by David E. Bloom and Mark Weston
August 25, 2003
Girls’ education is emerging as one of the top priorities of the international development community. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that “educating girls is not an option, it is a necessity,” and the 189 countries that signed up for the Education for All (EFA) initiative in 2000 showed their support by pledging to eliminate gender disparities in education by 2005.
Much progress has been made in recent decades. The number of girls attending school, even in the poorest countries, has grown rapidly in the past 50 years. High-income countries have achieved full equality of access to education, and in the developing regions of Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East, almost as many girls as boys now attend school.
In some developing regions, however, millions of girls still receive little or no education. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are far from meeting the EFA target, and progress in Central Asia has slowed in the last decade. Of the more than one hundred million children in the world without access to primary schooling, 60 percent are girls, and in countries like Afghanistan, Niger, Nepal, and Yemen, female literacy is less than half that of males.
These disparities hurt not just girls themselves, but also their families and the societies in which they live. Girls suffer because they miss out on opportunities to socialize, acquire knowledge, and gain the skills and sense of autonomy needed to improve their personal well-being and their lot in life. Each additional year of schooling tends to increase an individual’s earnings by more than 15 percent, and education also improves women’s health and gives them a greater say in how their lives are conducted.
Families suffer, too, if girls are not educated. Mothers with education use the knowledge they have acquired to improve the health of their children and other family members. In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa children whose mothers have received secondary schooling are twice as likely to be immunized against major disease as those whose mothers had not been to school. Educated mothers provide better nutrition to their children, too, and their knowledge of health risks protects their families against illness and promotes health-seeking behavior more generally. As a consequence, child mortality rates are much higher in families where the mother lacks education than in families where both parents have attended school. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, children whose mothers have more than seven years of schooling have less than half the under-5 mortality rate of the children of uneducated mothers.
The benefits to societies are also great. Girls’ education is now recognized as a cornerstone of development. Educated mothers invest more in their children’s schooling, thus improving both families’ and societies’ development prospects. They are also likely to have fewer children. For example, in Brazil, women with a secondary education have an average of 2.5 children, whereas illiterate women have an average of 6.5 children. Having fewer children allows families to invest more in the health and education of each child, thereby raising the productivity of future generations.
Of course, leaving women uneducated dramatically reduces the productive capacity of present generations too. Economies that fail to make use of the skills of half their potential workforce are at a huge disadvantage relative to those where everyone is contributing to the best of their ability. World Bank economists David Dollar and Roberta Gatti have studied the effect of girls’ education on economies. The return on investment in girls’ education, they find, is not lower than the return for boys and, particularly in lower-middle-income countries, is often significantly higher. Dollar and Gatti conclude that economies “that have a preference for not investing in girls pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income.”
Why, then, have some countries failed to close the gap? The main causes are cultural and economic. Schools in some developing countries are insensitive to girls’ needs. Verbal and physical abuse, a lack of sanitation, and long distances between home and school can all make schooling a hazardous experience and deter parents from sending their daughters to school. Certain cultural practices also make sending girls to school less desirable. In many societies, girls are not expected to make economic contributions to their families. Instead, they are expected to care for family members and carry out household chores, tasks for which education is not seen as necessary. Moreover, girls are seen as relatively transitory assets — not worthy of long-term investment — as they leave their parents’ household upon marriage. A vicious cycle is thereby created: Girls are believed to be less worthy of education so they receive less, which diminishes women’s prospects of closing the gap on men in the future.
Even where families are willing to invest in their daughters’ schooling, discrimination in the labor market can make investing in boys before girls a rational economic decision. In developing countries, women earn less than men even if they have the same education and experience, so the economic returns to individuals mean that boys’ schooling is inevitably seen as a better investment. The disparity is magnified by the fact that women tend to have less access to financial capital and less secure claims to financial capital and other assets than men. This perspective does not, of course, take into account the social benefits of girls’ education, but economic gains are a powerful driver of family decisions, particularly in poorer societies.
Promoting girls’ education, therefore, involves changing attitudes across society as well as spending money on increasing the number of school places available to girls. Donors providing funding for education can help by insisting that their funds are used to educate girls as well as boys. New means of engaging policy makers — perhaps through a bottom-up approach, where pressure is applied by civil society, or through better use of evidence to show the benefits of girls’ schooling — may also reap rewards. Religious leaders also need convincing, as do men in general, who are usually the main decision makers within households. Changing cultural attitudes toward women is a slow and difficult process. In those nations that have succeeded, such changes have typically required strong political leadership.
Businesses, too, need to change their ways by providing opportunities to women, since they are likely to benefit from access to both a deeper pool of well-trained labor and the skills and knowledge women bring to a task. The World Bank has found that gender-biased hiring and pay practices are more common in firms that have little or no competition, but as economies open up, employment prospects for women should improve and justify investment in their education.
Even if governments and businesses are persuaded, however, reforming education systems to increase girls’ attendance is no easy task. Those countries with the greatest disparities in access to education, like Afghanistan, India, Ethiopia, and Yemen, are among the poorest countries in the world. Building new schools, improving sanitation in existing schools, reducing costs so that schooling is more affordable for families, and convincing families of the value of girls’ schooling require significant resources. For resource-strapped governments, many of these tasks are out of reach.
