girls' education
Girls’ education is proving to be an important factor in improving a developing nation’s quality of life. Educational equality is not only a lucrative asset to a nation’s economy, but also reduces rates of child malnutrition, and decreases the wage gap found between men and women in many developing countries. These facts about girls’ education will help to illustrate the global situation regarding women in the classroom.

Knowledge is a lifelong skill that brings empowerment, and education is a gift that keeps on giving. Improvements to girls’ education will provide a country with a more knowledgeable workforce, healthier families, less early-life pregnancies and lower wage gaps between men and women.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Developing Countries 

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

Future of Progress 

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

Jason Crosby

Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Islands are located in the northwest of the Pacific Ocean, with a land area of just 181 square kilometers and a population of just over 74,000. While some organizations have promoted women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands since its independence in 1986, the progress of legal rights for girls and women has not been significant.

For the past 30 years, the Marshall Islands has had few female senators. In the country’s 2015 elections, three women won seats, taking up 9 percent of the total 33 members in parliament. In January 2016, Hilda Heine won the presidential election to become the first female president of the Marshall Islands.

Though the nation did ratify the U.N.’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2006, the Marshall Islands has no current legislation on any issues related to domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual harassment or sex tourism. Furthermore, there is no minimum sentence for sexual violence.

Due to the insufficiency of the law, violence against women in this nation is not unusual. A report by Women United Together Marshall Islands has shown that 51 percent of women experience domestic violence, while more than half of the population generally agrees that it is normal to commit violence against women in marital relationships, according to U.N. Women.

On the other hand, as a crucial metric on women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands, gender parity and equality in education has some good news. Literacy rates among male and female youth are above 98 percent at present. A 2015 national review on education in the Marshall Islands reported that girls perform better than boys on all tests except for science in grade three.

However, the gender pay gap and inequality in employment still call for more attention to women’s empowerment in the Marshall Islands. Statistics have shown that the male and female unemployment rates are, respectively, 28 percent and 37 percent. Annual wages of women are $3000 less than those of men in the same occupations. Potential discrimination in job markets frequently restrict women from earning credits or managing businesses, which affects their economic independence.

Another concern is related to women’s health and environmental issues. Due to a shortage of fruits and vegetables, more than half of women in the Marshall Islands have obesity or risk factors for related diseases. Teenage marriage, adolescent pregnancy and mortality for children under five in this nation still remain high compared to the global average, despite significant decreases in the past few decades.

Founded in 1987, a nonprofit organization named Women Union Together Marshall Islands serves as the leading voice for eradicating violence against women in the nation. Several other U.N. organizations have also dedicated efforts to promoting gender equality in the Marshall Islands.

Significant progress on women’s empowerment in Marshall Island has been achieved. Political leaders play a strong role in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women. However, further efforts to improve the status of women are still challenging and necessary.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr

Poverty and Inequality in Bolivia
In 2009, poverty and inequality in Bolivia were some of the highest in South America. Extreme poverty rates were roughly 40 percent and the poorest 10 percent received only 0.5 percent of the total national income.

There was a sharp turnaround between 2004 and 2014, according to the World Bank. Economic growth averaged 4.9 percent annually, moderate poverty rates dropped from 59 to 39 percent, and inequality plummeted. Poverty and inequality in Bolivia began to wane.


Fighting Poverty and Inequality in Bolivia


It was not until 2006, a year after the election of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, that government commitment to economic growth and poverty reduction began to drastically improve. Morales increased spending on health, education, and poverty reduction programs by 45 percent between 2005 and 2006.

On July 22nd, 2017, President Evo Morales declared Bolivia completely independent from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Spurring this independence are the improvements achieved by Morales’s government. Since his election, inflation has run below four percent each year, basic consumption goods have been at a surplus, extreme poverty has fallen to 17 percent and the richest 10 percent of the country, which used to earn 128 times more than the poorest, now only earns about 38 times as much.

What’s more, as Francisco Toro writes, “Bolivia was running budget surpluses every year between 2006 and 2014. This allowed it to draw down the public sector’s debt, which fell from 83 percent of GDP in 2003 to just 26 percent in 2014, even as Bolivia built up its international reserves dramatically, from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $15.1 billion at the end of the boom in 2014.”

Much of this had to do with the burgeoning natural resources in the country. Export revenue, in the decade following the appointment of Morales, grew by six percent contributing to the impressive reduction of poverty an inequality in Bolivia.

Independence from the World Bank and IMF marks a new era for Bolivia. Its unprecedented economic improvements and reduction of poverty and inequality are a victory for the fight against poverty. The question is, will the world follow suit?

Joseph Dover

Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in Paraguay
Paraguay is a South American country, located between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Similar to its neighbors, Paraguay has experienced significant economic growth over the past decade, mostly due to its agricultural industry. Despite this, hunger in Paraguay continues to be an ongoing issue, due to a lack of equal wealth distribution.

