Gender Equality And Women In Education

Bridge Liberia is empowering a new generation of confident, successful girls. If you’re an 11-year-old girl living in one of the world’s most marginalised communities, you face less access to education than your brother, a greater likelihood of economic and social marginalisation, the prospect of forced marriage, early pregnancy, and increased maternal mortality. Being a young girl in many communities can be the most difficult hand to be dealt.

Educated girls are healthier, have the skills to make choices about their own future and can lift themselves, their community and even their county out of poverty. For instance, a percentage point increase in girls’ education boosts GDP by 0.3 percentage points and raises annual GDP growth rates by 0.2 percentage points. Again, one extra year of education for girls increases their wages by between 10-20%. By educating girls we change the future of entire communities as women reinvest 90% of their income in their families, as opposed to 30-40% for men.

Bridge Liberia significantly improves learning outcomes for girls. Historically, in Liberia  the poorest boy reader was scoring higher than the best girl reader. As a result of the Ministry of Education programme in Bridge Liberia’s supported schools, 5th grade girls’ average performance on reading fluency increased by over 27 words per minute. Once lagging by 10 words per minute, girls now outperform boys.

Mainstreaming women empowerment principles

On Wednesday, July 8, 2020, Liberia was greeted with the sad news of the passing of Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood, Montserrado County District District 9 lawmaker of the governing party. Born September 22, 1983, the late Munah became one of the youngest lawmakers ever in the country’s history when she won her first term in 2011, a feat she repeated in the heavily contested district in 2017. She was an inspiration to women and girls and her influence straddled politics, entertainment, and education. In a heavily male-dominated legislature, Madam Youngblood’s passing is indeed a great loss for women, and this article could not be written without eulogizing her.

 

The improvement of education across the board is one of the most important factors in driving gender equity. World Bank and UNESCO Liberian data shows almost an equal ratio of males to females in our primary school enrolment. However, we look at the women in our lives and communities and know that it is not enough. If gender equity must be achieved to the fullest, then we must empower women and demand that all organisations in our society focus on doing so.

The United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles is a good way to show our focus. Formulated by the UN Global Compact and UN Women, the “Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are a set of Principles offering guidance to organisations on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.” The UN WEPs “are informed by international labour and human rights standards and grounded in the recognition that organisations have a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment.” This should be automatically embedded into all organisations and societal cultures but until it is, the principles offer a good guide.

Promoting gender equality in education

Gender equality in schools

Equality of educational opportunity and accountability

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