By: Lisa DeBenedictis
In many countries, advancements in women’s rights have increased exponentially in recent years. And yet, disparities are still present, with some of the most pronounced in some of the South Asian countries that Barakat works with, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Last week, the United Nations Human Right’s Council (UNHRC) held its annual discussion on Women’s Human Rights in Geneva. At the conference, the organization was informed that the progress on gender equality in education is so stagnant that it will be very unlikely to reach the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating the disparities in education between men and women by 2040.
In her opening remarks, Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang stated that of the 130 million young people not in school, 70 percent are women.
At Barakat, we agree with the UNHRC that education is a human right that is freeing and empowering. Indeed, according to United Nations research: “Girls who are educated are likely to marry later, are better protected from a forced or early marriage, are likely to contribute to reducing the HIV/AIDS rate in their countries, will have fewer children and are less likely to suffer pregnancy-related complications or death…and when they are able to work, they are more likely than boys to invest most of it in their families.”
Though economic factors play a large role (poor families may not be able to afford to send any of their children to school, regardless of their sex), studies have shown that given the choice to either send a son or a daughter to school, the daughter is most often the one that has to stay home.
“Girls have been the first to be withdrawn from school, in order to help their families cope with the economic hardships,” said Kang.
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