Women and Education: Overview
“By combining the right to education with rights within education, we can achieve rights through education.”
- United Nations Children’s Fund
Worldwide, policymakers and community leaders have recognized that women are the key to improving and maintaining any nation’s development, let alone progress for all of humanity. Educating women resolves chronic impediments in health and the economy. Eradicating poverty as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) cannot be achieved without an investment in women, and that means educating girls.
- Education is a fundamental human right for all.
- Educated girls have more life choices as members of their community.
- Educated women are more likely to send their daughters to school.
- Educated women tend to marry later and have fewer children who are more likely to be better nourished and healthier.
- Educated women and girls are better able to protect themselves against preventable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.
- Educated women are a key factor in reducing poverty rates and improving overall community and social well-being.
More school-age girls than boys do not attend school. More girls than boys fail to finish school. More women than men are illiterate. Policymakers have outlined two key goals for closing this gender gap in education.
- Gender parity, or equalizing the number of girls and boys attending school, is one part of the solution. Gender parity has been reached in many regions, including much of Latin American and the Caribbean, some Arab states, and the Asia/Pacific region. In some countries, girls outnumber boys in school due to factors such as the traditional roles of minding livestock, but the overwhelming numbers still favor boys.
- Gender equality in education, however, means ensuring that once in school, girls and young women experience an environment that is conducive to their success and ability to achieve equality in society. That translates into schools that set and implement curricular goals that do not favor boys’ achievement over that of girls, and that focus on meeting the needs of both genders equally.
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