For most of us, the idea of not being able to attend school because of one’s gender is unthinkable. But in developing countries, particularly in Africa, it’s all too common for girls to be excluded from formal education. In Sub Saharan Africa, some 16 million girls are not in school.
Why aren’t these girls in school? It’s a tough question to answer. Complex social, political, traditional and economical factors all play a part. Everything from marriage practices to disease to poverty to seasonal labor requirements contribute to this catastrophe. The result is devastating: only one in four poor African girls attends school.
Why does it matter? Because today’s girls are tomorrow’s wives, mothers, caregivers, entrepreneurs and leaders. Because women are the key to ending the cycle of poverty. Because girls’ education leads to:
1. Higher Incomes: When girls learn to read, write and do math, they’re more likely to enter the workforce and earn more when they do—up to 25 percent more.
2. Delayed Marriage and Fewer Children: When girls attend school, they delay marriage and children by several years. Girls not in school typically marry early—often as young as 13–and begin having children. Staying in school through high school gives girls more choices.
3. Healthier Families: Educated girls grow up to have healthier children. Since educated girls have fewer children, they are better equipped to care for their children and families.
4. Reduced HIV/AIDS Risk: Studies show that girls who attend school are three times less likely to become HIV-positive.
5. Less Poverty: An educated girl, on average, spends 90 percent of her income on her family. She sends her own girls to school and contributes to her community.
Aid for Africa is committed to educating girls and young women through the Aid for Africa Girls Education Fund, which provides scholarships for African girls at all levels, from primary through university education. We should remember that there is no better way to empower girls and transform lives than through education.
Give a girl an education and watch her change EVERYTHING.
Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa‘s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation and wildlife protection in Africa.
Photo Credit: Aid for Africa