Gender Inequality in School
In some communities in Asia, gender bias has a strong influence on children from the moment a child is born. This bias appears in many areas of life, especially in school and at home. Gender inequality in school in South Asia generally impacts females more than males. Among primary school age children, 5.9 million girls are not in school, compared to 5.5 million boys.1 UNICEF reports,
“Of the region’s out-of-school girls, 81 percent are unlikely to ever start school, compared to 42 percent of out-of-school boys.”2
The United Nations’ ESCAP shares an important aspect of the issue:
“Equitable opportunities for education are a fundamental human right. Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights each enshrine this right.”3
Many factors contribute to the gender inequality in school among the poorest communities in Asia, including the following:
- One factor is familial poverty. Among the region’s poorest families, girls are unlikely to even start school. School fees and the necessary school supplies cost more than many impoverished families can afford. These families often struggle just to meet their basic needs, which leads some parents to have their children work and help provide for the family. This work keeps children from school.
- Community poverty also contributes to gender inequality in school. When there is lack of available buildings and classrooms because the community is impoverished, this sometimes contributes to boys being selected before girls. Community poverty can also contribute to a lack of teachers, especially in remote rural areas. In addition, girls require sanitation facilities, which some poor communities can’t offer.5
- Harmful social norms can also contribute to gender inequality. In some areas of Asia, early marriage and early pregnancy keep girls out of school. In other families, girls are required to stay home to complete domestic duties or to babysit younger siblings.6
- Domestic and gender-based violence also contribute to lower rates of girls in school.7 Some parents in Asia keep their daughters home from school because transportation routes are unsafe for girls and they want to protect them.
- Another factor in this inequality is that some parents don’t consider education a priority, especially for girls. This lack of priority could be because the parents aren’t educated or literate themselves. They are more likely to send their daughters to work or into early marriage because they don’t understand the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty. This is one of the major reasons why gender inequality is a problem in South Asia.
But there are signs of improvement. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS),
“The number of girls and women who have gained access to education in the region increased substantially from 2000 to 2016. During that time, the number of female out-of-school children, adolescents, and youth of primary and secondary school age in the region dropped by 67 million.”8
At GFA World, we are thankful to see improvements in this area. Why is equality in education so important? What are the reasons why girl child education is important? Education is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty.
“Overwhelming evidence of education’s effectiveness in reducing poverty has prompted massive efforts around the world to make quality education available to everyone—especially to the poor.”9
Girls who receive an education learn to dream beyond their current circumstances. With literacy and education, they become qualified for more than domestic duties or manual labor. They can dream of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. GFA programs encourage girls to stay in school and provide their families with helpful resources to ease the financial burden associated with education.
We also provide literacy classes for women in poverty, many of whom received little or no education as children. When a woman learns to read, her life changes. She is qualified for more jobs. She can help her children with schoolwork and read to them. She can read warning labels, street signs and more. Most importantly, she can read of God’s love for her!
Education drives equality and we at GFA World are on the frontlines of that fight. Will you join us?Learn more about girl education charities
1 “Gender Equality in Primary and Secondary Education.” UNICEF. Accessed 12 February 2022. https://www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/education/gender-equality-primary-and-secondary-education.
2 “Gender Equality in Primary and Secondary Education.” UNICEF. Accessed 12 February 2022. https://www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/education/gender-equality-primary-and-secondary-education.
3 “Inequality of Opportunity in Asia and the Pacific: Education.” United Nations ESCAP. Accessed 12 February 2022. https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Education%20Inequality%2029012018.pdf&clen=1093221&chunk=true.
4 “Gender Equality in Primary and Secondary Education.” UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/education/gender-equality-primary-and-secondary-education. Accessed 12 February 2022.
5 Meyers, Juliette. “A New Toolkit for Gender Equality in Asia-Pacific.” 26 August 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/new-toolkit-gender-equality-asia-pacific.
6 Meyers, Juliette. “A New Toolkit for Gender Equality in Asia-Pacific.” 26 August 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/new-toolkit-gender-equality-asia-pacific.
7 Meyers, Juliette. “A New Toolkit for Gender Equality in Asia-Pacific.” 26 August 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/new-toolkit-gender-equality-asia-pacific.
8 “Gender Equality in Asia-Pacific Education.” UNESCO. 8 March 2018. https://bangkok.unesco.org/content/gender-equality-asia-pacific-education-international-women%E2%80%99s-day-2018-statistics-snapshot.
9 Psarris, Emily. “Solutions to Poverty-Line Problems of the Poor & Impoverished.” GFA World. 15 November 2018. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/solutions-extreme-poverty-line-poor-impoverished/#poverty-line-solutions.