not just benefit the students, but the country as a whole, as new economic opportunities are created and a stronger workforce is built.

If Costa Rica continues to make strides like the ones described, it is only a matter of time before they become known worldwide for much more than their coffee and scenic travel destinations.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in El Salvador
In the 1980s, El Salvador was involved in conflict associated with protests, kidnapping and gang violence.

During this time, children in El Salvador faced hardships such as the lack of secondary education, limited job opportunities and early pregnancy.

The education sector was affected by the conflicts happening in the country. Military combat led to the destruction of some schools which prevented children from attending their classes. Today, education has improved and El Salvador has gained support from many beneficial programs.

Issues still remain and need to be improved, and one of the most important ones is supporting education equality between male and female students. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in El Salvador and the differentiation in education between the genders in the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in El Salvador

  1. Due to the culture in the country that as implies the El Salvadorian women running the household while the men bring in income, girls usually spend a lesser amount of time in school compared to boys. Boys spend around 4.6 years in school while girls only spend around 3.4 years. Many girls are forced to end their education prematurely in order to help with duties at home.
  2. Gang violence, abuse and the threats made towards girls while being in school make it difficult for them to maintain an education. In 2015, 30 schools reported the act of sexual violence or misconduct towards the girls in school. It is nearly impossible for a girl in El Salvador to gain justice when many of the cases are not reported, and does that are, are rarely investigated.
  3. Girls as young as 12 are pressured to start a family. Having to maintain so much responsibility leads to education exclusion for females while males continue education. Logically, boys have a better chance at pursuing a career due to the advantage of staying in school longer.
  4. Based on statistics in Santa Catarina Masahuat, 92 percent of children complete primary education. Out of this number, 98 percent are boys and 86 percent are girls. Statistics at a national level, estimated by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, showed that the gross enrollment ratio for females who attended secondary school stood at 74.24 percent in 2016. In comparison, enrollment in 1970 was 19.64 percent. The gross enrollment ratio in 2016 was, however, higher for men than women.
  5. In 2015, El Salvador’s literacy rate was estimated to be about 88 percent. The literacy rate for men was around 90 percent and for women was 86.2 percent. These statistics include people aged 15 and above.
  6. Marriage is illegal in El Salvador if you are under the age of 18, however, Article 14 of the nations family code made underage marriage possible under certain circumstances. These circumstances allowed for a girl to be forced into marriage if she was pregnant at 13 with no consent required.
  7. UNICEF El Salvador continues to advocate for children’s rights. In 2017, the Legislative Assembly voted to prohibit child marriage. By doing so, the country office used social media and the U-report platform to inform the public about sexual violence and early child marriage of the young girls. A survey was issued to ask for opinions on how to eradicate child marriage. About 70 percent of the U-report survey takers claimed that they know a young girl either married, pregnant or already a parent.
  8. Parliament of El Salvador closed the loophole in the child marriage law in August 2017. This is a huge step towards enabling the rights for girls education in El Salvador. This gives them hope they need to continue their future in education. Carmen Elena Aleman, Country Director for Plan International in El Salvador, stated that there is still much to do and that it will take time to change the practices and beliefs that are so deeply entrenched within the society. The responsible people must redouble their efforts to raise awareness of the damage this practice does to girls’ lives in the communities.
  9. According to UNICEF, education for girls is extremely important and has a multiplier effect. Girls that receive education are more likely to marry later and conceive fewer children which benefits their health and their education. These girls will then grow up with better social and work skills that will enable them better lives.
  10. UNICEF supports gender equality and has set the Gender Action Plan (GAP). This plan empowers young girls who were at risk of child marriage or who are already married by building support networks and providing them with life skills. Strategies are created to prevent violence and discrimination against girls and boys in school or in general. GAP is the roadmap to gender equality and opportunities in El Salvador but worldwide as well.

Girls’ education in El Salvador is a lot different than boys education in the country, considering the facts listed above. Although education has improved for girls, there are still changes that need to be made.

With the support of programs like GAP and organizations like UNICEF, hope is given to young girls in continuing on with an education and a healthier lifestyle. Plans like this one create a stepping stool to gender equality and poverty eradication.

