Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Mongolia
Mongolia is run by a multi-party democratic government that has made major strides in social accomplishments since the transition from a single party government.

After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolia needed to regulate its economy since the Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc were Mongolia’s only trading partners.

With both partners inaccessible after 1991, international financial organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund advised Mongolia to transition from a planned to a market economy.

This resulted in the privatization of the country’s assets, elimination of government subsidies, reductions in government and a balanced budget.

These dramatic events heavily influenced the education of women and their position in the labor industry.

The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mongolia will highlight the benefits, struggles and social situations girls in Mongolia face when it comes to their education.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Mongolia

  1. Since 2002, rates of female unemployment and poverty have increased despite the economic growth of the country. The percentage of women living in absolute poverty remains above 30 percent.
  2. Thousands of women lost their jobs after the Mongolian economy transitioned from a planned to a market one. The percent of the female labor force is estimated to be at 5.7, a 0.7 percent difference from the world’s average of 5.0 percent.
  3. The dominant attitude toward women in the country is that they are primarily responsible for housework and children. The Time Use survey from 2007 showed that almost 70 percent of housework is run by women, equivalent to 5.6 hours per day in comparison to 2.7 hours for men. In low-income families, income generated by males is usually used to pay for the girls’ education. The social idea that men are considered physically stronger to survive heavy physical work such as mining, herding and construction result in parents more inclined to enroll their daughters in higher education. The traditional practice of making the youngest son heir to family property may also be another reason for parents desiring to keep their boys at home.
  4. The collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a “reverse gender gap”. More women are in higher education than men because many Mongolian families began sending their daughters to school and university in the capital of Mongolia. Many parents believe that their daughters will take better care of them in their old age. Others believe women need to learn other skills than herding livestock and housework.
  5. The literacy rate for females that are 15-24 years old is at 97.3 percent, which is higher than for males of the same age that are at 94.1 percent. The net attendance ratio for secondary school participation from 2008-20012 is at 95.2 percent for females, compared to males who stand at 90.7 percent.
  6. Despite the fact that Mongolian women are better educated than their male peers, statistics show that they are less likely to make use of this education. According to a study launched in the Mongolia capital, Ulaanbaatar, the gender gap in labor force participation has more than doubled in the last two decades, exceeding 12.6 percent in 2018.
  7. In poor households, women work longer hours than men because families are beginning to depend more on subsistence production, which is deemed the female’s job in Mongolia. Many women are urged to stay home rather than pursue alternative economic opportunities, compromising their health and education. The shift to a free market economy has led to a persistent wage gap, inefficient investments in education, and loss of contributions for women to improve in economic growth.
  8. Employed women earn less than 12.5 percent per month than men on average. According to the National Statistics Office and World Development Indicators, men are 10 percent more likely to participate in the labor force at 68 percent compared to women at 58 percent.
  9. The Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation established a university scholarship program for Mongolian women in the summer of 2010. The program was supported by the Asia Foundation and its local partner, the Zorig Foundation. The competitive program selects 60 girls from low-income families to attend the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Many women decide to enroll in science fields, increasing the representation in the advancement of technology and innovation.
  10. The World Bank suggests that gender gaps can be reduced by improving the legal and regulatory environment that tackles gender-specific constraints. Specifically, enforcing anti-discrimination policies, monitoring gender indicator and upgrading eldercare and childcare services will encourage more women to hold more secure, entrepreneurship jobs. Long-term measures to decrease the gender norms and discriminations among employers and providing access to finance and training will allow women entrepreneurs to realize the full potential of their businesses.

Mongolia is addressing the challenges that face women in education. Reducing the school dropout rates, especially in rural areas, improving the coverage and quality of preschool education, and upgrading the teaching quality are some ways Mongolia is working to achieve universal primary education of 100 percent.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mongolia highlight the gender disparities between women and men in education.

In order for Mongolia to efficiently address the issues women face in the labor, economic and entrepreneur industry, as well as unemployment, the obstacles women are facing in the education system must be corrected and revised.

