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Five Ways to Fight Gender InequalityThe struggle to attain global gender equality has been a centuries-long battle. Although the world has significantly progressed in women’s advancement and its goal of gender equality, women and girls disproportionately suffer from discrimination and violence. These injustices do, however, have a chance to be corrected through these five ways to fight gender inequality.

Five Ways to Fight Gender Inequality

    1. Give girls access to education.
      There are 130 million girls in the world who are not in school. Although there has been a significant boost in girls’ enrollment in schools, there is still much progress to be made. Girls are more likely than boys to never receive an education. There are 15 million girls in the world of primary-school age who will never enter a classroom, compared to about 10 million boys. Although there are countless boys and girls worldwide who face barriers when trying to receive an education, there are several specific forms of discrimination that only affect girls. These include forced marriages at a young age, gender-based violence in school settings and certain cultural or religious norms that restrict girls’ access to education.

      Education is an extremely valuable resource for girls. According to the World Bank, better-educated women tend to be healthier, participate in formal labor markets, earn higher incomes and marry at a later age. By receiving an education, girls can develop fundamental skills and gain invaluable knowledge that allows them to thrive in their careers and simply make decisions that will improve their lives.

      The Borgen Project is currently building support for the Keeping Girls in School Act (H.R.2153/ S.1071) which requires the Department of State and USAID to review and update the U.S. global strategy to empower adolescent girls. Click here to ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Keeping Girls in School Act: Email Congress

    2. Give women platforms to be in power and achieve economic success.
      Globally, women have less political representation than men. Around the world, 62 percent of countries have never had a female head of government or state for at least one year in the past half-century, including the United States. The number of women in political positions compared to men is alarmingly disproportionate. In global legislatures, women are outnumbered four to one. Gender equality in political positions is a rarity as only three countries have 50 percent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses. By having an equal presence of women in politics or leadership positions, the interests and values of females will be better represented on the political level.

      For many women, it is hard to achieve economic success and move up the socioeconomic scale. Throughout the world, women work for long hours of unpaid domestic jobs. In some places, females do not have the right to own land, earn an income and progress their careers due to job discrimination.

      The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act (S.2347) — signed into law in January 2019 — is one initiative that is aimed at removing several of these barriers through a number of policy objectives. One such policy change has to do with expanding support for small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned, managed and controlled by women.

    3. End violence and sexual assault against women.
      An unprecedented number of countries have laws against domestic violence and sexual assault. However, these laws often go ignored, jeopardizing women and girls’ rights to their safety and justice. Every day, 137 women across the world are killed by a family member or intimate partner. This statistic is a disturbing example of the severity of violence toward women.Females are more likely to experience sexual violence than men.

      Approximately 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide have been raped at some point in their lives. Beyond sexual harassment, women and girls are vulnerable to human trafficking as they account for 71 percent of all human trafficking victims. In many cases, females are trafficked as child brides and/or sold as sex slaves. The extent of sexual violence toward women and young girls is an extreme violation of human rights.

    4. Assure girls and women have access to menstrual health facilities.
      Menstrual hygiene management is necessary for girls and young women to attend school and participate in their daily lives, however, this necessity is not always guaranteed. The women most affected by ineffective menstrual care live in poverty. Often, girls will stay home from school when on their periods because they do not have access to sanitary products and/or their schools lack the necessary facilities.

      Dangerous ignorance and societal judgments about menstruation exist worldwide. Some cultures believe a menstruating girl causes harm to everything she touches. For instance, in rural Nepal, girls on their periods are sometimes forced out of their homes, forbidden from being in contact with people, animals and even plants. These girls are forced to stay in “menstrual huts” which can be harmful and potentially fatal. These misleading cultural taboos lead to ostracism, early marriage and the endangerment of girls’ futures. Young women in refugee camps also have a difficult time accessing safe and security sanitary products.

      Fortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act (H.R.615) which “amends current standards of care for refugee women and children to include providing safe and secure access to sanitation facilities, especially for women, girls and vulnerable populations.”

    5. End child marriage.
      In some cultures, it is acceptable if not expected for girls to marry at a young age. Every year, 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 worldwide. Child marriage most affects girls and is mainly fueled by gender inequality and poverty. This practice is a violation of human rights as it prohibits women from making decisions about their own lives. It deprives young girls of a childhood and an education, but it also has other disturbing effects.

