Friday, October 2, 2009

One Girl at a Time

There are more than 2700 languages in the world

I’ve taken the ability to read and write for granted -- the benefits it affords me are immeasurable… but in the back of my mind lurks a number – 33%. Nearly one out of every three girls and women in the world cannot read and write. After hearing Tererai Trent’s phenomenal story, I was again reminded of the number. As a girl living in Zimbabwe, Tererai was denied an education and married off at 11 – sadly not an uncommon fate. But Terarai had a passionate desire to pursue an education, and she wrote her dreams of attaining a PhD on a piece of paper and buried it in a tin box. And in the end she did. Her story has been told in the book HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

I’ve always know that when you educate girls, you improve the prospects of an entire community – fertility rates drop and women have fewer, healthier children; infant mortality rates decline as knowledgeable women have better healthcare practices; maternal mortality rates are reduced as women have fewer children and pursue pre and post natal care; increased participation in the labor force yields benefits for the society at large; educated women are more likely to send their children to school; education is also protection against HIV/AIDS infection. So education is not only the key to a brighter future, it is also a key to survival.

Sadly, we have a lot to do to increase educational opportunities for boys, and especially girls. Although the worldwide number of children not in school has declined from about 100 million to 75 million, girls still constitute 55% of all out-of-school children. Worldwide, for every 100 boys out-of-school there are 122 girls. In some countries the gender gap is much wider. For example, for every 100 boys out of school in Yemen there are 270 girls, in Iraq 316 girls, in India 426 girls, and in Benin 257 girls (UNESCO GMR, 2007).

So, when you educate a girl, the benefits are passed forward and multiplied to the nth degree – let us all hope for millions of Terarais in the future. Check out Half the Sky Movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment