The power of the adolescent girl: vision for 2030
The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on 11 October every year. This day highlights the issues young women and girls face with regards to gender inequality. The theme of 2017’s celebration is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement”.
Girls around the world are faced with many challenges that restrict them from developing into educated and confident contributing citizens. Factors that limit this can range from domestic problems, community stigma or lack of finances, which are most common in underprivileged backgrounds and areas.
The issues and challenges that require attention and research are vast. Child marriage is one of the main threats to girls worldwide; nearly one in three girls are married before they turn 18, and one in seven before they turn 15.
Almost 700 million women are married under the age of 18, usually to men much older than them. The reason for this is often the fact that the husband will be able to provide for her better than her parents, therefore attending school becomes non existent as these girls are now wives and are expected to do wifely duties. Poverty seems to be the common denominator for child marriages.
Females also make up 80% of the 800 000 people trafficked annually, which accounts for 50% of all sexual assaults on girls under 16 years old. There are twice as many girls not attending schools as boys and twice as many illiterate women as men. However, the benefits of educating a girl child has far reaching consequences as it impacts society as a whole. An educated woman is skilled, has the correct information and is self-confident to be a better parent, worker and citizen.
What would it take to improve education amongst girls:
- Parental and community involvement – Families and communities should partner with schools to develop curriculums and manage children’s education.
- Low-cost and flexible timetables – Basic education should be free, or cost very little.
- Schools close to home with female teachers – Many parents worry about girls travelling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
- Preparation for school – Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and confidence.
Benefits of educating a girl child
- Literacy – Offering children education will improve the literacy rates, pushing forward development in struggling regions.
- Human Trafficking – Through providing young girls with education, they are less at risk of being trafficked.
- Politics – Women as voters and restricted from political involvement. Civic education, training and empowerment will ease this gap.
- Children – Children of educated mothers have better chances to survive past the age of five.
- Sex – A girl who completes primary school is three times less likely to contract HIV.
- Marriage – If a girl receives seven or more years of education, marriage is delayed by four years.
- Families – Increased participation in school reduces birth rates over time. Women with no education have an average of seven children.
- Income – Education empowers and enables women to become contributing citizens, where they can earn an income and support their family.
- GDP – GDP will increase when both sexes are being offered the same educational opportunities. When 10 percent more women attend school, GDP increases by three percent on average.
- Poverty – When women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they are involved in business and economic activities. Increased earning power and income combat poverty through feeding, clothing and providing for entire families.
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