Girls' Education in Pakistan
Girls’ education has always been a point of concern in many developing nations. Pakistan is one among them. The Economic Survey of Pakistan (2015 – 2016) highlights a 2 percent decline in the nation’s literacy rates from 60 percent to 58 percent. Also, while the urban areas mark a literacy rate of 74 percent, it is as low as 49 percent in the rural areas. But, with the increase in awareness, undiluted efforts and the focus on ‘Pakistan Vision 2025’, the future for girls’ education in Pakistan looks bright.

In 2018, fresh hope has emerged for Pakistan as it experiences a host of welcoming changes, all focused on enhancing girls’ access to education:

  1. Korea’s monetary support to UNESCO with the mission of ameliorating girls’ education
  2. Malala Yousafzai’s recent visit to Pakistan for the first time after the Taliban attack in 2012
  3. The launch of the book Knowledge is Bulletproof with a bulletproof cover page on World Book Day.

Korea Extends Support to Girls’ Education in Pakistan

On March 23, 2017, The UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and the Korean Ambassador to UNESCO Lee Byong-hyun signed an agreement to support national capacity building to make girls’ right to education a reality in Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh districts in South Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan.

This $3.4 million project between UNESCO’s Girls’ Right to Education Programme in Pakistan and the Korean International Cooperation Agency aims to bring quality education in the remote regions of Pakistan.

Ambassador Lee expressed how foreign assistance and education hugely improved the post-war poverty-stricken condition of Korea. This clearly highlights the importance of foreign aid in abolishing poverty.

Malala Yousafzai’s Visit to Pakistan

The youngest Nobel laureate visited her hometown Swat Valley in Pakistan on March 31, 2018, not simply to relive the memories of growing up in her house but also to present her hometown with the gift of quality education.

She opened a state-of-the-art school using The Malala Fund and her Nobel Prize money. Malala writes in her blog, “Pakistan comes second after Nigeria in the ranking of out-of-school children, with 24 million girls and boys denied access to education today. My dream is to see all Pakistani children with access to 12 years of free, safe and quality education…In just a few years, Malala Fund has invested $6 million in our work for girls’ education in Pakistan, from opening the first secondary school for girls in Shangla to supporting Gulmakai Champions across the country.”

Malala’s recent visit births new promises for young girls and women who struggle for their rights on a daily basis. Though some parts of Pakistan still advocate the extremist mentality and hatred for Malala, change is slowly ushering in and Malala’s visit proves it. The visit is also a positive answer to all the doubts about government involvement in enhancing the lives of women in Pakistan.

Bulletproof Book for Girls’ Education in Pakistan

On this year’s World Book Day, resistance took a new form in Pakistan. Sanam Maher, a journalist based in Karachi, recently published a novella titled Knowledge is Bulletproof which tells the story of two girls who survived the Taliban attack along with Malala in 2012.

The world has not heard much about Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz who endured the terrifying incident and continue their fight for girls’ education in Pakistan. This book which was inaugurated by the award-winning Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, provides these young activists more scope to voice their strength. Obaid-Chinoy claims that the profits will be donated to charities that work towards improving girls’ education in Pakistan.

The book is designed by advertising agency BBDO and has a Kevlar binding which makes it strong enough to repel a nine-millimeter bullet from as close as five meters. The book is symbolic of the strength and willpower of Pakistani girls and women who continue to attain education despite all the hurdles that come their way. It is also a source of motivation for many girls who refrain from going to school due to many stereotyped social and cultural taboos. “To show that knowledge is indeed bulletproof, it was…ideal to design an actual bulletproof cover for the book,” Maher told The Arab News.

While she is excited at the possibility of reaching out to millions of girls through this new venture, she also hopes that the need for such campaigns lessen with time and more and more people realize the importance of girls’ education.

Education is the backbone of a nation’s economy. If a section of the population is deprived of it, it not only affects the nation’s GDP but also its standard of living. Though poverty continues to affect millions in developing countries, these recent developments offer hope for a brighter and better tomorrow. They prove that transformation is slow but in process. Promoting girls’ education in Pakistan and elsewhere and encouraging women’s participation in the labor force are among the major ways in which poverty can be abolished.

