Education Empowers Women Worldwide
By Pamela Henney (Lambda Chapter),
Alpha Delta State Legislative/UN Liaison
In this monthly blog, we hope to go deeper into some of the recent state and national legislation and United Nations’ activities. As “Leading Women Educators Impacting Education Worldwide,” DKG has a unique window on the world with our relationship with the UN, as well as a professional responsibility to awareness and participation in educational initiatives.
Our focus here comes out of our DKG history and purposes: We will look at the global challenge and impact of empowering females through education.
American values, laws, and practices equalize education. In the U.S., all children must be educated. All children have access to study any subjects. All children engage in STEM courses and activities. We can often overlook the educational challenges females face in other parts of the world.
Moving out of our comfort zone, 15 million young women around the globe do not have the choice or opportunity for even a primary level of education, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics. About 9 million of those young women live in African countries1.
In fact, in June, the United Nations Human Rights Council recommitted its support to education efforts: “Recognizing that education is a multiplier right that empowers women and girls to claim their human rights, including the right to participate in public life, as well as economic, social and cultural life, and to participate fully in the making of decisions that shape society”2.
The UN highlights the strong correlation between an entire community’s level of economic growth and poverty to its education. Although females face the most challenges to educational access, they tend to be more likely to complete primary education and more likely to seek secondary education.
This is key for communities around the world. A recent study by the UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring team reports that global poverty could be halved when all adults have completed secondary education3.
The impact and potential of education can include economic empowerment for women which, in turn, helps entire communities. For example, according to CNBC, some of the African nations struggling to provide or offer education for females, surprisingly, also rank top in percentage of female-owned businesses.
In fact, Uganda and Botswana rank first and second, respectively, much higher than the U.S. tenth rank4. Educated women make a tremendous contribution to the overall success of their countries’ economies.
Understanding this global impact of educating women in today’s unpredictable economic climate may offer economic forecasters hope. Ohio ranks only 8th in the country for percentage of female-owned businesses5. However, legislators are moving to connect education more strongly to the workforce and economy.
Although not directly targeting gendered education, several bills introduced this year do target areas of literacy and awareness concern for females, including:
■HB 108 requiring a half credit of financial literacy be added to the secondary curriculum
for all students,
■HB 110 expanding the College Credit Plus program to include apprenticeships for all
■HB 166/SB3 designating an In-Demand Jobs week to connect students with potential
career choices and educational plans, especially in high demand areas requiring
success in STEM courses, traditionally an area of weak in female participation.
To learn more about the work of the UN’s continuing fight for gender equity in education around the world, visit our own DKG Forum or UNESCO Education for the 21st Century. Our DKG Forum offers a free email newsletter focused on UN activities.
Comments and questions about our Hot Topics Affecting Education and Educators are welcome.(SEE UPPER RIGHT CORNER)
1 “Education for All: 263 Million Children and Youth are Out-of-School from Primary to Upper Secondary.” 2017. UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda
2 “Human Rights Council: Agenda Item 3.” 23 June 2017. United Nations General Assembly 35. A/HRC/35/L.35
3“World Poverty Could Be Cut in Half.” 21 June 2017. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from en.unesco.org/news.
4 “This African country ranks first in the world for women business owners.” March 2017. CNBC.com
5 The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Commissioned by American Express OPEN, Research by WOMENABLE, April 2017. p. 7.