– Kathleen Smith
Photo: Flickr

Efforts to Improve Girls Education in Djibouti
Educating young people is one of the first steps to decreasing extreme poverty in many underdeveloped countries of the world. In Djibouti, this fact has been recognized and progress is being made to educate children. The special attention is on educating young girls in the country.

Statistics of Education in Djibouti

In four short years, between 2002 and 2006, net school enrollment in Djibouti rose from 43 percent to 66 percent. This was viewed as amazing progress at the time, but it was still unsatisfactory. In order to meet the standards of the Millenium Development Goals, Djibouti needed to lessen the statistic that showed that one of three children is not attending school. The final goal of the government is to get all its boys and girls into school.

Within the statistic mentioned above, the majority of the children not attending school were girls. To fix this, the focus was on bettering girls’ education in the country. Two organizations that have done an amazing job on girls education in Djibouti are UNICEF and Global Partnership for Education Efforts.

UNICEF Efforts

UNICEF discovered, without any surprise, that the main reasons why girls are not enrolled in schools were directly correlated with poverty and social problems. These reasons included the fact that most of the girls out of school were orphans, homeless and neglected. Other factors that affected this statistic were health problems and disabilities.

UNICEF implemented the Basic Education and Gender Equality Program which was composed of three components: equal access to educational facilities, quality of primary education and non-formal education. Each component had subtopics within them.

The most important and impactful ones were social mobilization efforts, creating mass media educational systems, promoting child-friendly school systems, increasing teacher training, increasing women involvement in teaching, better access for children from rural areas and the development of alternative teaching methods.

Global Partnership for Education Efforts

The Global Partnership for Education Efforts partnered with the Djibouti government for the first time in 2006. Their education sector plan for the country is a nine-year program, planned from 2010 to 2019.

This organization has very similar goals as UNICEF, which makes sense since these are partner programs. However, it is still important that yet another organization pushes hard for equal education rights in the country.

The program has six main objectives. The first is developing a pre-school system that connects rural, urban, private and public sectors so that everyone receives the same education across the board. For primary education, their second goal is to have 100 percent of eligible children enrolled by 2019. They have settled for 79 percent for secondary education, understanding the need to work in some situations.

The third goal is to eliminate the gender disparity. The organization understands the importance of bridging the gap between genders so that girls can become future leaders, teachers and lawmakers who will continue to fight for equal rights for all citizens in Djibouti. This goal is the most important one from the standpoint of improving the girls’ education in Djibouti. The remaining goals all have to do with reform on every level that interacts with the education system in Djibouti. Global Partnership for Education has many strategies that they are using to reach these goals.

The government of Djibouti has been aware of the need to increase school enrollment of girls since the early 21st century. Since then, they have been working with organizations like UNICEF and Global Partnership to fix disparities.

Being aware and making moves to fix things are some of the most important steps to fixing a problem, especially one concerning poverty and education rights. The fight for increasing girls’ education in Djibouti is not over yet.

Global Partnership still regularly updates their progress on the matter, with their most recent article being from October 2018. Keeping hope alive and working together matters most in these harsh times.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in Rwanda
Although Rwanda is considered an impoverished nation, it ranks number four in gender equality. On the same scale, The United States ranks number 49. Interestingly, this shift towards gender equality in Rwanda came as a result of the 1994 genocide.

Before that tragic event, women were usually caretakers and were rarely financially independent or in a position of power. During the genocide, more than 800,000 people died in just 100 days, and most of these individuals were men. This shifted the population to be 60 – 70 percent female and as a result, women were forced into formerly male-dominated jobs.

Government Support of Women

President Kagame led this movement, realizing women were necessary for the country’s recovery because there simply were not enough men to rebuild. The government rewrote the constitution in 2003, encouraging female education and requiring at least 30 percent of positions in parliament to be held by women.

In the first election following this change, the requirement was exceeded with 48 percent of seats going to women. The following election saw an even greater increase with 64 percent of parliamentary seats being held by females. This makes Rwanda number one in a global ranking of countries with the most women in legislature. For comparison, The United States ranks 96 with only 19 percent of seats going to women.

Social Inequality as a Mindset

Despite these great strides towards gender equality in Rwanda, women’s perception at home does not seem to line up with that of their public lives. Girls are still raised to be submissive both in school at home, believing that something as simple as becoming president of a club is reserved only for men.