      Girls who are forced into marriage may be sexually harassed by their partner and have an increased risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, malaria and death from childbirth. Girls Not Brides is one of the most prominent organizations working to raise awareness on these issues by partnering with more than 1,000 civil societies across the globe.

These five ways to fight gender inequality are crucial to help women and girls around the world reach their full potential and ultimately attain gender equality.

– Marissa Pekular
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Girls' Education in Sudan
Facts about girls’ education in Sudan are startling as females are at a clear disadvantage. Girls in Sudan are more likely to be illiterate than their regional counterparts, which is concerning as the region around the nation is plagued with female educational suppression.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Sudan

  1. According to UNICEF, 49 percent of girls are missing out on primary education. As of 2017, a total of three million children have been left out of Sudan’s education system, half of them being girls.
  2. In general, Sudan has unegalitarian views towards women. Sudan’s legal system is a strict form of Sharia Law, which limits the rights of women in many respects. The nature of such laws has seeped into Sudanese culture, thus affecting the quality and quantity of girls education for the worse. These laws include punishment for not wearing religious garb in public and institutionalized discrimination against women. When the mantra of the government and its laws is anti-women, the educational system will most likely be anti-women as well.
  3. The laws in Sudan regarding education do not guarantee safety against discrimination. Educators can then easily implement their views on who they allow to enroll in schools. Such views are the norm in Sudan, as is the opinion that women should aspire to be a housewife for their ultimate goal. Sudanese culture follows a strict interpretation of Islam and is often a culture that allows female genital mutilation, honor killings and other violations against women. Such an environment would be hard pressed not to extend such discrimination to education.
  4. In Sudan, the enrollment rate for girls in primary school is lower than that of boys, and there is also a significant gap in literacy between boys and girls.
  5. The quality of  teachers is very low in Sudan in comparison to the rest of the world; there may be up to 110,000 unqualified teachers teaching in Sudan, as 48 percent of teachers in Sudan have only completed primary education. On average, children in Sudan experience either no education (as Sudan has one of the highest out-of-school-children rates in the world) or very poor education from unqualified teachers.
  6. A severe lack of female teachers in Sudanese schools often creates a learning environment much more hostile to girls, which can then deter girls enrolling in school. Only 12 percent of South Sudan’s instructors are female, and the data of female education rates across generations show less improvement over time.
  7. The average household in Sudan contains 5.7 people; contrastingly, an United States household holds an average of 2.58 people. The cost of education in Sudan is not direct tuition, but rather similar to western universities and religious schools charge aside from tuition: textbooks, uniforms, exam fees, and even teacher salaries. This is very costly for many families, especially as poverty is extremely high in Sudan — 44.8  percent of the population live below the poverty line, and there is a 17 percent unemployment rate.
  8. The large number of families who struggle with such costs generally have two options: (1) do not send their children to school (which is a partial explanation for why the educational enrollment rate in Sudan is very low) or (2) choose their favorite children to attend school. For the latter option, these favorites are almost unanimously boys which hurts girls educational opportunities.
  9. Given the fact that normal schooling in Sudan is explicitly anti-women, it’s very hard for girls in Sudan to receive an education, and the shortage of out-of-school alternatives really leaves Sudan’s girls in a difficult place.
  10. Fortunately, Sudan is not alone. The Global Partnership for Education Fund heavily funds the Sudanese government so as “to improve the learning environment in targeted areas; to increase the availability of textbooks; and to strengthen education planning and management mechanisms in the Sudan.” In fact, $76 million has gone into a project known as the Basic Education Recovery Project which significantly helps girls education in Sudan.

Steps to Empowerment

These facts about girls’ education in Sudan leave the international community with a daunting task — making change a reality in Sudan. Thankfully, such outcomes are occurring, but help is always needed and desired. Donating to organizations such as The Borgen Project that work to provide international aid is one of the best ways to help make change a reality.

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Flickr

Benefits of EducationAccess to education is an ongoing civil rights struggle. Education is not only the accumulation of knowledge but also a chance for students to go beyond their current limitations. The following is a list of 10 of the most important benefits of education.

