“You can not go to school. It is not safe for you” says the father of two daughters.
“But what about our brother?” replies the eldest daughter as the younger one looks on with big eyes.
“The situation is different for your brother. Do not ask me about school again” says the father firmly, refusing to retract his statement.
The two girls hide their tears by forcing themselves to understand their education was just not meant to be. They turn around and continue their usual housework wondering what it would be like to pick up a pencil to write. To escape into a world far different from the world they are living in. To think. To wonder. To learn. What would it be like to go to school?
In countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia, young girls are often discouraged to attend school. Instead they are strictly instructed on how to be responsible for housework. It has been social norm to treat women as less competent than men- their fragility and femininity would cloud rational decision making. Roughly 17 million girls are expected to never enter school for all different reasons: education is expensive, the walk to school is far and dangerous, and simply because their parents are not comfortable with sending them to school. Parents send their sons to school and they keep their daughters at home which results in an early marriage and poverty stricken life. Girls do not have the opportunity to attend school because girls are typically asked, “to fetch the water, take care of younger siblings and help their mothers cook and clean” (Plan International). Three major countries, (Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia), have over a million girls not attending school. Although many reforms are trying to give young girls the chance to be educated, there are still dangerous forces who want to outlaw schools for girls.
One of the most notable activists for girls right to an education is Malala Yousafzai. At 15 years of age, the accomplishments Malala has achieved leaves the world astounded as they praise her compassion for girls around the world to receive a proper education. Despite being threatened by the Taliban, Malala still continued to publicly campaign for girls to go to school. Her inspiring stories encouraged girls all over the world to not be afraid of wanting an education. Malala advocates how education can transform a young girl’s life, and an educated girl can transform, “communities, countries and our world” (Malala Fund). For an example, girls with a higher level of education are less likely to get married at an early age which means a reduced number of child deaths due to malnutrition because a young mother could not properly take care of the child. Furthermore, girls will be healthier citizens and will be able to raise a healthy family that will later strengthen economies.
But besides educating girls to better the economy, it is time we think about the girls themselves. Who says they do not have the right to be educated? A hostile rebel group such as the Taliban? Why do the girls have to stay back to help their families while their brothers get to go to school and receive an education? People will argue that for the safety of their daughters and sisters, it is best they stay home and tend to household duties where they will be trapped. Safe but trapped by cycle that hinders girls from living because their life is monotonous. It’s the same process: Wake up. Feed the chickens. Fill the buckets with water. Help mom with the chores. Watch the boys go to school. Do more housework. Repeat. And repeat. Enough is enough.
Girls deserve more to their life than being trapped in a cycle. They have earned the right to an education. They work hard each day to provide for their families. Most importantly, they deserve it. Major world powers should hold conferences to advocate for giving young girls in developing countries an education. In these conferences, representatives from each country should talk about how to make education affordable for all since a majority of families cannot send their children to school due to the lack of money. Representatives should implement ways to travel to these countries and speak to the people about creating roads without destroying natural wildlife so there is an easy pathway for all children to get to school. In addition, volunteers can be sent to countries where the lack of girls education is most prominent; the volunteers can teach gather all the kids in a village and teach them how to read, write, and compute mathematical functions etc. Volunteers can be sent to town after town, village after village, teaching children the basics (it would be the first step to a bigger education). At the end of the day, all volunteers can meet and discuss what the kids need help on the most and how they can improve their teaching methods because every child learns differently. It is suggested that they keep a journal of their experiences so when they return, the volunteers can create one big report on how excited the children were to be learning together or how a mother cried tears of joy because her daughter is getting the life she never dreamed possible. Lastly, conducting interviews with families who do send their girls to school would be a great way to show other families how an education can transform their child’s life. We must use the media to our advantage to promote education for all in order to inform families about why it is so important to send all children to school, not just the boys. Because there is no exception to who should get an education.
Because education is for all.