While they are holding positions of power and becoming economically independent, women still fear speaking out against their husbands and are expected to continue to be the only one to take care of housework and childcare. Many Rwandan women see the term “feminism” as a negative, Western concept.

Unlike most social movements, this change in gender equality did not come from the oppressed group, but from President Paul Kagame. Rwandan women were ushered into positions of power before they truly believed in the movement, and now, they must play catch up with their mindset.

Working to Change Preconceived Ideas

Many organizations are helping to change that perception, starting with female education. Women to Women International has a one-year foundation training program, enabling women to become financially self-sufficient and, subsequently, build the confidence to fight for their rights and equality at home. This organization has helped 76,000 women in the ten years it has been operating.

The Akilah Institute for Women is an all-female college that fosters a more positive learning environment for women, enhancing the skills needed to launch careers in many different fields. The Institute has an 88 percent success rate for graduates. Fawe’s Girls’ School encourages young girls to take STEM courses to overcome the stigma that these classes are generally for men. They work to empower girls to understand their importance and to defend their rights. They also work to train teachers to be more gender inclusive.

Gender equality in Rwanda is far ahead of most of the world, but women must truly believe in their rights for this to be effective. With the next generation being raised in a world where gender does not restrict women from a job and schools encourage female participation and confidence; hopefully, Rwandan women will embrace their newfound power and continue to lead the world in gender equality.

Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls' Education in Developing Countries
Girls’ education in developing countries is proving to be an important factor in improving these
 nation’s quality of life. Educational equality is not only a lucrative asset to a country’s economy, but also reduces rates of child malnutrition and decreases the wage gap between men and women in many developing countries. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in developing countries that will be presented below will help to illustrate the global situation regarding the participation of girls and women in general in the classrooms of developing countries.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Developing Countries

  1. Girls’ education affects a nation’s economy. According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), when girls receive an education, it increases their ability to gain access to higher paying jobs. This adds to a nation’s economy and increases a woman’s involvement in politics. Investing in girls’ education provides a boost to a developing country’s progress and acts as a catalyst for gender equality on multiple levels.
  2. Provided with an education, girls are more likely to earn a higher income later in life, increasing their family’s overall quality of life. Globally, if all girls received a primary education, 1.7 million children would be rescued from poverty-induced malnutrition. In addition, if all girls worldwide received a secondary education, 12.2 million children could avoid malnutrition and stunted growth.
  3. In 2013, UNESCO reported that nearly 25 percent of all girls in developing countries have not completed primary school, and that out of the 774 million people in the world who are illiterate, two-thirds are women.
  4. Education equality has been on the rise in many countries. Thanks to the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) and many other organizations efforts, the total number of girls enrolled in school worldwide increased by 38 million in the period from 2002 to 2015.
  5. Many factors play into the inequality seen in educational systems in numerous developing countries, such as India, where for every 100 boys not enrolled in primary school there are 426 girls. Often, poverty is the primary reason for this discrepancy. When families struggle to send multiple children to class, male children are often prioritized. Many girls in developing countries are oppressed by traditional gender roles that marginalize a female’s role in society.
  6. For every year of secondary school completed, there is an increase in woman’s income by 25 percent. This may seem logical, but many people do not think this way.
  7. Girl’s education can prevent pregnancy in childhood. For each year that a girl in a developing nation is in school, her first child is delayed by 10 months. Pregnancy in childhood can prevent a girl from receiving an education which decreases the chances of her child suffering from malnutrition and disease.
  8. If all women worldwide received a secondary education, this would prevent the deaths of 3 million children.
  9. Girls’ education in developing countries reduces the gender gap found in the workplaces of many progressing countries. UNESCO found that Pakistani women with a primary education made 51 percent of what their male counterparts made. This number was increased to 70 percent when a woman completed her secondary education.
  10. In Somalia, 95 percent of girls aged from 7 to 16 have never been to school. This is the highest instance of educational inequality found worldwide. This statistic affects girls later in life, where Somali women aged from 17 to 22 have received four months of schooling their entire life on average.

Going forward, improvements to girls’ education in developing countries will provide these countries with a more knowledgeable workforce, healthier families, less early-life pregnancies and lower wage gaps often found between men and women.