– Shruthi Nair

Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Haiti
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti. In the aftermath, 200,000 people were left dead and 1.5 million homeless. Homes, hospitals and government buildings crumbled, leaving communities scrambling for essential resources and shelter.

Volunteers and relief organizations across the globe swarmed with aid. Most aid groups from the earthquake have since left and the rebuilding process now lies in the hands of Haitian community members and scholars. Eight years later, many still live without basic services (clean water, plumbing) or health resources.

Citizens agree that girls’ education in Haiti and community development need to improve before the country can truly recover. A recent study using World Bank data has listed Haiti as a nation significantly below global enrollment rates for girls in schools.

World Bank data from 2014 states 15 percent of girls 12 to 18 are no longer in school, compared to 11 percent for boys. Only 45 percent of Haitian women over 15 are literate, compared to 53 percent for men over 15 years old. For effective redevelopment, the trends for girls’ education in Haiti are something both locals and researchers agree need to change.

In response to lower female community involvement and enrollment in schools, many research and educational programs focused on girls’ education in Haiti have started gaining popularity throughout the island nation.

Jayne Engle, a doctor of participatory community development in post-earthquake Haiti, conducted a post-earthquake study focused on effective and sustainable community development in Bellevue-La-Montagne, a small community near Port-au-Prince. She prioritized the rebuilding process by the following “levers of transformation:”

  1. Education (for all)
  2. Place identity, networks and research
  3. Social entrepreneurship and social innovation
  4. State-society trust and accountability

Engle worked extensively with community leaders to develop educational programs concerning social entrepreneurship, healthcare, environmental stewardship, community agriculture, planning and construction. As a result, the community has made significant progress in its infrastructural recovery and social equity. Engle believes her framework could be effective on a nationwide scale.

The Days for Girls (DfG) International program teaches Haitian seamstresses to produce DfG hygiene kits for distribution to women across Haiti. Each kit contains valuable information concerning female hygiene as well as safe, clean female hygiene products. During the two-month trial program, 90 percent of participants agreed the kits were easy to use and clean.

The Haitian Health Foundation’s (HHF) GenNext program combines a youth soccer league with “female sexual reproduction health” classes taught by nurse educators. The league is for girls only, as well as the classes. A three-year study of league participants compared to peers not in the soccer league showed significantly fewer pregnancies for league participants.

These programs and others continue to educate a generation of Haitian women eager to propel their
nation from poverty and hardship. As these efforts and more continue, girls’ education in Haiti is sure to only improve over the coming years.

– Charles Metz
Photo: Flickr

Nigeria
Like in many developing nations, the fight for girls’ education in Nigeria has been an ongoing battle against poverty, the costs of schooling and long-held notions of the unimportance of educating girls. To understand the progress that has been made and the struggles that persist in Nigeria, here’s what you need to know:

