Gender equality in education should be a global priority. Despite the tremendous evolution during the past 20 years, gender inequality still persists.
Millions of girls around the world face huge obstacles in getting an education. What initiatives are there to help overcome those issues and ensure that young people have the same right to education?
Despite the huge progress, girls are still more likely to never set foot in a school compared to boys. Education is a tremendous fundamental human right for everybody. Another basic human right is equality between women and men.
Nevertheless, in the educational field women still continue to face the traditional gender roles that are accepted by society. These stereotypical concepts strongly control and reduce their chances to get a proper education.
Gender equality in education
Main goals for gender equality in education are aimed to eliminate gender disparity not only in primary and secondary, but also in all levels of education. This will help to increase the number of women who are involved in politics, resulting in growth of female professional in that field.
Fortunately, many countries have achieved, or are close to achieving gender equality in primary education. However, there are some exceptions, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It’s noteworthy that in the past decade more girls have been enrolled in primary school than ever before. Furthermore, in Nepal and Bangladesh, the gender disparity is in favor of girls.
However, there are still vast inequalities at higher levels of education, in particular in Africa and South Asia.
According to statistics, about 126 million young people still lack basic reading and writing skills. Sixty percent of them are female.
What are the main challenges and issues of gender equality in education?
There is no doubt that poverty is one of the main reasons for illiteracy. Millions of women and girls in the world are still forced to spend hours doing household chores and caring for other family members. The lack of sanitation facilities and security in school are other major issues for education.
It can be illustrated by the example of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way to school for addressing the education rights. This also demonstrates another problem that young girls face: the unsafe roads leading to their school, sexual violence and discrimination against young girls.
Many girls are not allowed to continue their education because they are forced into child marriage.
Among the numerous obstacles that stand in the way of young girls and women to benefit from education are:
- minority status
- geographical isolation
- gender-based violence
- early marriage
- traditional attitudes towards the status and role of women.
What is the result of gender inequality in education?
One of the major issues that gender inequality in education brings to the surface is unemployment. Even to these days, women enter the job market on an unequal basis compared to men. They have fewer rights to land ownership and opportunities outside the agricultural sector.
Globally, just one quarter of senior officials or managers are women and they have less financial and social security. Despite that fact that women produce 50% of food and perform 66% of the world’s work, they typically are paid less than men.
Whey own only 1% of the property and earn 10% of the income. It has been shown that women invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities compared to men.
What are the benefits of educating girls?
There are numerous benefits of educating girls. Educated women are more likely to take care of themselves and their family independently. Moreover, in rural regions educated women are more likely to take part in decision-making processes.
Above all, education empowers, gives women better economic opportunities and encourages them to control their lives themselves. In this way, women are inspired to impact society positively.
The good news is that women’s political participation has increased and now they make up 18.6 percent of parliamentarians.
“Teaching as Women’s Domain and Leading as Men’s”
In spite of the progress, more girls remain out of school than boys. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 16 million girls will never have the opportunity to be educated. By the way, women account approximately two-thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills.
Even though teaching is traditionally considered female profession, school leaders are more likely to be men in some countries.
To illustrate, 68% of Korean teachers are women, whereas, only 13% of Korean principals are female. But why don’t women occupy the position of a school leader more often, given the fact that they dominate the majority of the teaching force?
Some of the main factors that determine the number of female principals in a country are the individual willingness to take the role of principal, the education level of candidates and gender-bias in perceptions of leadership skills.
The fact that most school teachers in many countries are women often brings forward the stereotypes that caring for children is women’s task. Equally, having mainly male principals shows that men are more likely to become managers than women. These factors have implications for the aspirations and expectations of children.
It is noteworthy that gender discrimination in career choice results in talent loss not just in education, but also in all spheres. Researchers suggest that gender-diverse business teams have greater success in terms of profits than male-dominated companies.
What initiatives can be taken to fight gender inequality in education?
Gender equality should not necessarily mean that men and women should become the same. It rather means that people’s opportunities should not depend on their gender.
Just imagine the world with more male teachers and healthcare workers and more female computer scientists. Doesn’t that sound good? After all, education should play an important role in shaping attitudes and behaviors to develop gender equity.
Educating girls results in many socio-economic benefits that help entire societies. These are higher family incomes, increased economic productivity and improved health rates for children.
The history of women’s subordination and injustice noted in every corner of the world proves that it is important that the voices and perspectives of women are considered.
The concept of gender equality includes the right of women to articulate, review and comment on social arrangements. The role of evaluating gender equality in education is to promote progress towards reducing all forms of gender-based discrimination and assuring women are empowered to exercise their rights.
The problem of gender inequality in education system of India
Out of 12 million children deprived of education in India, a disproportionate number are girls. This inequality in education is more pronounced among families that have lower-income.
During 2006 and 2010, only 26 % of girls completed secondary education, whereas boys comprised nearly 50 %.
The inequality between genders is clearly visible in literacy rates of India. Approximately 82 % of boys are literate but only 65 % of girls can read and write. Even though this number is steadily increasing, there is still a long way to go.
According to some reports, major issues that cause discrimination against girls in India are poverty and cultural beliefs.
Another major factor behind gender inequality in education is the lack of sanitation in schools in the country. You won’t be able to find separate toilet facilities for girls in many schools. This becomes a major problem when they reach adolescence. As a matter of consequence, many girls just choose to leave schooling.
Recognizing the need to address this issue, the UN placed both quality education and gender equality in its list of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As has been demonstrated, mixing these two objectives results in the increase in more work opportunities and reduced poverty. Clearly, ensuring girls the same level of education as boys can change the world for the better on a fundamental level.
Furthermore, basic education for women is vital for protecting the environment. Some researchers suggest that women express more concern for the environment compared to men.
Countries with more women in parliament are more likely to approve environmental settlements. Education can provide individuals with knowledge and skills that will help to understand environmental issues and help overcome them. Equal representation in decision-making and leadership can advance environmental preservation and improve risk management.
Therefore, we can conclude that until men and women have equal opportunity to participate in public life and have the same level of education, we will not be living in a sustainable and fair world for all.
A special shout-out to those men who are active supporters of gender equality. They are important role models for boys and other men. Guaranteeing representative leadership and fair participation in all areas of life is crucial for sustainable development. People must become change agents to assure that a fairer and more stabilized world can be achieved for the next generations.
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