By Fazreen Razeek
“If you educate a man you educate an individual; however, if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation.” – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
We live in an increasingly globalized society, yet education continues to be a privilege in some parts of the world. While every child has the right to equal educational opportunities, current facts state otherwise. According to the United Nations, women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people.
In some countries, a girl’s education is often neglected. There’s a huge gender gap among schools, as most families send boys to school, and leave the girls at home. Other factors such as geographical location (urban/rural), educational status of parents, social status (caste and class), and age, contribute to illiteracy among women.
Education should be accessed by everyone, regardless of gender or other factors. Not only does it pave the way for better career opportunities, but it also enhances quality of life. Women are an important part of society, influencing and shining in all areas. Empowering women to be financially independent, free-thinking individuals is only possible through education.
But what is the role of education in women empowerment? Why is it essential in raising a bolder, and more confident generation of women?
Here are some of the reasons why:
In his article published in Forbes Magazine, Jack Zenger, author of leadership and success books, talked about the confidence gap in men and women and why it matters. He said:
“Gender differences in confidence are quite dramatic. A study done at Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both. In fact, their actual performance does not differ in quality or quantity.
This female confidence challenge was also described as the “imposter syndrome” by Pauline Claunce and Suzanne Imes. Women frequently express that they don’t feel they deserve their job and are “imposters” who could be found out at any moment. They found that women worry more about being disliked, appearing unattractive, outshining others, or grabbing too much attention.”
On a brighter note, he also noted Zenger Folkman’s research, which shows that as women’s experience [education, career experience] increases over time, so does their confidence.
Education brings about self-esteem and confidence, more than knowledge and skills they gain. Educated women can respond to challenges, confront their traditional roles, and eventually change their lives.
Women who are educated know their rights and know how to speak for themselves.
Encourages women’s active participation in society
Education promotes the active participation of women in society. Nowadays, more and more women are involved in educational policy and important decision-making processes.
A study by UNESCO on “Women, Education, and Empowerment – Pathway towards Autonomy” states that “it is critical that the women’s perspective be taken as the reference point for evaluating the effectiveness of educational policies, programmes and projects.”
Studies show that increase in the amount of female education in each region has a relevant socio-economic impact and is related to high levels of development. As women’s education increases, their income also increases and contributes to GDP growth.
It helps reduces poverty
According to the UN, gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty. Women and girls account for around 60% percent of ‘chronically hungry’ people around the world. Governments and societies have been making a collective effort to provide and promote equal opportunities for education.
Educated girls have better career opportunities. UN facts state that every additional year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10-12%. This is a major move towards reducing poverty.
There are four ways in which educating women can help reduce poverty:
Improving the Health of Mothers and Babies
Educated women tend to get married later and give birth to healthier babies. In Egypt, children of educated mothers live, compared uneducated mothers whose children are most likely to die. Thus, educating women tends to improve the health of mothers and babies around the world. Children who grow up without education increases their exposure to poverty.
Studies show that a woman who is educated earns 25% more than uneducated girls. Education opens doors for better career opportunities for women. This translates to economic growth and decrease in poverty.
Decreasing or Stopping the Cycle of Poverty
The cycle of poverty is passed on from one generation to another. This creates a community of poor people. Parents who are well-educated are open to better career opportunities and can provide better for their families. Women who are educated will also value education and learn how it can halt the cycle of poverty. These women will become mothers who will educate their children to avoid being in a state of poverty.
Investing in Communities
Women are the core of communities. Educating girls empowers women worldwide and helps them play a more active role in the community. Educated women can rise up to leadership and spearhead efforts in building the community, thus, alleviating poverty. This makes them better leaders and decision-makers
More informed decisions
An educated woman actively plays a role in directing her child’s life. They also tend to marry later and have fewer children, making them less prone to experiencing violence and poverty.
Studies have long proven that women’s education has long-term effects on a family’s well-being. Since women (rural women) were educated, the mortality rates of children less than 5 years old have significantly decreased since 1990.
Education is the key to unlocking the door of development. Women who are educated are empowered. More than literacy, education helps raise the quality of women’s rights, dignity, and security.
Fazreen Razeek from Edarabia.com has served the education industry for over 5 years. He collaborates and works alongside education-marketing agencies, event organizers, and educational Institutions ranging from nurseries, schools, and universities to develop and execute their marketing strategies. He is extremely passionate about education technology and also writes for various local and international publications. A graduate with High Distinction from the Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, Fazreen holds a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Marketing & Management.