Five Facts About Girls’ Education in Nigeria

  1. Enrollment and Completion of Primary School Improving. Although Nigeria continues to face struggles getting its young females to enter and remain in school, the nation has made considerable progress in recent years. According to the World Bank’s Education Data, the number of girls enrolled in primary school increased from 79 percent to 92.3 percent between 2008 and 2013. Enrollment of boys likewise rose, from 89 to 95.2 percent, continuing to remain slightly higher than that of girls. In addition, rates of primary school completion are also on the rise. In 2008, 64.1 percent of girls (while, by comparison, 75.3 percent of boys) completed primary school; in 2010, those numbers had risen to 68.9 and 78.4 percent, respectively. Despite progress, there is still considerable room for improving girls’ education in Nigeria — especially regarding school retention. In fact, a significant portion of girls enrolled in primary school are not completing it.
  2. Financing Education. Officially, education is free and mandatory for all children in Nigeria, both boys and girls, between the ages of six and 15. That being said, Adamu Hussaini, Nigeria’s Secretary of Education, said in 2017 that an estimated 10.5 million kids were either not enrolled in or not regularly attending school. Many schools, especially rural ones, continue to charge unofficial school fees. The reasons for not attending school for girls range from ideological beliefs about the unimportance of education for females to being unable to afford the unofficial school fees. Beliefs persist that girls’ education in Nigeria is unimportant. Many who are willing to pay school fees for their sons would rather keep their daughters at home and working. However, eliminating these unofficial fees can be one of the easiest ways to increase female enrollment and attendance. Groups like the Global Partnership for Education and the Peace Corps offer scholarships, paying the school fees for a girl whose parents promise to let her complete her mandated 10 years of education.
  3. The Role of Mentorship. The importance of mentorship and having female role models should not be underestimated. As more women pursue higher education and enter careers, younger girls will have role models to show them that higher education is attainable for females. Also, these role models will demonstrate that pursuing education opens doors to opportunities otherwise forever unavailable to girls. Many schools in Nigeria hoping to increase female attendance have begun peer mentorship programs in which older girls connect with younger ones, giving the former an immediate sense of meaning for their education (helping younger kids) and the latter both academic and social role models to hopefully encourage them to keep coming to school.
  4. Women at Nigeria’s Universities. Increased participation of women in the education sector is also visible at the university level — when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, only 7.7 percent of Nigeria’s college students were female. By 2001, that number had skyrocketed to 41.7 percent and it continues to rise. In 2009, 45 percent of all university students in Nigeria were female.
  5. Societal Benefits of Educating Women. Levels of female education correlate directly with improved health and an overall increased quality of life. Educated women are more likely to seek proper medical care both for themselves — especially maternal care — and their children. Likewise, higher rates of female education correspond with lower HIV and STD rates. Women also are less likely to get married or give birth as teenagers if pursuing an education. The benefits of extending education to women reach not only those specific women, but society as a whole. Many experts agree that focusing on women’s education is one of the best investments a developing nation can make, for female education rates are directly correlated with national economic growth. Educated women are more likely to hold stable jobs, less likely to be in poverty, and more likely to contribute to the overall economy.

Strides Since Independence

Girls’ education in Nigeria has made tremendous strides during the 60 years since Nigeria gained independence. More girls than ever are attending and completing primary school as well as pursuing higher education. But the fight for education equity in Nigeria is not over.

By continuing to advocate for the importance of girls’ education, encourage older educated women to act as role models for younger generations and help finance girls’ education, Nigeria can and will reap the benefits associated with girls’ education.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Egypt
Education is key to the empowerment of women, and everyone should be able to access it. Egypt is one country that shows that it believes in that statement. There has been excellent progress towards closing the gender gap when it comes to boys’ and girls’ education in Egypt.

Egypt has the largest education system in Africa and it has grown exponentially since the 1990s. In 2012, about 95 percent of children between the ages of six and 18 were enrolled in school. This is a significant difference from another African country, South Africa. In the same year, South Africa had an enrollment rate of around 65 percent for boys and girls of the same age group.

Increased Spending Results in Increased Equality

The government of Egypt has shown more interest in the education system in the past few years and has worked to improve the system, especially for women and girls. Significantly more government funding has been used over the past decades to increase the accessibility of girls’ education in Egypt. A total of 11.1 percent was spent on education in the 2016/17 fiscal year and was projected to rise by nearly 5 percent the following year.

Over the past 20 years, girls’ enrollment in school has risen greatly. According to Egypt Demographic and Health Surveys, as of 2014, 92 percent of girls living in urban areas were attending primary school and 71 percent of girls were attending secondary school. These rates are very similar to the percentage of boys enrolled in the same age groups. This is a significant change because in the past, girls were not given nearly the same opportunity to achieve an education as boys.

While access has generally improved for girls’ education in Egypt, inequalities remain widespread. Girls’ school enrollment has risen significantly over the past few decades, but the problem that remains is the dropout rate. About 71 percent of men completed schooling up to the secondary level, while only 68 percent of girls completed the same grades. This is in part due to the rates of poverty in many areas of Egypt. Another issue with girls’ education is that families with multiple children often send only the boys to school because that is all the family can afford. Girls who stay at home have lower literacy and completion rates.

Local and International Groups Target Girls’ Education in Egypt

In 2001, the National Council on Childhood and Motherhood began a program called the Girls’ Education Initiative. The program was created to address the need for girls’ education in Egypt, especially in its poorest areas. The project urges communities to come together and buy into the project by donating land and volunteering to work in schools. This is a way to bring communities together for a cause they can all support and relate to.