10 Major Benefits of Education

  1. Improved Health: In developing countries, students are forced to miss school for about 500 million days per year because of sickness. Furthermore, one of the benefits of education for mothers is increasing the survival of her child; a child is 50 percent more likely to live past five years old, 50 percent more likely to be immunized and twice as likely to attend school than children of uneducated mothers.
  1. Individual Economic Growth: With education comes opportunities to advance in life. One extra year spent at school increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10 percent. There is a positive correlation between literacy rates and high per capita income; education can give someone the chance to increase personal wealth. These benefits of education give people the skillset and knowledge to improve their lives.
  1. National Economic Growth: Educated civilians would also contribute to the economic growth of their entire country. For example, each additional year of schooling raising the average annual GDP growth by 0.37 percent. Also, providing education for children has a greater benefit than initial cost. The cost of 250 million children not attending school and not learning the basics of education is equivalent to a loss of $129 billion per year. Therefore, education not only advances the country’s economy but also saves the country from major losses.
  1. Reduction of Poverty: Poverty is a major reason why people in rural communities are unable to attend school. However, education is extremely important in reducing poverty. For instance, if adults had two more years of schooling, a total of 60 million adults would be able to take advantage of more opportunities and escape poverty. Also, if more children were given secondary education, about 20 million people would be lifted out of poverty. This would mean that the number of impoverished people worldwide would reduce by at least 50 percent.
  1. Gender Equality: Sending daughters to school can be quite expensive for impoverished families, so many choose not to. This leads to women being paid less for their work which prevents them from being able to sustain themselves independently. However, one additional year spent at school can increase a woman’s earnings by 10 to 20 percent.
  1. Reduction of Child Marriage: In rural communities, the value of a male child can be greater than that of a female child. As a result, if a family has to choose between financing the education of their son or their daughter, the son often gets priority while daughters are left to focus on domestic life. This leads to an increase of child marriage. Over 60 percent of uneducated girls marry before the age of 18.
  1. Reduction of Child Mortality: One of the benefits of education is having educated parents as it reduces the probability of child mortality. For example, UNICEF found that babies born to young mothers under 18 years old have a 60 percent increased risk of infant mortality than other babies. In 2008, an estimated 1.8 million children’s lives could have been saved in sub-Saharan Africa if their mothers had secondary education or more.
  1. Self-Dependency: Through education, girls all over the globe are able to build self-reliance and independence through education. Receiving an education allows girls to become empowered women who can fight against poverty. Furthermore, education provides individuals with a promising and secure future for better opportunities and lives. In rural areas, education allows people to overcome poverty by expanding their knowledge and using them to lead better and healthier lives.
  1. Better Community: An educated individual has a greater chance of contributing to the community. Literate people are more likely to participate in the democratic process and exercise their civil rights while uneducated people may turn to crime and violence to sustain themselves. This can lead to an increase of conflict in the community because impoverished people do not see any other way to survive. Thus, an important benefit of education is educated people working together toward a better and safer community.

Places with fewer resources and fewer guarantees of survival are often stuck in an endless cycle of poverty throughout generations. Restricting education can lead to stunted economic growth and unstable social and political conditions. By ensuring that access to education is uncontested to all communities, society can benefit from an educated population.

– Jenny S Park
Photo: Flickr

reusable sanitary padsIt is estimated that one in 10 girls in African countries miss school monthly due to a lack of supplies and education related to menstruation. The negative connotations of “becoming a woman” and the mystery surrounding these changes can not only create girls’ unhealthy perceptions of themselves and their bodies but can affect more concrete aspects of their lives, including their education.

Effects of Lack of Education on Menstruation

Many girls will skip school to avoid the potential embarrassment and shame associated with having one’s period show. Due to its monthly recurrence, many young women are unable to catch up on the material they have missed and will eventually drop out of school altogether.

In Uganda, 70 percent of girls leave school between the ages of 13 and 18. Low enrollment for both genders is common due to a variety of circumstances in many African countries.

However, with menstruation typically beginning around 13 years old and girls’ limited access to sexual health education and supplies, dropout rates increase for young women at a rate 10 percent higher than boys of the same age. Access to reproductive health education and cost effective menstruation supplies such as reusable sanitary pads can be powerful tools in keeping young women in school.

Benefits of Reusable Sanitary Pads

Disposable menstruation supplies are often too expensive for families to afford, forcing many young women to use unsanitary alternatives such as old clothes or to go without sanitary pads altogether. Reusable sanitary pads are a cheap, effective and empowering tool for young African women.

NGOs such as Girls2Women and Mums for Mums have assisted in teaching girls how to sew their own reusable sanitary pads for less than $1 from basic patterns and locally sourced materials that attach easily to undergarments with velcro. The Peace Corp has also been an important player in educating and empowering young women through Girls Leading Our World, or GLOW, camps.

