Girl Child Education Is Essential For The Growth Of A Nation

Canadian High CommissionEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryGirlInSchool, a campaign by the High Commission of Canada, Nutrition International and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate for equal opportunities for girls in India. Join the conversation by publishing a story here.

A girl child’s education encompasses way more than mere enrolment in schools; it should also ensure a better health standard, violence-free environment and gender-neutral atmosphere for them. Education is not limited to school; an atmosphere must be created where a girl child’s upbringing must be done similarly as a boy’s. Education at school and equal status with similar opportunities for every child at home – are two ways that can help to empower women. Perhaps the most obvious of the advantages of female education is the potential economic growth. According to UNICEF, women see a 25 % increase in wages later in life with only one year of secondary education. Female education even affects the gross domestic product with a rise of 0.3 percentage points per percentage point increase in female education participation. When women and girls are educated, the entire economy grows and thrives.

If we want to find out whether girls are getting equal opportunities, we need to look into some data. The 2011 census showed the male literacy rate to be 82.14%, while for females it lags at 65.46%. In 2010, India ranked 105th among 128 countries in its education for all development index. If we look at these statistics alone, we can figure out the level of discrimination girls face right from their childhood. Most women and girls are not even allowed to have an opinion in the patriarchal setup we all live in.

There are many factors which keep girls out of school. Poverty, gender-based discrimination and exploitation, lack of adequate health care, child marriage, protection from violence, and adherence to old stereotypes etc. While there are organisations in place to support girl’s education, as a society, we also need to encourage and support our girls. According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) around 39.4 % of adolescent girls in the 15-18 age group are not attending any educational institution, and a vast majority — around 65 % of them are “either engaged in household activities, are dependents, or are engaged in begging etc. Government initiatives or schemes have not been able to bring any positive outcome in terms of increasing the enrolment rate of adolescent girls in our country.

If we start working on the ground level, women will become independent and confident. After all, education also plays a crucial part in boosting the economy.

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