On the 8th of March, people all over the world will celebrate International Women’s Day by renewing the calls for gender equality across all aspects of life. At Link, we are fighting for women’s rights to education, something which sadly is still unobtainable for many girls.
UNESCO statistics do show encouraging progress:
- In 1990, fewer than half of all girls completed primary school in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 67% today;
- The adult literacy rate for women in the region is just under 54% today, compared to 35% in 1990, and;
- 21% of primary-school aged girls don’t attend school, down from 50% in the same period.
Whilst it’s encouraging to see so much progress in the right direction, clearly there is still a long way to go. If the global community wants to reach the UN development goal target of quality education for all by 2030 we must invest more in girls’ education.
Not only is it every girl’s right to learn, evidence shows that it has a hugely positive impact on global development. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five. In fact, each extra year of schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5% to 10%. Education is a key factor to achieving gender equality worldwide in and of itself. Just one additional year of schooling can increase a woman’s earnings by up to 20% and girls with a secondary education are five times less likely to be child brides compared with girls who have little or no education.
We cannot allow future generations of girls to miss out on their right to education.
At Link, we’re proud to be driving forward with girls’ education across our work. In Malawi, we’re working with girls who have either never been to school, or who dropped out without learning to read or write; helping them back into school, vocational training or employment. In Ethiopia, we’re supporting over 61,000 girls from extremely marginalised groups to make the often challenging transition from primary to secondary school.
This International Women’s Day, while we reflect on the progress made in the last few decades, we must not be complacent. There is a long way to go until all women and girls achieve equality in education and until all children are in school and learning Link will continue to defend and fight for this most basic human right.