For this blog post, I would like to take a step back from the details of American educational policy and look at education on a human rights scale, specifically the importance of educating women. For me, and I’m sure most of my peers, having the chance to go to school was not a consideration. Unfortunately, not all women are offered a chance at education like we are in the US. Instead of worrying about whether simply going to school would be possible, we were focused on what school we would attend and what high level classes would we take to make it to our seemingly unattested chance to attend a university. In many countries around the world, women are simply not offered this chance. And if they somehow do get the rare chance to be educated, it is often at the cost of going against their family, selling their bodies, or only for a limited time.
At my high school, there was a very active club called WISER (Women’s Institute of Secondary Education and Research). It is an organization that sponsors a school in Kenya that gives girls the opportunity and resources to go to school. WISER prides itself on offering scholarships, food, medicine, high quality teachers, and other materials that are necessary for school-age kids. Throughout high school, we had several representatives from WISER come speak to us about what the organization was and the incredible impact they were making in Kenya. My school hosted several benefit nights to raise funds and awareness for this cause, and it left me with a deep passion for this very deserving cause.
WISER, and many other organizations with similar missions, are helping a cause that I think could be the key to the future. They are founded on the idea that educating women helps everyone involved, not just the students. The research that has been collected in underdeveloped countries, like Kenya, on the benefits of education women show the significant value that educated women can bring to a community. The WISER website says, “a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past age 5” and “educated women and girls reinvest 90% of their income into their families, compared to 30% for men”. Additionally, educated women are less likely to contract HIV and their time spent in school pushes back marriage and ultimately pregnancy.
So with this research supporting the benefits of educating women and the freedoms and opportunities that we have here in the US, how is it that in 2015, women around the world are still not given equal opportunities at gaining an education?? As something that we take completely for granted, I cannot imagine what it would be like to live without basic reading and math skills – especially while raising several children at a very young age. Or what it would be like to arrive at school, only to learn that you would be raped daily in order to continue your education? I hope that in the midst of studying an education system that seems to make no sense, we can take a moment to appreciate the simple opportunity to even have the exposure and resources to get an education.
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