The Importance of Educating Girls
Research has made it clear that educating girls is a highly effective way to combat many social issues. Despite this, UNESCO estimates that 129 million girls worldwide are without schooling. More than 40% of girls aged between 15-18 were not attending school in India in 2020. As the the pandemic shut down schools across India, many young women who had been receiving education where married off or sent to work making this figure even higher now.
Barriers to Girls’ Education
In comparison to their male counterparts, girls face more barriers to education. The most common barriers include poverty, cultural traditions, and violence. The prevalence of gender-based violence is a major obstacle for many girls seeking education in India. Girls are sexually assaulted on their way to, or whilst attending school. This endangers their mental and physical health leading to lower attendance and higher drop-our rates. If a girl becomes pregnant she often faces discrimination and cultural stigma which also increases drop-out rates.
Another major obstacle is the deeply ingrained social norm of child marriage. India has the highest number of child brides in the world with almost 16% of girls between 15-19 years of age currently married. Girls who are forced into early marriages are unlikely to complete school and more likely to bear children at a young age and die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. UNICEF estimates that at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India each year.
Advantages of Educating Girls
Educating girls is instrumental in reducing poverty and strengthening economies. Education and vocational training allows women to become financially independent and therefore to have more control over their own lives and their relationships and to contribute to the community.
They are less likely to become child brides and teenage mothers, or to suffer domestic violence. In essence, educated girls live longer and lead healthier lives.
We know how important education can be which is why it is major component of our aftercare program at New Horizons House. Many of our girls were forced to leave school to work as prostitutes, suffered sexual abuse whilst travelling to school or at the hands of school teachers, and experienced child pregnancy.
We support our girls’ classroom education, provide vocational training, teach them marketable skills, and endow them with basic knowledge about nutrition and hygiene. Our goal is to empower girls so that they can realize their economic potential and lead healthy, productive and dignified lives. Visit our website page to learn more about our aftercare program.