Educating women benefits the whole community
Educating women can transform communities, nations and regions in a positive way. There is a plethora of research and data on the benefits of educating girls. I believe that discussion needs to be enhanced to include the benefits of education women. It is important that development agencies and NGO’s do not overlook the women who are no longer of school age. These women may not improve statistics on child marriage, or secondary school rates but educating these women will break the cycle of cultural taboos against educating girls and provide the catalyst these women need to transform their lives and that of their children. Educating women needs to be directed specifically to the needs of the women and their environment.
It is important to note that in the developing world there has been a tremendous increase in the rate of children enrolled in primary school. This is an extraordinary feat and the work needs to continue. However, enrollment is not necessarily an indicator of quality education or completion rates. One of the greatest problems facing education today is the lack of adequate teachers. Not only are there not enough teachers globally to achieve universal primary education, many of the teachers currently working are also untrained, leading to children failing to learn the basics, such as math and language skills. As a result, children who have experienced some education are not meeting the expected standards. These children become adults lacking the necessary skills to overcome the obstacles of poverty. This is just one example of why it is important to also place resources and focus into educating women in the developing world. Global Citizen provides another example of the struggle in educating girls. “Put simply, gender is one of the biggest reasons why children are denied an education. Despite recent advances in girls’ education, a generation of young women has been left behind. Over 100 million young women living in developing countries are unable to read a single sentence. At least one in five adolescent girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination.” This generation of girls left behind have become the women living in poverty. By focusing on their education NGOs and development agencies can make immediate impacts on the quality of life of these women and their families.
Educating Girls Matter, in conjunction with World Bank and the Clinton Global Initiative, created a list of the benefits of educating girls,
1. Reduction in child and maternal mortality
2. Improvement of child nutrition and health
3. Lower birth rates
4. Enhancement of women’s domestic role and their political participation
5. Improvement of economic productivity and growth
6. Protection of girls from HIV/AIDS, abuse and exploitation
Each of these benefits is relevant to education women also. The map below, provided by the Huffington Post, shows ages of first-time mothers from 141 countries:
As the youngest average of countries reviewed is 18 years old in Angola, it supports the argument that there must be a focus on educating women in addition to girls. Of course, I understand that this is the average, which skews the data on the age of motherhood for the poorest and most marginalized populations. Despite this, as women 18+ are the primary group of first time mothers, it is invaluable to provide education to this group in order to create effective and sustainable change, which will benefit both the mothers and children. By educating women not only is a path to prosperity established, but also an avenue to female participation in voicing the needs of the community and country, a better understanding of health initiatives that can lead to lower mortality rates and family planning, a robust community of female role models that advocate for continued education and better schooling.
Educated women are an imperative in any society, but the benefits to the developing world are overwhelming. Educated women contribute to the quality, size, and productivity of the workforce. They can get better paying jobs, allowing them to provide daily necessities, health care, and education to support the family. The ripple effect created by educating women is unquestionable and absolutely necessary for the future of any society.
Blog post by Linnie Pawlek, founder of Teach By Tech, Inc. a 501 (c)3 organization located in Colorado, USA. To learn more about how Teach By Tech is working to make education accessible to women of the urban slums in the developing world visit our webpage: www.teachbytech.org
 “Ten Barriers to Education around the world” https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/10-barriers-to-education-around-the-world-2/ 2014.
 “The Challenge Today” http://www.educatinggirlsmatters.org/challenge.html 2017.
 “Pregnancy Around The World: The Average Age Women Become First-Time Mothers Revealed” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/03/09/pregnancy-around-the-world-age-of-new-mums_n_9416064.html 2016.