Paraguay produces enough food for 60 million people, yet 10 percent of its population of seven million is plagued by chronic hunger or malnourishment. This staggering statistic is the result of how the land is proportioned. Of the total agricultural land in Paraguay, 94 percent is used for exports, while only six percent is devoted to domestic food production.

On paper, this would seem an easy fix to hunger in Paraguay: re-appropriate the land to increase the production of food for the citizens. However, it is estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of the land in Paraguay is owned by the top two to three percent, who have a vested interest in maximizing profits, and thus use as much of that agricultural land for exports as possible.

This agricultural development model has also resulted in Paraguay having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. In addition, this aggressive use of agriculture for high export rates results in an excessive use of pesticides, which are not only detrimental to the environment but negatively influence human health.

Despite the rise in economic productivity, the “new money” is reaching very few hands, and the families in rural areas are paying the price. Eighteen percent of the rural population of Paraguay is living in a state of extreme poverty, and in indigenous communities, the number is much larger at 57 percent. Even more disheartening is that 17 percent of children under five are malnourished, which leads to stunted growth, among other health issues.

If hunger in Paraguay is going to be properly addressed, the Paraguayan government has to step in to address the corruption as well as the income and land inequality.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in China
Poverty in China may soon be a reality of the past. Last year, China relocated 2.49 million people from poverty-stricken areas to developed communities. By the end of this year, leaders plan to relocate 3.4 million.

This goal comes on the heels of China’s ambitious strategy to eradicate poverty in the nation by 2020. At first glance, this plan appears impossible: today, there are still around 45 million in China who live below the poverty line, where they are often left without clean water, power or roads. In regards to the population as a whole, this tallies up to one in 10 persons. There is also significant inequality between genders and regions, which places further hurdles for the government to tackle poverty.

However, if any country can face the odds and overcome, China has the best track record.

China has brought more citizens out of poverty than any other country. Between 1990 and 2010, the government increased the per capita income by tenfold, from $200 to $5,000, which brought China into the category of middle-income countries. This accomplishment stands as the reason why the number of people affected by global poverty decreased by more than three-quarters. Presently, the Chinese government has nearly eradicated urban poverty by paying subsidies to its citizens within cities and increasing the minimum income by $700. By the end of 2016, relocation projects occurred in 22 provinces, for which authorities are seeking out employment and social security for those impacted.

Apart from relocation, another aspect China may need to consider while making these significant changes is their fight against air pollution. Currently, poor air quality is killing around 4,000 people each day. While taking the citizens out of poverty in China, equitable growth must be sustained in a manner that cuts back on air pollution, rather than maintain or increase it.

Regardless, after last year’s mass relocation and China’s assertion to end poverty, it would be hard to doubt the success of their relocating 3.4 million people into better living conditions.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

what causes global poverty
As governments, aid workers and activists search for solutions to the urgent problem of widespread poverty and seek to combat its many negative effects, there is a need to identify the causes of poverty in order to create sustainable change. Understanding what causes global poverty is a crucial part of the process of devising and implementing effective solutions.

Most analysts would agree that there is no single root cause of all poverty everywhere throughout human history. However, even taking into account the individual histories and circumstances of particular countries and regions, there are significant trends in the causes of poverty.


Top 5 Causes of Poverty


  1. History
    Many of the poorest nations in the world were former colonies from which slaves and resources had been systematically extracted for the benefit of colonizing countries. Although there are notable exceptions (Australia, Canada and the U.S. being perhaps the most prominent), for most of these former colonies, colonialism and its legacies have helped create the conditions that prevent many people from accessing land, capital, education and other resources that allow people to support themselves adequately. In these nations, poverty is one legacy of a troubled history involving conquest.
  2. War & political instability
    Whatever the causes of war and political upheaval, it is clear that safety, stability and security are essential for subsistence and, beyond that, economic prosperity and growth. Without these basics, natural resources cannot be harnessed individually or collectively, and no amount of education, talent or technological know-how will allow people to work and reap the benefits of their labor. Laws are needed to protect rights, property and investments, and without legal protections, farmers, would-be entrepreneurs and business owners cannot safely invest in a country’s economy. It is a telling sign that the poorest countries in the world have all experienced civil war and serious political upheaval at some point in the 20th century, and many of them have weak governments that cannot or do not protect people against violence.
  3. National Debt
    Many poor countries carry significant debt due to loans from wealthier nations and international financial institutions. Poorer nations owe an average of $2.30 in debt for every $1 received in grant aid. In addition, structural adjustment policies by organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund often require poorer nations to open their markets to outside business and investors, thereby increasing competition with local businesses and, many argue, undermining the potential development of local economies. In recent years, calls for debt reduction and forgiveness have been increasing, as activists see this as a key means of reducing poverty. The United Nations has also made it a priority to examine how economic structural adjustment policies can be designed to place less pressure on vulnerable populations.
  4. Discrimination and social inequality
    Poverty and inequality are two different things, but inequality can feed widespread poverty by barring groups with lower social status from accessing the tools and resources to support themselves. According to the United Nations Social Policy and Development Division, “inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty.” The U.N. and many aid groups also point out that gender discrimination has been a significant factor in holding many women and children around the world in poverty.
  5. Vulnerability to natural disasters
    In regions of the world that are already less wealthy, recurrent or occasional catastrophic natural disasters can pose a significant obstacle to eradicating poverty. The effects of flooding in Bangladesh, drought in the Horn of Africa and the 2005 earthquake in Haiti are examples of the ways in which vulnerability to natural disasters can be devastating to affected countries. In each of these cases, already impoverished people became refugees within their own countries, losing whatever little they had, being forced out of their living spaces and becoming almost completely dependent on others for survival. According to the World Bank, two years after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, the debt burden of local fishermen had doubled. The Solomon Islands experienced an earthquake and tsunami in 2007 and the losses from that disaster equaled 95 percent of the national budget. Without foreign aid, governments in these countries would have been unable to meet the needs of their people.