The United States Agency for International Development, along with the government of Egypt, encourage access to education for girls starting at the primary level. In secondary education, USAID very much supports girls’ participation in STEM education. In addition, the government of Egypt, along with other programs and agencies, is working tirelessly to ensure that someday every child, boy or girl, will have access to the same education and the same opportunities.

Together, these groups have shown over the past several decades that they have been able to improve the quality of education for girls and will not stop until every girl can hold up her diploma with pride. There are many other countries struggling to close the education inequality gap and Egypt is a prime example that has shown that it can be done.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in El Salvador
Despite past cultural demands, girls’ education in El Salvador now equals that of their male counterparts with the support of hard-working mothers and USAID’s commitments under the Alliance for Prosperity Plan.

Cultural Shifts Improving Girls’ Education in El Salvador

For many years, women in El Salvador have been relegated to domestic roles. Young girls were often pulled out of school to assist with household tasks while boys continued on, pursuing an education that was more culturally valued. However, women are becoming increasingly more educated. Each generation of girls stays in school longer than their mothers, often because of their mother’s commitment to providing them with an education. Overwhelmingly, women express a desire for their daughters to have as much schooling as possible. This shift is evidence of changing cultural values, moving away from traditional gender roles to a climate that allows women to pursue things outside of domestic life.

According to an October 2015 study conducted by UNICEF, girls are actually more likely to finish primary school, with 86 percent of girls finishing as compared to 81 percent of boys. Additionally, 31,000 boys of primary school age do not attend school in contrast with 27,000 girls, a clear flip from the typical gender norms that once opposed girls’ education in El Salvador. Furthermore, the gross enrollment rate for secondary schools is 71 percent for girls and 70 percent for boys. Girls’ education in El Salvador is rising to a level that usurps their male equivalents.

This upswing is partially due to the Law of Equality, Fairness and the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women passed in March 2011 at the urging of many women’s rights groups. The bill addressed El Salvador’s need to provide equitable education for girls, as well as the gender wage gap.

Challenges Remain for All El Salvadorian Children

Fabiola Rivas, an El Salvadorian native currently attending university in the United States, told The Borgen Project that the major challenges to improving education in El Salvador are not related to gender. “Good opportunities for education in El Salvador really depend on the family’s income. The problem with El Salvador’s education is that public schools do not provide good quality education. Regardless if you are a boy or a girl, the amount of information you are being taught and the quality of it is not good enough to go to college.”

Rivas acknowledges that her educational path is an uncommon one, having been able to attend a private school in El Salvador before obtaining a full scholarship in the United States. In fact, the majority of youth in El Salvador, male and female alike, do not attend school past sixth grade. At the transition to middle school, half of students drop out, and then another half of the remaining students drop out at the start of high school. Unlike the American education system, which is organized, typically good quality, and free, good schools in El Salvador are too expensive for the average citizen to afford.

USAID Programs Focus on Most Vulnerable Populations

In advocating for the goals of the Alliance for Prosperity Plan and the U.S. Strategy of Engagement in Central America, USAID has implemented programs in El Salvador to combat these startling dropout numbers. USAID programs concentrate on developing high-quality education and trade skills programs in areas of low economic efficiency with the hope of creating a more competitive workforce to spur on fiscal growth. This, coupled with USAID’s efforts to offer advanced certification courses for teachers, continues to increase the quality of education in El Salvador.

These programs also focus on keeping children in school and out of gangs, which typically recruit students that are vulnerable to dropping out. Currently, El Salvador has astonishingly high rates of crime and gang violence. The longer kids can be motivated to stay in school, the more likely it is that these rates can and will be diminished.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former school teacher and the current president of El Salvador, promised in his inaugural address in 2014 that education would be one of the top priorities of his administration. Although girls’ education in El Salvador encountered many gender-biased problems in the past, today all the children of El Salvador, regardless of gender, must face the same issues.

– Sarah Dean

Photo: Flickr

women’s rights in the Middle East
When discussing women’s rights and equalities in the world, many people will point towards the Middle East as a place behind in the fight.
However, while the fight for equality is nowhere near finished in the region, there have been multitudes of improvements via acts and laws that better protect women.

