There are 62 Million girls around the world who are not in school. Think of that for a moment. In this country we take education as a right, something a lot of us take for granted. We believe that all should have access to preschool through high school. There are many of us who believe college should be included in that matrix. Yet world-wide there are 62 million girls who have no access to education. They are illiterate, uneducated and financially dependent on others. Education is a known factor in advancement yet is denied to young woman around the world. Sometimes through circumstance, most often by men who fear the change women challenge the world to undertake.
A girl without access to reading, writing and arithmetic is more likely to end up in an abusive relationship, motherhood before she is emotionally ready and in poverty. Want to stop terrorism? Educate the poor, the disenfranchised and the children of the world. Let them understand that the world is more what they see out their window. Malala proved that one girl’s education can give voice to a movement of change. Once their minds are awoken, young women’s voices cannot be silenced. They become mothers who will impart the importance of education to their offspring.
With access to education, young women across the globe will affect change. This is not just women in underdeveloped countries, but here at home. According to PEW Research only 63% of US high school women go on to secondary education. Some of the 37% decide not to go further because they go into trade, the military or for whatever reason decide not to go to college. I am willing to bet that out of the 37% of high school girls do not go to college due to circumstance. Looking at colleges is not a financial undertaking most of us can afford nor have the credit rating to achieve. If your parent did not go to college, you are less likely to see the value a college education can be to your life. Children of lower-income single-mothers are less likely to have the opportunities for higher education. A recent study showed that 100% of former welfare recipients that receive a four-year degree and 82% of welfare recipients who received a 2-year degree stopped relying on welfare support.
In 2013 our country had 10.9 million school age children living in poverty. Unsurprisingly, 40% of US children living in poverty are unprepared for school. A staggering 31% of US children without a high school diploma will continue to live in poverty. Compared to just 20 years ago, the rate of children living in poverty has increased and the gap of income inequality continues to grow. Their children will repeat the cycle, unless change is made and education becomes a priority.
Education breeds personal power. If we want to see more women CEOs, leaders and Heads of State we need to educate them. Not in our own backyard, but in every back yard. I do not want women to overtake men; I want women to work alongside them. Equal partners effecting real change to leave this world a better place then we found it. Advances in science, economies, living conditions and education benefit all of society. We need to stand with the United Nation’s stance that education is a human right and a “driving force of human development”.
When our youth are educated homicides are decreased, crime is lessened, reduces infant mortality and teenage pregnancy. Famine and world hunger can be alleviated. Terrorism loses its footing when those being suppressed are educated on how to make their voices resonate across the lands.
The US Peace Corps is collaborating with USAID and the First Lady to work together in educating girls, one girl at a time, through grassroots efforts. Volunteers committed to teaching all children. They understand that with education comes change, and maybe peace. It’s time to get the facts and be clear: education should be a fundamental right of every child. To learn more about the initiative Let Girls Learn please visit their website at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/letgirlslearn