These are only five causes of poverty. They are both external and internal causes; both man-made and natural. Just as there is no single cause of poverty, there is no single solution. Nevertheless, understanding the ways in which complex forces like these interact to create and sustain the conditions of widespread global poverty is a vital step toward combating poverty around the world.

– Délice Williams

Source: Global Issues, USCCB, World Bank



Income Disparity in South Africa
The country of South Africa is divided among those with nothing and those with seemingly everything, making for extremely high rates of poverty for the country overall. The income disparity in South Africa has had an impact not only on the domestic economy and security, but also on the global economy.

Reports show that approximately four percent of households in the country of South Africa make up 32 percent of the country’s household incomes. At the same time, about 10 percent of the citizens live in what are considered extreme poverty conditions, meaning families are living on under $1.25 a day. This disparity has not only drawn attention to the state of the economy, but it has also put a significant strain on the social aspects of the country as a whole.

Though South Africa stands as the second largest economy in Africa, economic disparity amidst the population has created more social tensions and controversy than the numbers would anticipate. Research shows that rates of disparity between members of the 90th percentile and 50th percentile citizens, in terms of income and economic security, have been continuing to grow in recent years. This means that the likelihood of social mobility, say from working class to middle class, or any further for that means, are rather difficult, and nearly impossible.

Despite becoming a democracy, South Africa continues to suffer with inequality between its citizens. This has proven to be an issue regarding security, as the growing size of the lower class and number of impoverished people compares to that of the other four percent. Lack of education can be a great contributing factor to this, as the number of unskilled and uneducated workers heavily outweighs the number of skilled workers in the country. Lack of skill and education leads to less opportunity for the average South African worker. Thus, educating and teaching more skill sets to the people of South Africa may, in part, begin to decrease the growing gap that continues to drive the people of the country apart.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: CNBC Africa, World Policy
Photo: Daily Maverick

Equal Education in Senegal
Once known around the world as the finish line of the famous Paris-Dakar Rally, the small West African country of Senegal stands out in from its neighbors. Unlike many of other West African countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Senegal has never experienced any notable conflicts or civil war in the last century.

This distinction has helped to garner the country a deserved reputation for high political stability in an often war-torn continent. However, Senegal also lacks the natural resources of many of its African peers and consequentially ranks as one of the poorest nations on earth. According to UNICEF, 22 percent of its population lives on less than a dollar per day.

For the youth of Senegal and for girls in particular, this has hindered the effectiveness of Senegal’s education system. However, the country has experienced a significant improvement in recent years. In 2009, 92.5 percent of Senegalese children attended primary school. This represents a dramatic improvement from 82 percent in 2005 and only 54 percent in 1994.

Yet, this overall progress belies a residual and significant flaw in in education in Senegal; in the long run, girls are far more likely than boys to drop out and to receive less education. At a casual glance, however, it might not seem this way. In 2012, primary school enrollment was actually higher for girls than it was for boys at 74 percent and 72 percent respectively.

While the data for primary school enrollment suggests gender parity, this is not actually the case. As the children progress through their schooling, girls experience noticeably lower rates of attendance. This first becomes apparent upon the transition to secondary school. In contrast to 62 percent of their male peers, 57 percent of girls begin secondary school.

The disparity only widens as their education continues. Secondary school enrollment for boys was 34 percent for boys and 27 percent for girls. Ultimately, one can see the results of gender inequality in Senegal’s adult literacy rate; 62 percent of males and only 39 percent of females were literate. For every 10 literate men in Senegal, only 6 women have attained literacy.

These severe and disparate dropout rates reflect the economic challenges that effect poorer families in Senegal. Children frequently must quit their schooling in order to provide more money for their family by working.

This burden falls harder on girls. Often families will marry off daughters at a young age to lessen their economic burden or they will employ them around the house conducting domestic duties. Many will expect to do domestic work for the rest of their lives. This career choice puts girls and women at greater risk of sexual abuse and financial exploitation.

For families of higher economic standing, education in Senegal is less of an issue and more of an expectation. Girls from wealthier households have twice the attendance rate in primary school.

In the city of Dakar, one of the economic pillars of the Senegalese economy, private schools are becoming even more common. In fact, most schools in Dakar are private rather than public. This has created an even greater educational disparity for those without the money to pay for education.
The wealth and gender inequality in secondary education also carries over to higher education.

UNESCO reported that an increasing amount of private institutions has hindered accessibility for many college students. Additionally, more men were enrolled than women as college students. According to the World Bank, for every 10 male college students there were only 6 female students.
With the help of foreign aid from USAID and The World Bank, Senegal is attempting to develop and expand its education system. Already, funds from USAID have greatly improved education in the nation.

In total, it has allowed for 500,000 children to enroll in school of which 300,000 were girls. USAID has also helped to expand the educational infrastructure of Senegal through the construction of over 100 middle schools. It has donated more than 3 million textbooks and provided 20,000 schoolchildren with internet access.

The World Bank initiated an ongoing project called “Tertiary Education Governance and Financing for Results Project for Senegal” which is aimed at “[enhancing] the efficiency and quality of the higher education system” in Senegal. While the project is not expected to end until 2016, it has already posted impressive results. It found that 88 percent of academic programs fit quality standards in June 2015 with the target set at 90 percent in September 2016.

To lessen gender inequality, UNESCO and the Senegalese government have teamed up to initiate the “Girls and Women’s Literacy in Senegal” program. It aims to provide 40,000 women and girls with high quality education and more professional opportunities.

More still needs to be done, and with only 750,000 dollars of funding, this initiative cannot single-handedly solve the issue of inequality in Senegal’s education system. With the help of more foreign aid, Senegal can expect further progress.

Andrew Logan

Sources: The Guardian, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UNESCO 1, UNICEF, UNESCO 2, USAID, The World Bank

Photo: Open Equal Free

One-Direction-Anti-Poverty-CampaignOne Direction is coming to Seattle. The world-renowned teen heartthrob band One Direction has recently made an important addition to their laundry list of achievements. The band members have collectively launched an impressive anti-poverty campaign that also seeks to tackle inequality and slow down climate change.

They have named the initiative the Action/1D manifesto, and have asked their millions and millions of fans across the globe to contribute. Fans are encouraged to share powerful, creative pieces that will help raise awareness of our world’s most pressing issues.

The band’s initiative is part of the wider action/2015 campaign. This larger campaign is a global citizens movement founded on the idea that 2015 can be the pivotal year when the world finally sets out to tackle persisting global issues like poverty.

The boys stress that their initiative—and the campaign as a whole—will not see success unless World Leaders are successfully swayed. Change can only happen if the harnessed power of everyday people compels leaders to make long-term commitments.

Although they are speaking out to a primarily younger fan base, they still wholeheartedly believe in the power of everyday citizens. The band released a statement explaining, “Young people really do have the power to help end poverty, tackle inequality and to stop the dangerous climate change.”

In fact, the band believes that now is the time for members of the younger generation to take action, and create a united voice that is loud enough to reach the ears of leaders worldwide.

The band has released a collaborative video asking fans to get involved by posting videos and pictures depicting how they would “celebrate” the campaign’s victory. Another option for fans is to answer the question, “What would your ideal future look like?”

The plan is for fan-sourced content to be delivered in a single video depicting one strong, unified, socially driven message. Each band member will also release his own individual video in the months to come. Louis will reportedly be the first to do this, with plans to release his personalized video on July 13.

One Direction is the most recent high-profile group to join many other famous personalities in supporting the 2015 campaign. Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Sir Richard Branson, Shakira, Ben Affleck, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono have already issued their campaign support.

When people in the global limelight choose to utilize their power to harness support for important issues like poverty, significant changes can be made. According to Declan Fahy, an associate professor at American University’s School of Communication, celebrities have the ability to “personify ideas and social issues.”

By showing the world how important issues like poverty, inequality, and climate change are to them, One Direction is encouraging their fans to adopt similar perspectives. By putting a face on these complex issues, famous people can make their audience feel more connected to the problem, and even mobilize them to take action.

As one of the biggest bands in the world, One Direction has the power to bring the most important global issues to the forefront. Especially by encouraging a younger generation to care about these issues, the band could help make huge strides in the worldwide fight against poverty.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Daily Star (UK), Think Progress
Photo: Cambio