Unfortunately, much of the world seems to forget about these developments and sees the region as still behind, even with hundreds of people currently fight to increase their rights. As misconception runs rampant, it’s more important than ever to highlight the progress made for women’s rights in the Middle East, and to see that such hard work accomplished by many passionate and brave women.

Tunisia

One law passed just last year in 2017 was the “Law on Eliminating Violence Against Women” in Tunisia. The law abolished the clause that allowed rapists to escape punishments if they married their victims. With Tunisia having one of the highest domestic violence rates in the world — 47 percent of women experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetimes — this was a huge win for the country.

Along with this, Tunisia passed a law later in the year to allow Muslim women to marry men belonging to any faith. Before, Muslim women in the country were not allowed to marry non-Muslim men unless the men converted their faith. These are just some of the progress made for women’s rights in the Middle East.

Jordan

In line with Tunisia, Jordan also called to repel their “Marry the Victim” laws, which also allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims. While the law still needs to go through parliament, the talk of repelling it in court last year lead to thunderous cheers from the spectator’s gallery — an action that illustrates how bringing the issue to attention was a large and important step in the right direction.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has also made progress in women’s rights in the Middle East. In 2017, the country announced that women would be allowed to have physical education in state schools; in addition, the ban on women not being able to drive will be lifted summer of 2018.

While these laws are huge steps in gender equality, there still lies deeply rooted stigma against women.

Saudi Arabia promised to abolish laws regarding its male guardianship system, where state agencies are prohibited from requiring male guardian permission from women (if not required). However, many employers still still ask for these permission slips before hiring women, even when such actions are unnecessary. Along with this, women still need male guardian permission when applying for higher education, marriage and traveling abroad.

Progress With Room to Grow

From equal marriage laws, to protecting sexual assault and domestic abuse victims and overall freedom for women, these laws can play a huge part in ensuring more equality for women in the Middle East.

While work is not finished and women are still persecuted, arrested, harassed and murdered, the women of the Middle East are fighting together to create change. Just like the countless women walking together hand-in-hand across the world, all of these changes will come together to create a stronger and safer world for women.

– Marissa Wandzel
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Kenya
In 2003, Kenya first introduced what is known as free primary education. Since then, primary school enrolment rates have increased as much as 84 percent in some regions; a great improvement for the country as a whole. However, the reality is that barriers remain in Kenya that reinforce male privilege. A lack of girls’ education in Kenya is one of these barriers.

Low School Enrollment for Girls

In regions that experience high poverty rates and low levels of gender equality, as little as 19 percent of the girls in the region are enrolled in local primary schools. In others, as few as one in 15 girls are enrolled in primary school. There is an obvious gender gap when it comes to girls’ education in Kenya.

Although primary education may now be free in Kenya, families are still responsible for providing the children with the necessary equipment to attend these primary schools. Often, families must prioritize the education costs of their children and make the difficult decision to send the child thought to have the best possibility of future success and keep the other, or others, home.

In rural Kenya, one in two girls is married by age 19. The legal marriage age is 16. The percentage of girls getting married below the age of 18 is 30.5 percent.

One father describes his decision not to enroll his daughter in primary school: he says he was “trying to be practical by keeping [her] home” he “never thought of education as a right” and instead focused on her future marriage. This belief and thought process is not uncommon in Kenya. Most often, the result is sending the boy to school and keeping the girl home.

A Need to Challenge the Traditions

The good news is, this thought process and belief can be changed. It is evident that laws and policy do not impact enrollment rates for girls in Kenya, so what is left? What is needed is an engagement and challenge of the traditions and culture in Kenya, specifically rural Kenya.

Traditions have a large influence on education barriers for young girls. Poverty, ignorance and male preference factor in to disadvantage young girls and their educational track.

While it is rare enough for girls to attend primary school, transitioning to secondary school or universities is almost unheard of. In Trans Mara West, 2.4 percent of the female population attends university. Even more shocking, just 1 percent of girls are enrolled in university in Narok North.

Girls’ education has been proven to be one of the most beneficial strategies to enhance development and economic growth. Educated mothers tend to have healthier children and that these children are also more likely to attend school, breaking the cycle of illiteracy and poverty.

