When we look at some of the important areas where we can work towards the empowerment of women, education stands as top priority. If international conferences on empowerment of women are anything to go by, education is by far the most critical of aspects to be examined. While we take Nigeria as our primary example, the truth is in fact widespread internationally. Of the children not attending school, girls seem to be in higher numbers than boys. This naturally translates to a higher number of women being illiterate, compared to men. Providing girls with basic education is a simple assurance of giving them greater personal power and independence. They will be able to make better choices for themselves than depend on those around them for the same. This ability must not be a luxury for them but rather a necessity.
Going by just the fact that we will have happy and healthy women with such a move should be motivation enough for us to promote women’s education. If we look at the bigger picture, an educated woman may also contribute to society in several ways with her skills and confidence. Her efficiency as a parent, worker and a citizen of her country are greatly improved. Educated women are likely to postpone marriage to an age when they are well prepared mentally and materially as well. There are numerous studies that show how each additional year of schooling brings down fertility rates by a significant percentage. In our country alone, infant mortality rates among primary level schooled mothers are half of what they when compared to illiterate mothers.
Studies also show how women get more productive at work and thus command a better pay scale. International studies show that every additional year of schooling increases a woman’s earning capacity by 15%. For a man, this figure stands at only 11%. There is a lot that can be done to improve on the quality of education as well as the avenues and opportunities for a woman. Here is what we as a nation can do:
1. Get more parents involved: A family and community will need to work together to understand the importance of female education and provide them opportunities for the same.
2. Support girls and women in crisis: Millions of girls are subjected to abuse, child labor, sex trafficking, child marriage, and other offenses. Your gift will go where it’s needed most, protecting girls and women by equipping skilled, local staff to offer training, education, counseling, medical care, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls as well as boys — helping to end cycles of gender-based violence.
3. Schools in the vicinity: Parents worry about child safety. Having schools close by and having female instructors will be of great help. The One Foundation works towards empowering the girl children by promoting education among the under-privileged. This is done through donations as well as collaborations with schools that may need help.