In such circumstances, a focus on the bare necessities is likely to pay dividends, and the critical factor in determining whether attending school is a rewarding experience is the quality of teaching. A good education can be delivered without buildings, uniforms, or even books, but it cannot be achieved without good teachers. Training and attracting women teachers should be a high priority for poor countries attempting to educate girls. Women teachers make families more comfortable about sending their daughters to school, and they are more sensitive to girls’ needs. Many developing countries already have high ratios of women to male teachers, but the historic neglect of girls’ education means that many of these women are poorly trained themselves.
Those countries that have lagged in promoting girls’ education have also lagged developmentally. It is expensive — both politically and financially — to eliminate gender gaps in school enrolment. But if developing countries wish to improve their living standards and catch up with the industrialized world, not educating one’s girls to the same extent as boys will surely prove even more expensive.
David Bloom is Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard University. He is also a co-principal investigator of an American Academy of Arts and Sciences project on universal basic and secondary education (UBASE). This project has assembled a task force to examine the rationale, means, and consequences of providing a quality education to all the world’s children at the primary and secondary levels. Mark Weston researches and writes on issues of international development, mainly in the areas of governance, health, and education, for a variety of organizations.
Tags:Benin, Brazil, education, India, Japan, Kenya, Romania
In India nowadays you will see that women are working together with men in every field. This is happening because of the women education. It is important for the developing the India from the developing India to developed India. Women are the strength of the nation. In each and every field you can see the women working in high post. Now, women are not only meant for the caring the house, She crosses her limit and achieves her goals. Education is the one of the basic need for the men as well as the women because of it one should aware of the current situation and handles the problems. Here we are providing an essay on the women education which will benefit the students as well as kids.
In past years of India in the history, men having the higher literacy rate than the women. In the time of British Raj to India’s independence, the percentage of literate women was only 2-6% of the total female population.After the establishment of the Republic of India, government initiate the great importance to women’s education.
Factors that holding women from going school
A few years ago, women were considered for the handling the kitchen and children. If women were educated then there was a misunderstanding that she would extinct the system of the Hindu family. The other reason is ego which is mostly carried by men if women are highly educated than men then the ego of men was hurt. In some areas because of poverty parents don’t allow their kids for education.
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his fellow wife Savitribai Phule contributed their efforts for the women education. Jyotiba Phule and Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar were the leaders of the lower caste who took the initiatives for the women education. These social reformers are fought against the educational system and supported for the equality of the education for women. They fought for the women rights and successful in it.
Advantages if women are educated
The girl as an individual
Education gives the self-confidence, self-esteem for girls and they can discover their own potential and came up with new ideas and innovation and increase their resistance to gender discrimination. She can able to take her decisions indecently. Educated women are independent.
The family gets more benefits if the women are educated. If a woman is educated then entire home is educated. She got knowledge through the education which she can apply for the better childcare means proper vaccination, schooling of a child, etc. The child malnutrition was decreased between 1970 and 1995 because of the female education. Educated women can increase family income and status of the family and able to solve the family problems.
The community and society
The community and society become more prosperous because of the women education play an important role to find the solutions to problems that related to social stability. A result of women’s education is increasing in Survival rates, schooling and community productivity with a decrease in mother and infant mortality rates.
Educated woman can play an important role towards nation by facing economic challenges such as in the areas of agricultural production, food self-sufficiency, the fight against environmental degradation the use and conservation of water and energy.
Examples of Successful Women
India’s first woman who joins officer ranks of the Indian Police Service. She was born on 9th June 1949. She is a retired Indian Police Service officer, social activist, former tennis player and politician. She served her service for the nation 35 years of her life. She is awarded by the many awards such as United Nations Medal in 2004, Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 and President’s Police Medal in 1979. She also contributed her part in Anti-corruption movement in October 2010 with Arvind Kejriwal.
Kalpana Chawala was Indian astronaut and the First Indian Woman in Space. In 1997 she first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. She died in Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003. The Congressional Space Medal of Honor is recipient to her.
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil
The first lady President of India is Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil who was born on December 19, 1934, in Nadgaon village in Maharashtra. She obtained her Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics from the Mooljee Jetha College, Jalgaon. From the Government Law College, she received the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in Mumbai.
Madhuri Dixit is an Indian actress who is famous for her works in Indian cinema. She has praised for her acting and dancing skills, she is also the queen of expressions. She received six Filmfare Awards for the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The Government of India awarded her India’s fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri in 2008.
Sania Mirza is ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings. She is an Indian professional tennis player. She is one of the highest-paid and high-profile athletes in the country and successful female Indian tennis player ever.
Lata Mangeshkar is an Indian playback singer who born 28 September 1929. She sang songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and for a thousand Hindi films. She is most respected playback singers in India. She awarded by Bharat Ratna award which is the India’s highest civilian honour award.
The education is the ladder of the success and development of our nation. Women education is important for the development of each house as well as for the development of the nation and economy. Girls are like the sunshine for our economy that bright our future. By educating the girls, we are empowering the nation. Education is a weapon which has the capacity to change the world. So Let’s Educate Women and empower the India. Women are the beauty of the nation which not only one who handles the house but also proves herself by educating and achieving success in her life.