Submitted by Jennifer Bews
“We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the fish”. This is the anthropologist’s mantra in defining the way in which our ideologies and implicit behaviours shape how we see ourselves and the world around us.
Education is the antidote.
A mother with an upper-secondary or post-secondary education is more likely to raise daughters with the skills they need to uphold their own rights, which trickles down for each generation to come. For daughters, each year of education reduces unplanned pregnancies and risk of becoming victim to domestic and sexual abuse or human trafficking, and creates stronger negotiating skills with their fathers, husbands, and brothers. Beyond that, in politics, “female legislators are typically more supportive of health and education spending, and less keen on big armies (The Economist, 2021).
Education is power. As Adrienne Benson writes for her character, Simi in The Brightest Sun, “…A husband can beat his wife, he can take what she has, but he can never take the things she knows.”
Many development experts differ on topics, but they agree that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to ease world issues, such as poverty, oppression, and inequality. Boys’ education is important too, but girls have much more catching up to do on a world scale (The Economist, 2021).
Sadly, girls’ education has been greatly impacted by the pandemic in both the poor and rich countries. According to UNESCO, 11 million girls could never return to school after Covid-19.
But there is opportunity. There are organizations making education more accessible. For women, in all stages of life, online educational institutions have opened a door that relieves some of the financial, geographical, and timing barriers. In a recent study commissioned by Athabasca University, 60% of Canadians believe that the future of education will be modular, stackable micro-credentials, done when individuals need it. Creating flexibility around course load, timing and financial investment over a longer period while working or raising a family.
Organizations like Women for Women International provide education and support for women survivors of war and conflict. Their global community invests in women by connecting them with each other, resources, and support to realize their power. Women for Women International is currently providing emergency support for Afghan women and looking for donors to help them do just that.
Girls across the globe have much to gain from education. Their contribution to the health and vitality of our world should be encouraged and celebrated.
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