A mother is a powerful woman. She shapes her household. She teaches her children values and beliefs. She helps form their dreams. When I think of my mother, I think of a strong educated woman who knows about the world. She taught me to dream and to love to learn.
However, there are children who will not be as fortunate as me. They will have mothers without a hope, without a dream, and without an education. In the 21st century, there are still 62 million girls who lack education around the world. These girls are destined for childhood marriages, early pregnancy, low paying jobs, and poverty. They’ll go on to have children who they cannot support. They will need to rely on their children from a young age to work to support the family. And so the cycle continues. Being too busy to stay alive, these children will miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime: to educate themselves and escape the life they’re inevitably destined for.
In the United States we take our education for granted. Students sleep through class, feign sickness to sick school, and squander the education their ancestors had fought so hard to give them. Meanwhile there are girls around the world who don’t just want to learn, they need to learn. It’s the only way out of the vicious cycle they’ve been swallowed up in. However, they are the ones who lack the very thing they desire the most.
Finally, the Peace Corps and the UN are taking direct action to fix this wrong. 774 million people around the world would stare at this article and see nothing more than dots and squiggles. Of these illiterate individuals, 2/3rds of them are female. The lack of female education has been an issue discussed by the UN since the UN first implemented their millennium goals.
Did you know that?
- 62 million girls are not being educated around the world
- Half of those girls lack primary school education
- Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia each have over three million girls out of school
March 2015 marked the start of a new addition to the Peace Corps: Let Girls Learn. Let Girls Learn was started by Michelle Obama to help educate young girls around the world. The program is based on three pillars: empowering leaders, working hand in hand with communities, and increasing Peace Corps volunteer impact. So far, this program is being implemented in Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Thailand, Togo, and Uganda.
“I see myself in these girls, I see my daughters in these girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them.” – Michelle Obama
What are the effects of education?
According to UNESCO, education would reduce the number of maternal deaths by 2/3rds, saving 98,000 lives. Education also helps to decrease child malnutrition, adolescent pregnancy, the gender pay gap, and the number of child deaths. It lessens the amount of early marriage and, consequently, births.
The worst countries for female education are Somalia, Niger, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Pakistan Yemen, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire, ranging from 52% to 95% of poorest females who have never been to school.
Each extra year of education has the ability to increase a girl’s salary by 20%. Females with education not only receive better jobs, but also better salaries and a better way of life. These improvements do not just benefit the women alone. Countries with educated women are typically better off economically, politically, and socially for both women and men.
What can I do to help?
Just as the Peace Corps fights to educate these girls all over the world, the Let Girls Learn initiative fights just as hard to educate you! Let Girls Learn could not work without awareness. That’s why in addition to the Let Girls Learn initiative, they also have the Girl Rising program, which offers both the ability to donate money to support female education and to host a screening of a movie centered on global female empowerment.
Michelle Obama may have started the movement, but she can’t do it alone. As the old adage says, it takes a village to raise [educate] a child. Become the village. Become the change.