“Educating girls is central to any nation transforming itself.” Julia Gillard, Chair of Global Partnership for Education
Living in any of the most developed nations, people may take for granted that boys and girls will have equal access to educational opportunities. It’s easy to ignore, when surrounded by relative wealth and opportunities, that there is a lack of access to education, particularly for girls, in many of the developing countries. Educate Girls Network (EGN) focuses its work in Liberia, West Africa, assisting young women in getting the university education they need in order to become teachers.
A commitment to the education of girls means ensuring that the female population of a nation has completed primary and secondary school education and at every grade level, reading, writing and numeracy standards are met. The option to move into further training at a university or vocational level must be available to all regardless of income or socioeconomic circumstance.
While gender inequality is hidden in employment and earning statistics in a country like Canada, for example, gender inequality in education in less developed nations is more overt. In many parts of the world, it is assumed that women will marry young rather than follow a career. Boys are perceived by parents as being the providers – for their own children – but also for their elderly parents. In many parts of the world, parents with little or no education themselves will often prioritize education for their sons, but not their daughters
Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women. The common quote, “If you educate a girl, you educate a family and develop a nation” underscores the significance of improving the educational opportunities for girls. International human rights documents emphasize this. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to education,” and that it should be “free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRA), in Article 28, states that the right of the child to education should be on “the basis of equal opportunity.” Nations around the world have ratified these treaties.
An educated girl is a powerful one. Girls are half the world’s population. Significantly, girls become women and women bear children and then raise those children. While educating both boys and girls is equally and ethically important, the effects of providing more education for a girl will ensure that boys prosper too. The benefits of these efforts will be intergenerational, breaking the cycle of poverty for that girl’s current and future family, which will, in turn, assist a nation in transforming itself.
Join EGN to fund teacher education for young Liberian women, helping Liberians to transform their country into a vibrant, strong and viable place for all of its citizens.