Foreign aid and governmental efforts must now be allocated towards changing beliefs and traditions surrounding girls’ education in Kenya in an effort to increase primary school and university enrollment rates.

– Haley Hine
Photo: Flickr

South SudanSouth Sudan has been in conflict since 2013 and violent stories are ubiquitous for women as a civil war continues to ravage the country. Rape has become “just a normal thing,” according to one South Sudanese woman, and abuse from both rebel groups and government forces are the norm. The war has displaced two million people and the country is close to another famine. Fortunately, the urgent need of help for women in Sudan is apparent as several organizations have stepped in to assist.

Women for Women International

Through its year-long programs, Women for Women International has served more than 15,000 women in South Sudan. At least 80 percent of the country’s population lives on less than $1 a day, however, upon graduation of this program, these women report average personal earnings of $1.29, compared to just $0.12 at enrollment.

They also develop better health and well-being. One in seven women die during childbirth but, after the program, 98 percent of participants begin practicing family planning. Whereas only two percent reported family planning before enrollment. Planning also leads to a more equitable marriage. Ninety-six percent of participants begin participating in household financial decisions. That percentage sat at just five percent before the program.

The biggest hurdle they have overcome is that the women now connect. Eighty-three percent of women in the program report sharing information about their rights with others. These women “create and connect to networks for support and advocacy.” It was zero percent before the program.

The International Rescue Committee

Another major support organization for women in South Sudan is the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC has been one of the largest providers of support in southern Sudan, sourcing aid for over 20 years and throughout decades of war. They have an action plan that strategizes and prioritizes its programs and focus areas through 2020.

The action plan includes:

  • Expanding the capacity of clinics and training health workers to provide better reproductive and basic health care.
  • Providing legal, medical and psychosocial support for sexual violence survivors.
  • Restoring wells and providing sanitation services to prevent disease.
  • Training community and governmental leaders on the importance of human rights.
  • Provide returning refugees with aid and job training.

Five Talents

Perhaps the biggest impact for women in South Sudan is Five Talents. Since it started in 2007, Five Talents has become one of the few organizations that have developed a sustainable model for microfinance. For the past ten years, the program has created opportunity in “areas of desperate need” working with hundreds of communities across the country. The program’s unique approach has “provided a foundation for sustainable business development in even the most difficult contexts.” The program begins by gathering both men and women in South Sudan together in local churches and teaching them to read and right and then offers financial training. To date, over 16,000 women have learned to read and write, three banks have been established and roughly 30,000 have joined community savings groups.

The training program consists of:

  • Adult education and literacy
  • Social capital development
  • Business development training
  • Household budgeting and saving
  • Biblical values in the marketplace

Since the creation of Five Talents, “tens of thousands of lives have been transformed,” both men and women.

In December 2013, the United Nations Security Council, to further help the cause, authorized the deployment of approximately 6,000 security forces, in addition to the 7,600 peacekeepers already in the country to aid in nation-building efforts in South Sudan. However, as the nation’s women continue to face desperation, the Security Council voted to shift the mission’s mandate from nation-building to civilian protection in May 2014. The road to peace and civility may be a long one for women in South Sudan, but as they and the world refuse to sit idly by, these women will prevail.

– Aaron Stein

Photo: Flickr

girls' education in India
Education is a necessary component for the growth of a nation and educating girls still continues to be a problem in most developing countries. India has made quite considerable progress with an overall increase in literacy rates from 64.8 percent in 2001 to 74.04 percent in 2011, but girls’ education in India still requires improvement in a number of ways.

The Current Situation in India

The literacy rate of women, according to 2011 census, is 64.46 percent while the male literacy rate is 82.14 percent. The top states that have the largest number of literate women in India are Kerala (92 percent), Mizoram (89.4 percent), Lakshadweep (88.2 percent), Tripura (83.1 percent) and Goa (82 percent). At the same time, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have the largest number of women entrepreneurs in the nation.

The states that include the lowest female literacy numbers are Rajasthan (52.66 percent), followed by Bihar (53.33 percent), Jharkhand (56.21 percent) and Jammu and Kashmir (58.01 percent). Though there has been a substantial increase in the number of literate women in the past few years, the number still falls low for the entire nation.