– Aria Ma

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Mongolia
From a single party rule to a multi-party democracy, Mongolia has sought to accommodate more of its people’s demands, particularly in the advancement of girls’ education.

In 2000, the average time spent by girls in school was 9.4 years, but by 2010, it had increased to 14.6 years. The government’s effort in funding the development of more rural classrooms and educational resources has been inspired by the hope of reducing the high rate of teen pregnancies, as about a third of the population lives in rural areas that lack access to reproductive healthcare and education.

Improving Girls’ Education in Mongolia to Spur Economic Growth

As with decreasing global poverty, decreasing discrimination against women is also an investment in accelerating economic growth. The United Nations Development Programme, along with its U.N. partners, has worked towards closing gender disparities, such as in primary education. Approximately a third of Mongolia’s labor force consists of livestock herders, but higher access to education has increased young girls’ opportunities to seek jobs in other sectors.

These efforts have been fruitful: the number of women working in non-agricultural sectors has increased from 35 percent in 1990 to 41 percent today. As reported in 2014 by the World Bank, women own or partially own almost 40 percent of Mongolian firms.

 The State of Progress in Girls’ Education  in Mongolian

Although Mongolia can now boast of its position at 53 out of 159 countries in gender inequality globally, the gender disparities in the workforce still run particularly deep, as exhibited through women’s limited access to economic opportunities, unequal salaries, and their higher rate of inclination towards unreliable, informal work away from entrepreneurial sectors. The full benefits of the progress made in girls’ education in Mongolia have been limited by such inequalities.

To maximize the advantages of increasing girls’ education in Mongolia, other factors that commonly require a woman’s time and attention should be considered. Females are traditionally assigned the role of nurturing family; therefore, increasing construction of more eldercare and childcare facilities would provide more girls the chance to prioritize their education or job. More access to early-childhood education will also yield the same empowering effect for women, especially those living in rural towns.

Teenage fertility is especially high in Mongolia, at 40.4 childbirths for every 1000 girls between the ages of 15 to 19. Unwanted pregnancies are also relatively high in this age range as 14.1 percent of pregnant girls have abortions. These factors, left often unattended, limit the educational opportunities that girls can now seek.

Location also plays a huge role in determining the level of access to education for young girls. About 55 percent of students achieve secondary education, but this holds true for only 45 percent of students in rural areas. Children from rural areas must often confront inhibitions to accessing education, such as seasonal challenges and poor infrastructure.

Support of Girls’ Educational Opportunities in the Sciences

In 2010 the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation, partnered with The Asian Foundation and the Zorig Foundation, introduced a university scholarship program for Mongolian girls that would pay for four years at the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology for 60 girls from low-income families. This program is geared towards providing girls with opportunities in the sciences since Mongolian girls are largely underrepresented in those fields.

Even though more than 60 percent of university students are female, there remains a large discrepancy in the number of men and women in the sectors related to science and technology. By focusing on improving education for girls in this subject, Mongolia is expanding its labor force to fields beyond agriculture, which has consistently faced major setbacks due to natural disasters.

In 2010, Mongolia suffered a dzud, which is a national disaster of a drought in the summer followed by a severe winter, and lost almost 20 percent of the nation’s herds. One-third of Mongolia, whose livelihoods rely on herding, could no longer afford university tuition for their children, so this scholarship program would succeed in providing an education for specifically poor, rural girls.

The country is currently focused on its development through its minerals sector. Major infrastructure projects in developing mines are underway, and skilled workers are in high demand. Investing in girls’ education, so that more girls may access a job in this sector, is also an investment in Mongolia’s economic development as the country gravitates towards a more stable means of income.

By accounting for these factors in improving gender parity, developments in areas such as location and rethinking traditional gender norms and attitudes, Mongolia can improve education for girls and yield more long-term sustainable change. As women are more likely to pursue tertiary education, Mongolia will only benefit from addressing these different factors in helping women achieve educational success, and subsequently, inclusion in sectors significant to Mongolia’s economic prosperity. The butterfly effect of these developments in empowering women will continue to ripple throughout Mongolia’s poverty-reducing progress.

– Alice Lieu
Photo: Flickr