When education wins

Call me naive, but I never truly understood how or why education was always considered the answer to so many social issues in the world. I always thought that health and economic empowerment were among the most effective tools in alleviating many pressing global problems. For some reason education was low on my list. My time at Educo, however, showed me that solutions like health and economic empowerment are quite closely linked to education. In fact, when quality and accessible education is not provided, the repercussions in the context of health, economic, and familial statuses can prove to be catastrophic.

Much of my job at the beginning of my time with Educo was to pull many statistics and data points from various reports to further understand the work being done. Much of the data that I was looking at was the link between girls’ education, and child marriage, and girls’ health in the context of violence.

Here are some of the most shocking statistics that I found so far:

  • Girls married as children are more likely to drop out of school. One reason for this is that the dowry goes up with the age and education level of the girl (UNICEF India)
  • In India, almost half of all women 20-24 years of age are married before reaching their 18th birthday. In India, girls cannot marry before 18 (UNICEF India)
  • The male literacy rate in India is over 80% whereas the female literacy rate is 65.5% (Census 2011).
  • Girls married as children are more likely to have a low-paid job and limited decision-making power at home (UNICEF India).
  • Nearly 13% of married girls between 15-19 years of age experience sexual violence by their husbands (UNICEF India).
  • Girls married as children are more likely to face violence, abuse and exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (UNICEF India)
  • In 2014, there were a total of 36,735 cases of rape reported in India (NCRB – Crime against women).

In my previous job, I worked largely in the marketing department, and much of my task involved presenting statistics in the most compelling ways. I found, though, that for many of the above statistics, very little was necessary to make them compelling. When I put these statistics in the order that they’re in, I saw such a direct link between lack of education and many social issues in the world. By addressing a root problem, though – like lack of education – so many of the statistics stated above are addressed. According to Girls not Brides, child marriage often implies the end of education for a girl (No to child marriage – Girls not Brides). This then means she will not be able to earn as much, or any money, for her family. Because of this, she will hold a lesser status in her household concerning decision making. Lack of ability to make decisions can lead to increased exposition to violence and abuse or it can lead to a girl becoming pregnant without her opinion being considered. Pregnancies when the girl is too young can cause severe, sometimes fatal, issues for both mom and fetus.

So, what if girls did remain in school, you ask? Well…

A girl with secondary schooling is six times less likely to be pushed into marriage before she is 18 compared to girls with little or no education

(What is the impact of Child Marriage – Girls not Brides:)

References:

[1] Unicef India, Why ‘NOT’ Child Marriage,’ http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/30/Child-Marriage
[2] Census 2011, literacy in India, http://www.census2011.co.in/literacy.php
[3] Girls not Brides, No to child marriage. Yes to education for Girls!, http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/GNB-Child-marriage-education-infographic-1200px.jpg
[4] Girls not Brides, What is the impact of Child Marriage, http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/themes/education/

Although being an Indian-American, Nisha has never been to India like her parents did and now is excited to integrate into the Indian culture and make it a strong part of her identity. She is passionate about health and education and is looking forward to working in the same field through AIF and her host organization. Through this fellowship, she wants to learn about the issues from the people who are living through them and wants to gain a deep understanding of them. Prior to AIF, she was living and working in Peru and Tanzania, an experience she things that would help her in this fellowship.

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