Started in Romania in 1995, GLOW camps have since opened in over 60 countries around the world. Each camp is focused on empowering young women and combating local issues such as malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health, stress tolerance and healthy living through education and training.

Positive Effects of GLOW Camps

In African countries with GLOW camps, learning to make reusable sanitary pads often features in the education of the young women. In countries such as Tanzania and Uganda, the creation of reusable sanitary pads begun by GLOW camp educations has been picked up by local charities and community organizations, helping normalize menstruation for girls and boys in the community alike and ultimately keep more young women in school.  

By making the reusable sanitary pads themselves, girls are able to move forward in their lives with more knowledge and confidence in themselves and their bodies, and menstruation becomes less of an unknown force to be feared. The inclusion of parents, teachers and boys is also valuable to the program’s effectiveness and longevity as well as the confidence and empowerment of the young women.

In Uganda, the charity Mountains of Hope offers educational programs on reproductive health and teen pregnancy and training in making reusable sanitary pads. These include men and boys so as to better educate and support young women of the community.

With this vital education and training in making reusable sanitary pads, as well as other aspects of reproductive health, girls in many African countries are better able to pursue their education without compromising their wellbeing. Organizations such as the Peace Corp, Girls2Women and Mountains of Hope have created opportunities for communities to feel empowered and create change with their young women, giving them the chance to achieve the education all children deserve.

– Anna Lally
Photo: Flickr

girls’ education in Botswana
Botswana, a country in southern Africa, has reached a stable, democratic government with strength in its economic policies and education system. Primary net enrollment rate is about 85 percent with participation between girls and boys averaging an almost equal number. 

However, there are still many barriers to girls education such as sexual violence, orphan and child-headed household, social-cultural issues and early pregnancies. Many initiatives and programs, such as those shown below, are motivated to improve learning outcomes and provide a gender-sensitive environment that will encourage girls to stay in school. 

Free Sanitary Pads as School Supplies

One in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses schools during their period. Others lose 20 percent of their education which makes them more likely to drop out of school. oftentimes, poor academic performance can be attributed to girls missing school when on their monthly menstrual period. 

Botswana’s parliament is improving girls’ education in Botswana through a motion on August 2017 that offers girls in both private and public schools sanitary pads. This will allow the girls who cannot afford their own sanitary pads to continue their education during menstrual periods. It is the first country in Africa and the second country in the world to offer free sanitary products to young women.

Women in STEM 

Up to 40 percent of all orphans in Botswana are 12-17 years old. Many children become caregivers, especially girls, and are forced to have adult responsibilities. As a result, inadequate health care, lack of protection from sexual assault and decreased education all increase.

Stepping Stones International (SSI) is an after-school and community outreach program that serves orphaned and vulnerable adolescents and their caregivers.

SSI is improving girls’ education in Botswana through the implementation of a year-long, day after-school program that includes STEM activities that empower girls to obtain critical thinking skills. The program also hopes to each girls to understand the impact of engineering in a global context. Through aiding youth in developing design process skills and using them in various engineering challenges, the organization helps address the gap in girls’ education and teaches youth how to apply STEM tools to real-life situations. 

Educating Girls on HIV Risks

At 24 percent, Botswana has the third-highest HIV prevalence worldwide among adults. It’s estimated that more than 40 percent of those with HIV are from older males that offer girls gifts and money in exchange for sexual relationships. For each year older a male partner is than the female, the risk of unprotected sex increases by 28 percent.

Young 1ove is a non-governmental organization based in Botswana that scales evidence-based programs in health and education. The group is improving girls’ education in Botswana through its program, “No Sugar,” which teaches girls about the likelihood of attracting HIV from older men.

The course has reaches more that 350,000 students in 350 schools across the country. A study conducted by the organization on pregnancy rates — another risk of unprotected sex — revealed that in schools that taught the course, pregnancy dropped 30 to 40 percent. 

Benefits of Girls’ Education in Botswana

An educated girl is healthier, married later, has healthier children and reinvests in her family and community. Botswana is committed to overcoming the barriers that hinder girls access to education.

The long-term goal of aiding organizations and initiatives is to see an increase in the number of girls who complete secondary school and go on to attend college or begin a career. 