By providing women with the chance to better themselves academically, our global community has made us all the richer. With the number of girls’ enrolling in school increasing every year, gender equality in developing countries worldwide is becoming a reality.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Flickr

Drone
No technology is inherently good or bad; rather, it is humanity’s use of that technology that can be evil or virtuous.  Certain modern tools seem only capable of carrying out despicable or ultimately evil deeds as controversy surrounds them, and their names evoke fear. Artificial intelligence (AI) and drones are two of the most widely commented on and feared applications of modern science. Despite the prevailing negative perceptions, AI and drones are also used for a good cause: combatting poverty.

Unequal Scenes

Although drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are often used in violent attacks and warfare, they and their human operators are doing wonderful things across the world. Photographer Jonny Miller used drones to capture cityscapes and the line dividing the rich and the poor. He captured images of lush, green golf courses directly up against dirt roads and shack neighborhoods. Giant mansions can be seen with trees and acres of grass next door to brown areas with buildings packed into a small plot. Miller’s project “Unequal Scenes” is raising awareness about poverty and inequality which would be impossible without drone photography.

The Problem of Land Ownership

More than half of the world’s population, usually women, cannot prove that they own their land. This is especially problematic in the country of Kosovo, where most of the men and boys were murdered during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The women who remained have worked tirelessly to rebuild their homes and communities, but they face an enormous roadblock: the inability to use their vast land resources to provide for themselves economically. These women do not have any sort of documentation for their lands once owned by their husbands. One woman explained that she had applied for loans to build her business but was repeatedly turned down because she lacked what the government called “property documents to put down as a guarantee.”

These communities do not have the means to hire land surveyors necessary for official registration. Property owners with potentially good, profitable land are powerless without official documentation. However, drones are helping these women. The World Bank Group’s Global Land and Geospatial unit dispatches drones to map out land plots. Drones survey and map for a fraction of the cost of traditional means, giving the Kosovan women the ability to register their lands and ultimately invest in their own property.

The Positive Impacts of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI, also referred to as “machine learning”) refers to a machine’s ability to imitate intelligent human behavior. AI is often associated with 1980s movies about robots destroying humanity based on a real fear that one day the machines will become self-aware and grow tired of serving humanity; “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” warned Stephen Hawking in 2014. Despite this apparent destructive potential of AI, it is currently transforming agriculture and changing the African business environment in the real world.

One writer argues that Africa is amid the “fourth industrial revolution … ushered in by the power of AI.” Many innovative African business leaders have embraced AI to improve productivity and efficiency. One example is a Moroccan company which uses AI to perform analytics on data sent from devices on motorcycle helmets. This improves riding habits and provides more accurate insurance premiums, reducing costs and improving safety for riders. Another instance involves an Egyptian manufacturer using AI to automate certain processes and reduce overall error while improving quality of service, which ultimately reduces the cost to the consumer. Finally, one Algerian firm helps local doctors provide cancer detection and treatment for their patients. The firm uses AI to create models that can diagnose those who are unable to visit hospitals for formal examinations. This has the potential to save the lives of many who don’t have the means to get regular checkups and screenings.

In addition to previous models, AI is also reducing overall costs for farmers and helping to improve their yields in India. Certain Indian dairy cows are given radio-frequency identification tags that transmit important information about the cows’ diets and overall health to cloud storage where it is “AI-analyzed.” The farmers receive alerts about any potential issues of the cows that require their attention. This can reduce costs and increase efficiency for the farmers.

These are just some of the ways that technology often labeled as “bad” is being used for good, especially in the fight against poverty. Cases like these prove that technology cannot be inherently evil and that there are good uses for AI and drones. While some individuals use modern equipment to destroy the world, there are plenty of men and women using the same tools to improve it.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

BelarusThe Republic of Belarus is an Eastern European nation that boasts a free and universal education system, required for ages 6-14. Belarusian youth attend primary school from ages 6-9 and secondary school from 10-14, most remaining an additional 1.4 years until graduation. In Belarus, education is as accessible to girls as it is to boys.

