girls' education in Mali
In 2011, the U.N. reported Mali as an arduous place for girls to get an education – and it hasn’t improved. Mali is ranked sixth on the list of worst countries for girls to obtain an education. Historically, education has never been of high priority in Mali, so it’s no surprise that Malian girls are still fighting to be liberated through education. How can the world address girls’ education in Mali?

More than 130 million girls around the world are out of school. Most of them are in poor countries like Mali, where the achievement rate for education is 54 percent for boys and 44.8 percent for girls. Due to factors like gender inequality, boys in Mali complete school at a faster rate than girls and tend to be more literate.

The Role of a Girl

By age 14, young Malian girls are expected to marry, forcing them to leave school. Prior to marriage, younger girls are late to school or fail to appear at all due to expectations in the home like cleaning, cooking and caring for family members. In a study on girls access to education in 122 countries, it was reported that only 38 percent of Malian girls had completed primary school. Subsequently, the dropout rate for Malian girls is more than 50 percent, leaving a small 22.2 percent with the ability to read.

The CARE organization, whose goal is to end poverty, has stepped out as a leader for empowering women and girls. CARE Mali understands that forced marriages diminish the chances of successful girls’ education in Mali. They’re using financial efforts to target child marriage and gender-based violence — disparities that hinder Malian girls from being fully educated — to put women in the workforce. More women working helps stabilize the Malian economy and helps young girls focus on education rather than marrying young and tending to other adults in the home.

Because I Am A Girl

Plan International established the Because I Am A Girl movement to help empower young girls with barriers to education through a four-part initiative:

  1. Learn – Access to a safe, quality education
  2. Lead – Involvement in sociopolitical conversations
  3. Decide – Have a voice on when to marry
  4. Thrive – Choose a path free of inequality and violence

Hope for Girls’ Education in Mali

Of the Malian population, 49.97 percent are female and nearly half of them can’t read and don’t have continual access to education. But things are changing for girls’ education in Mali, with help. The U.N. Girls Education Initiative established a scholarship for girls in northern Mali to encourage them to remain in school. World Education works with local parent and mother associations to encourage the breaking away from traditional norms, which allows their young girls to focus on getting an education instead.

Although progress is underway in Mali, continual efforts must be made by organizations and governments to address access to girls’ education in Mali.

– Naomi C. Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

global partnership for education
On June 26, 2014, government representatives from all over the world will meet in Brussels for the Global Partnership for Education conference. At this time, representatives will pledge to support education for all through government funding. This commitment is especially important to countries in Africa where approximately 80 percent of women do not complete primary education.

The world is currently one year away from the original goal of having all children, worldwide, receive an education by 2015. At the rate things are going, females in the poorest parts of Africa may not have access to suitable, effective education until the year 2086. However, the upcoming conference in Brussels could change that statistic.

Representatives from 60 developing countries, including the African countries that recently saw the effects of Day of the Child, will be present. On June 16, exactly 10 days before the pledging conference in Brussels, thousands of African children participated in the Day of the Child. The children demonstrated their desire for increased funding for education in African countries’ national budgets.

Recognizing the importance of this conference, Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign has come out with the 10 Days to Act initiative. During the 10 days in between the Day of the Child and the conference, anyone can go online to pledge support for the cause, share the campaign’s documentary on social media sites or write to the government, urging leaders to support funding for female education.

Following the first of the 10 days, the online petition to support global education has over 28,000 signatures.

Supporters label any post on social media sites as #10daystoact to show their support for the campaign. Posts currently sporting the label include a series of “selfies” on Twitter, videos on YouTube and visuals from Plan International.

These 10 days are critical for the future of female education in Africa. Thirty million girls in Africa cannot take advantage of the essential human right to education.

Aside from empowering women academically, investing in female education helps a country as a whole. Getting these 30 million girls in schools with proper learning materials has the potential to increase African countries’ GDPs by $1 billion every year.

Generating support and awareness during the 10 days in between the Day of the Child and the Global Partnership for Education could influence years of progress in the fight for female education. As one of Plan International’s visuals clearly states, “You have 10 days to get your governments to care.”

— Emily Walthouse

Sources: CNN World, Plan International, Global Citizen
Photo: OpenEqualFree