There are many reasons to support and promote education for girls around the world. Education gives girls and women the confidence to speak up for themselves; educated girls are less likely to marry as children and they have children of their own later; educated women are able to better provide for their families; a mother with just primary school is more likely to ensure that her own children receive the health treatments they need, and their children – girls and boys – are more likely to attend school themselves. Educating a girl creates a positive cycle for children, families and communities.
All of these things are true. Yet, besides these clear benefits of educating girls, education in and of itself is simply a right that should not be denied to any child.
In this article published in Project Syndicate, Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, writes about the global push for girls’ rights to an education. He writes that the kidnappings in Nigeria, as well as protests against violations of women’s and girls’ rights in India, have caused local voices to demand to rise.
“…the yawning gap between what girls are demanding and the opportunities on offer to them is fueling a liberation struggle led by girls themselves.”
Yet, progress, Mr. Brown writes, is not taking a steady path forwards and much remains to be done to achieve universal education and an end to child marriage.
According to UNESCO, 58 million primary aged children around the world are not in school. Half of these live in Sub-Sarahan Africa, and as Mr. Brown states,
“In Nigeria alone, six million girls to not attend school; around the world, ten million girls each year become child brides, and seven million school-age girls are full-time workers.”
The 60 million girls Foundation is working hard towards ending this disparity. This year, we are supporting a project for a secondary school for girls in Kenya, part of a two year commitment with our partner, Free The Children. In Afghanistan’s Khost province, we are partnering with CARE Canada to contribute to a project to give girls a safe learning environment.