Gender Discrimination in Society

Despite its accessibility, girls’ education in Belarus does not guarantee that girls will have the same opportunities as boys in adulthood. In 2016, the National Statistics Committee of the Republic of Belarus reported that women earned only 76.2 percent of the salary of men. In addition, many of the nation’s most profitable professions, namely in manufacturing, experience horizontal segregation with a majority of leadership positions being held by men regardless of female employees’ qualifications. This encourages high-skilled women to enter into low-wage public service jobs like education and health care, which are occupied almost exclusively by women.

The Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) and the Office for European Expertise and Communications (OEEC) attribute gender discrimination in Belarus to traditional, patriarchal notions that are ubiquitous throughout Belarusian society. These notions portray childbirth and motherhood as women’s greatest value and devalue the importance of their professional success.

The media, aspects of the compulsory education system, politicians and other government officials all contribute to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes. In a 2014 analysis, the OEEC describes the media in Belarus as “gender non-sensitive” and lacks an understanding of ideas concerning gender issues that they put out into their society. The ADC echoed these concerns in its 2016 report, pointing out that media outlets often refuse to acknowledge misbehavior when criticized for producing gender-biased content.

Gender Discrimination in Education

Belarusian schools, private and public, are at the will of the state and considered political bodies. The Education Code of the Republic of Belarus requires instruction in “the role and purpose of men and women in contemporary society.” Boys and girls attend separate classes to teach them their respective roles in society, reinforcing stereotypes rather than promoting individual development. Girls are instructed in matters of homemaking and boys are taught activities such as woodworking and carpentry.

In 2009, Deputy Education Minister Tatsiana Kavalyova highlighted the importance of ideology in schools, calling it “the backbone” of Belarusian education. According to Kavalyova, every educational institution in the country has an ideology department. As of 2009, the government has continued banning teachers and democratic activists in opposition to the government.

Government agencies have failed to enforce anti-discrimination legislation despite having signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, among other U.N. documents that commit the country to working toward gender equality. As of 2012, 68 percent of government officials and politicians in control of these policies are men.

The OEEC found in 2014 that 86.6 percent of the general public viewed women’s lack of representation in politics as either the natural order of things or as a necessary consequence of their primary roles as wives and mothers. Some men in government have publicly expressed the same sentiment, claiming that “gender equality is perverting society,” that women are “apolitical by nature” or that they should “sit at home and make borscht, not roam around squares.” Yet, in the face of these challenges, there is promise that more progress will be made.

Hope for Girls’ Education in Belarus

The data that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has published paints girls’ education in Belarus in a favorable light. In the organization’s most recent statistics, Belarusian girls have consistently, if only slightly, come to surpass Belarusian boys in academia:

  • In 2015 and 2016, Belarusian girls had higher net enrollment rates in primary and secondary education. Rates for both girls and boys have steadily climbed from the low to high nineties since 2008, and the difference between boys and girls is less than one percentage point.
  • The 2015 transition rate from primary to secondary education was 0.34 percent higher for girls at 98.25 percent.
  • As of 2009, girls 15-24 years old have a 99.85 percent literacy rate, compared to the boys’ rate of 99.8 percent.
  • In 2016, 6,747 girls and 7,654 boys were out of school. Although these numbers fluctuate, there have been more boys out of school each year since 2010.
  • According to ADC’s 2016 report, 56.1 percent of women, compared to 43.9 percent of men, had a higher education.

With girls’ education in Belarus set firmly in place, NGOs have been able to focus on gaining gender equality in other ways. These organizations are able to focus their efforts on both preventing domestic violence and human trafficking and helping victims. Their work has also led to the National Scientific Research Institute of Labor’s development of a concept of gender equality and a gender assessment of current legislation by the National Center of Legislation and Legal Research.

One such NGO is Gender Perspectives, established in 2010. Gender Perspectives offers social, psychological and legal help to victims of domestic violence in Belarus, either directly or by referring them to other organizations and institutions. The organization created a hotline for victims in 2012, which responded to over four thousand calls in 2012 and 2013 and provided 117 with direct assistance.

In 2012, 54 women were selected for the National Assembly in 2012, which consists of 174 total delegates. Although they comprise only 32 percent and their admission was a result of a quota, women’s presence in the government offers hope that the state, with the help of NGOs, will establish gender equality that reaches beyond the sphere of education.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr