“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”– Nelson Mandela
The effects of educating a girl are powerful beyond measure. When a girl is educated, she becomes a force for change—change that benefits both herself and her family. An educated girl has the capacity to end the cycles of poverty, hunger, poor health, and illiteracy for future generations. Through access to good quality education, a girl is empowered to be an active participant in the social, economic, and political sectors of her community, thus stimulating development and economic growth within her local community and to an even greater extent— her country. Therefore it is crucial that girls everywhere be given the opportunity to learn, develop, and reach their full potential in order to achieve global development.
Today millions of girls worldwide continue to be excluded from secondary, higher, and continuing education. Despite the efforts made through the World Education Forum (Dakar, 2000) Education for All goals, more than 50 percent of all children not in school are girls. Barriers that block a girl’s path to education include: a) poverty and being unable to afford the costs of attending school, b) the lack of girl-friendly infrastructure such as private bathrooms and changing rooms, c) having to walk long distances to reach school, and d) cultural beliefs that do not see the value in educating a girl. Governments, communities, and families therefore need to work together to ensure that these barriers are broken.
Girls must be given the opportunity to receive an education. Yet access alone to education is not enough. It is imperative that girls are able to obtain an education that will enable them to reach their full potential by teaching them to be innovative, self-learners and critical thinkers who are able to overcome challenges and persevere.
We must educate the girl child to prepare her for the demands of tomorrow. We must teach her to be a confident, bold, inspiring, decision-maker. In educating a girl we are teaching her to know her rights and to advocate for them. The effects of educating a girl are indeed powerful beyond measure: educate a girl, inspire creativity within her and she will be the cause for change.
Happy International Day of the Girl Child!
Kim Addison IFUW