“If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. It’s an often heard quote in development circles, and the eve of the opening of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly is a good time to pause and consider what it really means.
We know that educating boys and girls, men and women, is morally right. But educating girls and women is especially effective because when we educate them, the benefits are felt throughout the whole community. It’s a magic multiplier in the development equation.
The positive relationship between female education and overall development outcomes is well established. However, it is the dynamic that underpins that correlation which merits drawing out.
An educated woman is better able to educate her own children who, in turn, will be more likely to receive school education themselves. The family will likely be healthier, with a lower prospect of infant mortality and better maternal nutrition, including while pregnant and nursing.
An educated woman’s household is more likely to prosper as a result of a higher overall income. Just one extra year of secondary education can increase a woman’s income as much as 25% a year. By participating in the labour market, an educated woman helps boost economic productivity, leading to greater wealth for her community as well.
It is an attractive proposition: invest in women and girls, and the benefits flow not only to them but everyone around them, too. Sadly, the reverse is also true. Deny girls and women education and the whole community suffers, not just them as individuals.
Tragically, over 60m girls remain out of school around the world. Even where significant progress has been made to get girls into school, they are often deprived strong groundings in the education essentials of literacy and numeracy. This has a negative compound effect, making it hard for them to progress beyond primary school even where such opportunities are available.
Not only the human but also the economic cost of this educational deprivation of girls and women is huge, and the cost to individual economies can be as high as $1bn a year. Plan’s Children in Focus report puts the global economic price of failing to educate girls to the same level as boys at $92bn each year. To put this in perspective, that figure falls just short of the combined annual overseas aid budgets of the world’s developed countries.
The world cannot afford this any longer. We must commit to giving girls an education, girls who are not presently receiving one, and also commit to give those girls who are receiving one, the opportunity to progress to and complete their secondary education.
Getting girls enrolled in and completing primary school is the threshold task, followed by the even greater challenge of ensuring girls’ secondary education. Women with a sound education will not only earn more themselves, they will contribute more to their household and national economies. They will also be less likely to fall victim to the scourge of human trafficking and forced child marriages, and be better able to protect themselves from contracting preventable diseases like HIV.
Under the aegis of the Clinton Global Initiative, Girls CHARGE
was launched with the purpose of raising the global ambition for girls’ education. Spearheaded by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution and Hillary Clinton’s No Ceilings Initiative, these issues will be addressed directly, by raising global ambitions for girls to attend school and complete secondary education, acquiring the skills they need for work and life.
We both grew up in Australia. Education provided strong foundations for both of us to stride different stages with confidence: one of us becoming Australia’s first female prime minister, the other a leading player in some of the major theatre and film productions of the world. Without a great education, these achievements would simply have not been possible. Millions of girls throughout the world are today denied the opportunity to meet their full potential. This is not a situation any thinking or feeling person can stand by and tolerate.
As the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly begins, we urge the world’s leaders to back this major push to tackle the unfinished business of giving girls a great education. Those of us who have benefitted so much from our educations should feel powerfully obliged to do so. It’s what every girl and every community deserves, and it is in our hands to deliver.
Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th prime minister, is a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for Universal Education. Cate Blanchett is a veteran actress of stage and screen and former co-artistic director and co-CEO of Sydney Theatre Company
“ I ask you all so earnestly to open girl’s schools in every village and try to uplift them. If the Conditions of women are raised, then their children will, by their noble actions, glorify the name of the Country. “ —Swami Vivekananda
Today’s girl child will be the mother of tomorrow. As a mother she can give her child a sound nursing and capable upbringing. A woman has the maximum impact on the social, economical decisions making in the family generally. At micro level, educated woman help in making the whole family including the older family members, understand the values and importance of education, and at macro level, educated women add to the social and economical development of the nation.
Girls education is like sowing the seed which gives rise to green, cheerful and full grown family plant. In ancient time girl’s education had a significant place in the society. Gargi and Maitreyi played very encouraging role in spreading the education to a great extent.
Women’s social conditions started deteriorating with the passage of time. Instead of giving them education, they are being subjected to sufferings under Purdah System, Child marriage. In some states female infanticide is prevalent even today. A new culture of elimination of female foetus has gradually become rampant discrimination between the education of girl and boy is common in rural areas. Parents feel that the education of girls is a wastage as they will go to their husbands after marriage and more dowry have to be paid for a more educated girl. The poverty and illiteracy among the people is also big reason for not sending the girls to schools and colleges. But things are being changed, though slowly, but gradually.
The various awakening programmes launched by the government for encouraging the girls education, the introduction of TV’s in rural areas, the 33% reservation given to females in Panchayats, have played positive role in this direction. Now the important of educating the girls is being felt. Several other policies, like 30% reservation to women candidates in services, enhanced subsidy to girls entrepreneurs, various self employment schemes launched for the benefits of women like Women Entrepreneur Development Programme, Self Help Groups of women have resulted in mobilizing and directing the parents to get their daughters educated. The educated women can help in eradicating many social evils prevalent in the society, like Dowry, killing the female foetus, discrimination in the matter of education of the girls , illiteracy and so on. Many programmes of the government like population control, polio eradication, programmes relating to the development of the rural area in which the cooperation and coordination of the rural masses are necessary, can well be taken care by the women representatives of the Panchayats. If these representatives are educated the implementation of the programs will be a grand success. Education gives effectiveness and confidence to the women.
Undoubtedly true that girl’s education stimulates educational consciousness and civic sense among the family members. She can teach the family members more comfortably than anyone else. Illiteracy is the cause of many ills. The present day corruption in the bureaucracy particularly in the implementation of the schemes for the development of the rural segment to a large extent is because of the ignorance and illiteracy among the rural representatives. A woman influences the activities and decisions of family than anyone else. The educated girl can shoulder any kind of responsibility. See the example of Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi, Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharati, and so .. , everyone has earned a name in the society in our country. For the success of a person whether man or woman, education plays an important role. Education for the girls is more important as she not only builds the home but all routine responsibilities are taken care of by her. An educated woman not only helps in nourishing the family in a better way but can also help in earning. Rightly said that God made the mother because He could not be present every where. “One could judge the degree of civilization of a country by the social and political position of its women” -Charles Fourier
Education for a girl child means making the next generation well educated, full of virtues, free from the useless superstitions, confident and capable to do something good for the family, for the society and for the country as a whole. The present day girl is the mother of tomorrow. “Give me good mothers and I will give you a great nation” -Napoleon
She is the most crucial and reverend entity. She must be given all the necessary education. Ignoring her, keeping her illiterate means we are creating an illiterate and ignorant generation. So it is perfectly true that educating a girl child means educating a family.Development cannot be accelerated unless girls are given right education in right direction. Swami Vivekananda has rightly said, “Educate your women first and leave them to themselves, then they will tell you what reforms are needed.”