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Educating Girls...Transfroming the future Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Timmy, Nigeria Dec 15, 2003
Education , Human Rights   Opinions
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Uneducated and undereducated girls are robbed of the opportunity to improve their own lives. Denying them their right to a quality education effectively denies them all other human rights and shrinks the chances of advancement for succeeding generations, particularly the chances of their daughters to develop to their fullest potential.

What is Keeping Girls out of School?

In every region of the world, gender discrimination is pervasive and persistent, affecting all aspects of the lives of women and girls. Its powerful influence on a young girl's life is evident as the families are the ones who decide whether their daughters should attend school or not.
* Poverty keeps girls out of school. Poor families tend to see educating girls as a luxury which they simply cannot afford.
* Cultural practices and traditions where girls are usually kept at home to take care of younger ones and do household chores.
* Discrimination and myths that educating girls is money and time wasted.
* Other reasons include: Vulnerability to sexual harassment and violence in school, exclusions of pregnant adolescents and young mothers, lack of reading and writing materials such as books, pens etc.

When a Society Educates Girls

Educating girls educates nations. It is one of the best investments a society can make. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence she needs to a better life.
* An educated woman tends to make more independent personal, political and economic decisions.
* An educated mother will encourage her children to go to school and be educated as well.
* An educated mother tends to be healthier and to raise a healthier family. Literate mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children.
* Family incomes increase as educated women are more productive at home and better paid at work. Wages increase by approximately 15% for each additional year of schooling.
* Educated girls can better protect themselves against sexual violence, forced labour and diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
* There is longer life expectancy of women who are educated than women who cannot read nor write.

Finally, educating girls can help eradicate poverty and promote peace. Education decreases social burdens on government, increases family incomes and produces a larger and better prepared workforce. It raises living standards and gross national products. Women have emerged as major agents of social progress-as citizens, community leaders, political figures and mothers. Their education is critical to sustaining this momentum. Without swift action, another generation of girls will be left in the margins and have their human rights denied.

Efforts in Bridging the Gender Gap

At the millennium summit in 2000, world leaders promised to get as many girls as boys into school by 2005. With only two years to go, they are well short of their target. Without emergency action they will fail out-right.

Education is a fundamental human right and is linked to all other rights. It is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Article 2 reinforces gender equality by ensuring all the rights of children without discrimination of any kind. In 1990, 100 governments at the landmark world conference on Education for All (EFA) made access to quality education for girls and women "the highest priority".
UN agencies including UNICEF, UNESCO AND the ILO are supporting educational programs for girls in various countries. Thousands of NGOs are working to advance girls education. Despite these efforts, gender disparities have remained static or even increased. Resources have remained inadequate. Acknowledging this short-fall in progress and political will, the governments that attended the 2000 world education forum in Dakar and 10 year review of EFA, renewed their commitment to ensuring quality primary education by 2015 with a special emphasis on girls.
Achieving these goals require expanding on going activities, strengthening partnerships and increasing resources. One of such efforts is a new 10 year initiative the UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) in which 13 UN agencies are working together to help governments meet their commitments.

What Can and Should Be Done

The National and State governments should:
* Increase spending on education to provide enough classrooms, books and adequately trained teachers.
* Create policies to eliminate gender bias and discrimination at all levels of education.
* Show a demonstrated commitment to quality throughout education systems.
* Make primary education free for all. Abolish fees and drop charges for books and uniforms.
* Ensure that all studies and extra-curricular activities are available to girls
* Help working children go to school as most poor families often depend on their daughters' labour.
* Provide a second chance for girls and women who missed out on school or drop outs.

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