We all have a woman in our mind that moves mountains and paves the way for light in the world. You might be lucky and know one of them. You may even be luckier to be related to one of them. I know for sure I am.
I could write a book on feminism, as most of my friends and family could testify, I do tend to rant often about my role as a woman and an unapologetic feminist. I know my place in this world, as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, and as an educator. I’m Scottish. I was brought up with two wonderful women in my mother and my grandmother. I’m mixed race. So I have mixed variables of heritages to represent me. And I champion that. I embrace the tangents of my history and who I am. And so should every woman.
But what I really want to touch on this IWD is education and why it is the answer to our problems. And why I’m choosing to challenge this year.
As I have championed for years, I tell any person who says that women need to find their voices, or have someone speak on behalf of them, that actually no, we don’t need someone to talk for us, or for us to find our voices. We have voices, we just have to be inspired to use them.
And I’m using my voice to raise the problems that women and girls face with education.
Education is a human right. Education is one of the greatest resources the world has to offer. Unfortunately, for some young girls and women, they are rarely given the same opportunities as boys to learn, study and succeed.
That’s approximately half of the population of the world, isn’t getting the right education that they deserve.
Globally, over 65 million girls are not in school. Out of the 774 million people who are illiterate around the world, two-thirds are women. There are 33 million fewer girls in primary school than boys.
And education really does save lives: If every woman around the globe had primary and secondary education, childhood deaths would be cut in half.
Women and girls continue to face multiple barriers based on gender and its intersections with other factors, such as age, ethnicity, poverty, and disability, in the equal enjoyment of the right to quality education.
This includes barriers, at all levels, to access quality education and within education systems, institutions, and classrooms, such as, amongst others:
- harmful gender stereotypes and wrongful gender stereotyping
- child marriage and early and unintended pregnancy
- gender-based violence against women and girls
- lack of inclusive and quality learning environments and inadequate and unsafe education infrastructure, including sanitation
And on a personal level, we can encourage our young women to strive to be better. Which you think might be easy, but when was the last time you looked into the eyes of a woman and really encouraged her to grab her opportunities and seize them? When was the last time you sat down with an impoverished child and opened up her eyes to a world beyond her local village? When was the last time that you educated a young girl about her life choices and helped her on a path to success?
We can all do better in this world. We are not all perfect humans. But we can strive to do better, and one way I would encourage you all to do is to harness the power of your own education and career successes. Look at the ways that you can provide help to our fellow women. Can you donate your funds, your time or even just your knowledge to help many women’s charities fight this cause? Can you look at your profiles, look at your outreach, who can you inspire? Can you look at your own status, what can you do to make a difference?
The fact is that our world thrives on the will of its people. And it’s our responsibility that we give the women of this world a fair chance of being a part of it, rather than being an accessory.
So this IWD I really encourage anyone who is reading this to be a part of the revolution instead of watching it. Make the noise that your voice can deliver. Be the change that you would like to see.
And most importantly, understand that the right to education is precious but endangered and we can not let it become abandoned.
Women have the chance to educate the world, but only if we give them the right to educate themselves.