– Anne-Marie Maher
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in BangladeshFor many developing countries, gender inequality is a massive issue, with most biases about women’s “roles” starting at birth. These prejudices affect the economy, sustainability and education. Girls’ education in Bangladesh is severely devalued, creating a limited amount of roles for girls later in life. Since the 1990s, Bangladesh has seen a steady improvement in enrollment, but there is still work to be done to ensure girls and boys alike have equal access to education.

The Quality of Education

UNICEF reports that there has been a rise in enrollment for girls within primary and lower-secondary schools since the 1990s. For boys and girls, this included a 20 percent enrollment and completion rate and a 30 percent enrollment rate specifically for girls. In 2003, the enrollment rate elevated significantly to 84 percent. Still, in secondary (teenage) years, dropout rates tended to heavily increase.

A great deal of this statistic can be attributed to the weak quality of education. When education is of low quality, it causes poor participation and attendance, higher dropout rates and lower standards of achievement. On average, about 1.5 million girls drop out of school or never attend.

According to UNICEF, 10 percent of girls never enroll, 34 percent dropout and 28 percent complete school, but they do not pass or they lack the necessary skills to find a job or go onto higher education. However, 28 percent of girls in Bangladesh complete school with acceptable achievement.

Rise in Madrasas’ Schools

One of the most efficient ways to ensure girls’ education in Bangladesh has been through the implementation of madrasas’ schools. In a madrasas school, children have access to civil and religious education, allowing parents to feel safe in sending their daughters to school without feeling like their religious beliefs are being compromised. With the rise of madrasas school catering to the more religious families and communities, more girls have been able to enroll in school.

The TSER Program

In 2017, The World Bank authorized $510 million in funding to help boost the secondary education system and student performance in Bangladesh. This project is called The Transforming Secondary Education for Results (TSER) Program and is set to assist 13 million students in grades six through 12. The TSER Program will further advance teaching quality and learning while improving access to education, paying special attention to girls and poorer households by providing grants and stipends to increase enrollment for minorities.

In addition, the TSER Program will implement an adolescent program to increase motivation to remain in school. It includes financial inducements for female students in grades nine through 12, while helping girls to feel more included by building women’s bathrooms.

Although there is still quite a bit of work to do in improving girls’ education in Bangladesh, the country is on the right track to successful educational standards. By ensuring girls are educated and not being forced to become a minority or be oppressed, Bangladesh’s future is sure to flourish with equality.

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr

girls’ education in AngolaYoung women in Angola are becoming more empowered than ever due to the nation’s efforts to increase child education. This rise in female independence and enfranchisement is also due to significant efforts to change the nation’s culture regarding gender roles.

Improvements in Girls’ Education in Angola

Primary education is free in nearly every African country, including Angola. This has caused a drastic increase in the number of children enrolled in school, with Angola having one of the highest improvement rates.

Particularly, the number of young girls enrolled in schools has soared to a number that more than doubles the total of 10 years ago. Between the years 2000 and 2011, there was an increase in girls’ education in Angola from 35 percent to 78 percent.

Additionally, the overall literacy rate for girls in Angola from the ages of 15 to 24 rose from 63 percent to 71 percent from 2001 to 2014. The primary school completion rate for girls in Angola has increased from 40 percent in 2011 to 54 percent in 2014.

Improving Gender Issues in Education

One of the ways in which girls’ education in Angola has been able to see such dramatic improvements is through the efforts of the nation to address gender issues in the classroom. This is also done by reaching out to those with authority and influence over families, who can thus help end restrictive ideas about women’s rights.

Since 2002, a total of 20,000 teachers in Angola have taken part in the “Back to School” campaign, a movement supported by UNICEF. This movement aims to train teachers in how to make their classrooms more sensitive to gender-based disparities. Teachers enroll in a five-year training program that educates them on the causes and solutions for inequalities in female versus male education rates.

One of the issues this movement faces is that oftentimes, when girls attend school, they will soon after drop out due to pressures from members of their communities. The traditional gender role for women in Angola is to be domestic wives and mothers and these pressures often prevent families from allowing their daughters to be educated.

It is common for parents to feel that educating their daughters is a waste of time and resources. There is a societal perspective that if a daughter’s fate is to marry, become a mother and run a household, why send her away to school when she could be learning domestic skills?

