Reversing The Course
Educating a girl can reverse the course of her life, change the course of a community...and a country
If you think I am exaggerating, here are some statistics that will shock you:
- There are approximately 130 million school-age children who are not in school
- 70% of them are girls
- In many parts of the world (most of my research has been focused on Sub-Saharan Africa), girls follow two paths – obtain an education or be denied an education. Here is what happens to the majority of the millions of young girls who live in poverty...
If a girl does not attend school, her chances of becoming a victim rise dramatically
- Of the 796 million illiterates worldwide, two-thirds are women
- Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 47% of out-of-school children worldside, the majority of which are girls
- A girl who lives in poverty is often sold into marriage by her family. Child marriages can begin as young as age 9 or 10
- In many parts of the world, a girl is considered a woman by age 12. If she is not attending school, there is a high chance that she will have her first child by age 14 or 15
- One in seven girls in the developing world, excluding China, is married before age 15
- The leading cause of death in girls 15-19 is HIV/AIDS. Girls 10-14 are five times more likely to die than all other age groups from complications in pregnancy. The life expectancy of Maasai women is 45
- Maasai girls are typically circumcised between the ages of 11-13 and then married soon after to a man chosen by their fathers in exchange for cattle and cash
- In Haiti, one third of girls over age six never attend school
- Many children do not attend school because many countries do not have a public school system and families cannot afford school fees. In Africa, average annual income is $315 (excluding South Africa)
- Uganda has the third highest fertility rate in Africa
- Maasai women are never allowed to divorce (except in extreme cases of physical abuse) and are never allowed to marry again. Even if the husband is an old man when the girl is married, when he dies, she becomes the property of one of her husband's brothers
- Without an education, a girl has little control over her life. Most often, her husband is chosen by her father soon after reaching puberty. She lives with her husband's family and other wives and will have many children, regardless of her health or the ability to provide for those children. She will live a life of physical labor, few comforts and fully dependent on a husband she did not choose
- Sadly, the children of these girls are also destined to follow this same cycle of poverty and hopelessness
If a girl attends school, the story has a much happier ending
- School attendance provides girls with protection during their years of puberty
- A girl who wears a school uniform and carries books is often protected by her village community and gains status
- For each year a girl attends school, her income increases 20%
- When a girl attends school, her chances of contracting HIV dramatically decrease. This then increases her chances of having fewer but healthier children when she is ready
- Girls who have received a secondary education regularly become nurses and health assistants in their villages. The simple sanitation and nutrition methods they practice and teach can extend lives and make for healthier daily living for their entire community
- Young women who have attended secondary school often become teachers. The positive effect is immediate for the young girls they teach as they provide encouragement, support and a safe learning environment. Female teachers empower girls, provide an example of responsibility and respectability and teach leadership skills
- Attendance at school allows a girl to enter womanhood and develop her human potential. Her education benefits her immediate family and extends into her community
- For each year a girl goes to school, there are 10% fewer deaths of girls
- For every woman who has an education, the opportunities for her children to become educated rise dramatically
Of the 20 poorest countries in the world, 18 of them are in Africa
Men in Sub-Saharan Africa reinvest 30%-40% of their income in their families
Women in Sub-Saharan Africa who earn income reinvest 90% in their families
Investing in girls’ education is the best way to break the cycle of poverty that grips underdeveloped countries and continents worldwide
See how Reverse The Course is trying to be part of the solution: You+Me=Change
If you want to learn more or check my facts, check out my sources!
Basic Education and Gender Equality Education for All, Unite for Children (UNICEF). UNICEF, 10 Nov. 2008. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
Basic Education and Gender Equality: The Big Picture, Unite for Children (UNICEF). UNICEF, 12 Oct. 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
The Girl Effect, The Girl Effect, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
Girls Count: 'An adolescent girl living in poverty is the most powerful person in the world.', Goldberg, Mark Leon, Kathy Bushkin Calvin, and Maria Eitel. UN DISPATCH. UN, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
Here are the 20 Poorest Countries in the World, Business Insider. Business Insider, 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
New Lessons: The Power of Educating Adolescent Girls. Lloyd, Cynthia B., and Juliet Young. New York: The Population Council Inc.
Keeping the Promise: Five Benefits of Girl’s Secondary Education, Rihani, May A, Lisa Kays, and Stephanie Psaki. AED, 2006. Web. 24 Oct. 2010. http://www.aed.org
Gender Equality: The Missing Link? Rethinking the Internationally Agreed Development Goals beyond 2015, Rivoallan, Russell, Caroline Descombris, and Jacques Plouin, eds. . UNGEI. UNESCO, 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
Africa and Economics, Hanke, Steve H., Forbes.com. 28 May 2001. http://www.forbes.com/global/2001/0528/046.html.
She’s Just a Girl. YouTube. Plan, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.
Children Out of School: Measuring Exclusion from Primary Education, UNICEF & UNESO, Montreal, Quebec, 2005.