How This Situation Arose

One of the main reasons for the lack of girls’ education in India is the male-dominated society. Even though the country is making progress, the belief that women belong in the home is still widely held.

Gender inequality is a very serious issue in the Asian nation, which is why 10 million female babies have been aborted over the past 20 years. A son’s education is given more importance because it is thought that daughters will eventually get married and live with their husband, so many believe that a girl’s education is not of much help directly to her family.

Addressing Girls’ Education in India

The government has taken numerous strategies to improve girls’ education in India:

  1. Beti bachao, beti padhao (Save daughters, educate daughters) was conceived in 2015, which addresses the issue of the declining Child Sex Ratio (number of females per thousand males aged zero to six) across the country. It is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resources. This strategy works to stop female foeticide, increase the number of girls attending schools, decrease school dropouts, implement rules regarding the right to education and increase the construction of toilets for girls.
  2. Progress has been made in the northwestern part of India, especially in Rajasthan. New literacy efforts have been made to boost the number of girls attending school and a summer coding camp aims to introduce computers to girls.Michael Daube, an American artist and founder of a New York-based nonprofit, is raising money for an all girls’ school. Furthermore, Manhattan Architect Diana Kellogg is building an exhibition hall where female artists can display and sell their products, thus increasing employment.
  3. Jharkhand has taken a big initiative toward female education upliftment. The Jharkhand School of Education has decided on distributing free textbooks, uniforms and notebooks to all girl students from grades nine through 12.
  4. Gurgaon, located in the Indian state of Haryana, aims to provide free education to girls in grades nine through 12.
  5. The Uttar Pradesh government plans to provide a monetary incentive of 30,000 rupees to female students who have an outstanding performance in intermediate or equivalent state examinations.
  6. UNICEF is also working with the Indian government to provide quality education for all girls. As a result, Bihar has now made girls’ education a priority. A new program has been initiated in Bihar which includes education for daughters and thousands of girls are now attending school.

The situation in India may seem daunting but it is steadily progressing with time. With hope, in the coming years, girls’ education in India will achieve new heights.

 – Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Sri LankaGirls’ education in Sri Lanka has significantly improved over the last two decades. Boys and girls have equal enrollment in primary schools, and girls outnumber boys in secondary schools. Additionally, in 2011 girls consistently scored higher than boys in key subjects in the National Assessments of Learning Outcomes.

The Successes of Girls’ Education in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the only South Asian country that has already achieved the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal for gender equality at all levels of education. This is a great achievement for the small island nation, and it can be used as a model for other countries.

These achievements have been possible because the government has been committed to ensuring gender equality and improving girls’ education in Sri Lanka. In 1945, the government introduced free primary, secondary and university education for all children, regardless of gender. Additionally, the constitution provides for equal rights irrespective of sex and forms of affirmative action to ensure equality for women.

Continued Work Towards Complete Gender Equality

However, Sri Lanka does still have things to work on. While girls in the nation have access to the same education as boys and tend to do better than them in school, the statistics for adults do not quite mirror these trends. Women’s adult literacy is lower than that of men and the unemployment rate for women is two times higher than the rate for men.

This has been the case for the last three decades, indicating that while women have been given the same access to education, that education is not translating into equal employment later on in life. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the government to ensure that girls’ access to education is really benefiting them in the long run.

NGOs Focus on Education

Of course, the Sri Lankan government does not have to face these challenges alone. There are numerous nonprofit organizations, such as the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank, that have partnered with the government to implement projects regarding gender equality and education. Additionally, there are a variety of independent organizations that focus on education in the nation.

Room to Read is one such organization that runs literacy and girls’ education programs in Sri Lanka, but there are also many others. The Sri Lankan government can utilize these resources and work with them to create equal opportunities for men and women both during and after their attendance at educational institutions.

Ultimately, girls’ education in Sri Lanka has been on the right track for many years. The country has shown a commitment to providing equal access to education regardless of gender, and this is a very commendable effort. While these accomplishments should not be forgotten, the government also needs to be aware of other issues of gender inequality, such as unequal employment and disparities in adult literacy. These are concerns that should be addressed through the development of new policies and collaboration with NGOs that work in the region.

– Liyanga De Silva
Photo: Flickr