Changing the Role of Women

In order to change this perspective, Angolan teachers aim to mobilize those members of the community that parents trust, namely religious leaders and members of the traditional and various ethnic communities. By gaining the support of those that parents view as authority figures, the culture around girls’ education in Angola begins to shift from one of wastefulness to one of independence and progress.

The “Back to School” campaign, along with various independent advocacy efforts, work toward teaching young girls that there is no shame in breaking away from the gender roles that they have been taught to accept. Angolan teachers are shown how to make the classroom a place where young girls not only feel invited but encouraged to participate and learn.

Through the efforts of organizations and communities around the nation, young Angolan girls are no longer left with only one option for their lives and futures. Rather, they can become empowered to cultivate new, intellectual skills that will allow them to forge their own path in life based on their own personal choices.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Yemen
Located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is considered one of the least developed countries in the Middle East, according to the Human Development Index. While poverty and political turmoil are some of the key factors that contribute to this categorization, one of the major issues that hinder Yemen’s socioeconomic progress is a gender disparity in the education sector.

In the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, Yemen ranked 141st out of 144 countries in terms of gender disparity in educational attainment. The lack of economic participation, political representation, educational parity, healthcare access and liberty that demonstrate this gap can all be to a great extent traced to the condition of girls’ education in Yemen. There are several factors that influence girls’ education in Yemen, and they can be grouped into two main categories.

Economic and Political Factors in Yemen

Yemen has been suffering from political instability and civil wars since 2014, thus impacting an economy that is continuously shrinking. The collapse of the banking system, lack of employment, the depreciating value of the rial and inflation have led to an appalling economic situation in the country. Amid such economic uncertainty and poverty, most families are discouraged from sending their children, especially girls, to school. Some families also marry off their daughters early to alleviate the extra financial burden. This, in turn, leads to no education or extremely high dropout rates among female students. The other result of these economic and political factors that also affects girls’ education in Yemen is the scarcity of proper classrooms and educational infrastructure.

Sociocultural Factors Impact Girls’ Education

Conservative social and religious customs in Yemen discourage girls from attending mixed-gender classrooms or being taught by male teachers. Families generally prefer female teachers for their daughters. However, with 24 percent of the female population illiterate, it becomes challenging to find a female teaching staff. The shortage of female teachers in rural areas is much more pronounced than in urban areas. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find girls dropping out of school at the primary or secondary level.

Another important sociocultural factor that affects girls’ education in Yemen is underage marriage. The United Nations Population Fund has observed that the rate of child marriage in Yemen has risen from 52 percent of girls marrying under age 18 in 2016 to 66 percent in 2017. Patriarchal customs, child marriage and household chores prevent many girls from attending or completing school.

Despite these challenges to girls’ education in Yemen, significant attempts are being made by the Yemeni government and international bodies to educate more girls in Yemen and bridge the gender disparity in the education sector.

Ministry of Education Works to Improve Girls’ Education in Yemen

In 2007, the Yemeni government, with the aid of IDA (The World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest Countries), trained 550 female teachers, 525 of whom received certification. Other projects like the Basic Development Project for Yemen (2004-2012) attempted to increase enrollment of children in basic education and enhance the quality of teaching in schools.

From 2013 to 2017, the Second Basic Education Development Project for Yemen worked towards improving the quality of basic education and the enrollment rates of girl students in schools, while simultaneously assisting the Ministry of Education in carrying out educational improvements.

The provision for conditional cash transfers (or stipends) to disadvantaged families in certain governorates from 2004 to 2012 encouraged many families to send their daughters to school. At present, Yemen receives financial grants from the Global Partnership for Education to develop its basic education sector.

The IDA, in partnership with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany, has funded the Basic and Secondary Education Development Project and the Girls Access Project. USAID has also been working in Yemen to create safe educational infrastructure for females students, renovating and refurbishing schools and helping the government improve teaching methods in primary schools.

The educational gender disparity in Yemen has not yet been resolved, but through consistent efforts in improving educational infrastructure and quality, female educational campaigns, increasing the number of female educators, lowering costs of education and providing stipends, Yemen can significantly improve its social, cultural and economic status and remove many of the barriers that prevent girls from getting an education.

 – Jayendrina Singha Ray
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ education in Costa Rica
Education in Costa Rica is an important part of the region. Since the late 1800s, the government has made education mandatory and free. The government is now attempting to improve girls’ education in Costa Rica through various ways like the Women’s Empowerment Coalition and offering free schooling.

