More girls than ever go to school. Despite progress, women and girls continue to face barriers based on gender and its intersections with other factors, such as age, ethnicity, poverty, and disability, in the enjoyment of the right to quality education. This includes barriers, at all levels, to access quality education and within education systems, institutions, classrooms.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable World. 19% of women and girls between the ages of 15 – 49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period and 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.
Progress is occurring regarding harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, but there is still much work to be done to eliminate such practices.
Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel economies and benefit societies and humanity.
Implementing legal frameworks regarding female equality in the workplace and the eradication of harmful practices targeted at women is crucial to ending discrimination prevalent in many countries around the World.
The education of women and girls will lead to a wide range of benefits from improved maternal health, reduced infant mortality and fertility rates to increased prevention against HIV and AIDS.
Educated mothers are more likely to know that HIV can be transmitted by breastfeeding, and that the risk of mother-to-child transmission can be reduced by taking drugs during pregnancy.
Each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5 – 10%. Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond age 5 compared to those whose mothers have no education. Completion of secondary education has a strong correlation with girls marrying later and delaying first pregnancy.
Influencing the way people think, believe and behave is the single most complicated task of human development. Cultural change has to be from within. Sustainable change has to be owned and operated locally.
Identify agents of change, men and women activists, religious leaders, traditional and community leaders, media figures, charismatic community mobilizers, and especially youth themselves, who are the most critical agents of change.