THE GLOBAL CRISIS
130 million girls didn’t go to school today – not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t have the chance. These young women who do not have the right to education are not only missing out on learning basic cognitive skills, but are being set up for short lives filled with sickness and abuse. In many countries, this lack of education makes young women more likely to become child brides, suffer from diseases such as HIV, get pregnant at younger ages, and die young. Study after study has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. Not only does an education teach girls how to read and subtract, but it empowers them to stand up against injustice and become an integral part of the economy – ultimately benefiting not only themselves, but their families, communities, and the greater economy.
Some countries lose more than $1 billion each year by failing to give girls an adequate education. Yet, girls’ education has been recognized as a silver bullet solution to bring communities out of poverty. When 10% more of a country’s girls go to school, thier GDP can increase by an average of 3%. Just one extra year of secondary education can increase a woman’s income by as much as 25% per year. An educated woman is more likely than a man to save these earnings, take on entrepreneurial pursuits, invest in her community, and empower other women, reversing the cycle of poverty and sparking a “cycle of prosperity.”
Education has tremendous effects on girls’ health. Not only is an educated woman less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, but her family and children will have much better health as well. Complications during pregnancy are the leading causes of death for girls ages 15-19 globally. The longer a girl remains in school, the longer she will wait to get pregnant and the healthier she and her baby will both be. Each additional year of primary school that a girl gets leads her to have .26 fewer children – leaving her with better survival rates and more money to spend on fewer family members. In Burkina Faso, mothers with secondary education are twice as likely to give birth more safely in health facilities as those with no education at all. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a child born to a woman who cannot. At the same time, a study in Zambia has found that HIV spreads twice as fast among uneducated girls, and a study in Uganda has demonstrated that each additional year of education for girls reduces their chances of contracting HIV by 6.7%.
These bios were taken from ONE’s #GirlsCount initiative.
A CALL FOR ACTION
ONE is an advocacy organization that works to end poverty and extreme disease, and much of their focus to accomplishing these goals is through campaigning for girls’ education. They have acknowledged that “poverty is sexist” and have started the #GirlsCount movement to create the longest video of all time, in which each individual of the 130 million girls without an education is represented through people just like you and me picking a number, and recording themselves counting this number. I urge you to visit One.org, and pick a number. I am representing #23,372.
The responsibility lies on our shoulders to make a change. We often take advantage of the education that we are so lucky to have, and we need to remember to cherish it. Yet, more importantly, we need to raise awareness of the dire global crisis that is the lack of girls’ education in impoverished communities, and ensure that it is widely acknowledged that educating girls is the key to ending global poverty.
Gillard, Julia, and Cate Blanchett. “Educate Women and Their Community Will Prosper. Deny Them Education and the World Will Suffer | Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Oct. 2014, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/01/educate-women-and-their-community-will-prosper-deny-them-education-and-the-world-will-suffer.
Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
McCarthy, Joe. “Educating Girls Is the Key to Ending Poverty.” Global Citizen, 7 Aug. 2015, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/educating-girls-is-the-key-to-ending-poverty/.
Population Reference Bureau. “The Effect of Girls’ Education on Health Outcomes: Fact Sheet.” Population Reference Bureau, 5 Aug. 2011, www.prb.org/girls-education-fact-sheet/.
Ramesh, Kaavya. “8 Quotes about the Girls’ Education Crisis You Need to Read.” ONE, 18 Oct. 2017, www.one.org/us/2017/10/18/crisis-education-quotes/.