Women Empowerment

The Women’s Empowerment Coalition is an organization that is combating gender inequality. Its goal is to work with organizations for women’s rights since “of its 4.85 million population, 65 percent of girls in Costa Rica do not finish high school.” This coalition focuses on helping empower women to obtain their education.

Women are slowly attaining their education, but when it comes to the economy, women aren’t really present in making those decisions.

María Isabel Chamorro, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, stated that “women here are reaching higher levels of education, but we have yet to advance in transferring that to women achieving high-level, decision-making positions in the economy.” According to the World Bank, Costa Rica spent about 7 percent of its GDP on education in 2016.

Students Speak Out

In September of 2017, students of the University of Costa Rica and the National University took to the streets to demonstrate their unhappiness with the amount of spending on education. They protested for a higher percentage on education spending for the 2018 national budget.

TeleSur TV reported that students also “urged Legislative Assembly members to approve a law that would allocate 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP for higher education in the 2018 national budget, instead of the 1.37 percent proposed by the incumbent government.” In addition, STEM education lacks women — the gender makes up only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce.

It’s especially important for girls’ education in Costa Rica to have a foundation where they are able to follow their desired career path, especially if it’s a STEM-related career.

Life Success Paired With Legislation

Sandra Cauffman came from a poor family from Costa Rica. At an early age, she vocalized that she wanted to go to the moon after she had seen the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. Today, she serves as the Deputy Director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. Her mother and an elementary school teacher were the encouragement she needed in her early years for her to follow her dreams.

Girls’ education in Costa Rica is becoming even more important because the government is also pushing to help girls utilize education to for success in life. As a step in this direction, the country raised the marriage age to 18 without parental consent in January 2017 to protect young individuals from marrying too young.

According to Their World, the law was put in place to hopefully “prevent teen pregnancy and girls dropping out of school – but enforcement could be a challenge among indigenous communities where child marriage is prevalent.” Under this law, the individual could face a maximum three-year imprisonment for having sex with a minor under the age of 15 if the age difference is more than five years.

Girls’ Education in Costa Rica

In conclusion, Costa Rica is attempting to help girls get an education through free schooling and protection from societal pressures such as child marriage. Students from Costa Rica are also fighting to have more money invested in their education so they’re able to continue pursuing their passions.

Organizations like The Women’s Empowerment Coalition help women acquire their education by actively working with women seeking an education, and hopefully their actions will be repeated by other groups across the globe.

– Valeria Flores
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ education in MalaysiaGirls’ education and access to education have been improving around the world, particularly because of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which set access to education as a major focus. In particular, girls’ education in Malaysia has been on an upward trend for the past few years.

Enrollment levels for girls are equal to or higher than enrollment for boys across the nation, and a higher number of girls complete advanced education than boys. Enrollment trends are a major way of assessing access to education and inclusion in the education system.

Malaysian Female Participation in STEM

However, while these statistics show real progress and effective attempts at change by the government and other organizations, there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed. For example, the number of girls participating in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Malaysia is significantly lower than that of boys.

Girls in Malaysia need to be encouraged to pursue STEM fields and teachers and programs need to be more gender inclusive and sensitive. As STEM fields continue to grow in the nation, gender disparities will continue to increase unless they are targeted by policy and programs.

Gender Inequality in Girls’ Education in Malaysia

Another issue is that girls’ education in Malaysia is not translating into equal opportunities and empowerment once they finish school. In 2016, the World Economic Forum produced the Global Gender Gap Report which scored and ranked nations on the Global Gender Gap Index. It focused on five main aspects of equality: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Malaysia ranked 106 in the world, with a score of 0.666, where 1.00 indicates gender parity and 0.00 indicates the worst inequality.

While Malaysia scored a .985 for educational attainment, girls still do not have equal economic opportunities or political empowerment. This is an area that the government must focus on by implementing programs to target these issues and ensuring that education translates into tangible advantages once girls have left the school system and entered the workforce.

Working to Improve Education in Malaysia

There are a number of organizations that have committed to working on girls’ education in Malaysia, such as UNICEF Malaysia and the All Women’s Action Society Malaysia. These organizations can be an asset to the government and can further the progress that has already been made.

While these are not the only issues challenging gender parity, using a more targeted approach will be beneficial in the long run. With this approach to education and strong planning for the future, Malaysia may be on its way to a more well-rounded society.

– Liyanga de Silva
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