In­vest in ed­u­cat­ing our girls

Ed­u­cat­ing women strength­ens economies and in­creases the qual­ity of their lives

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

se­ri­ous un­der­in­vest­ment.

How­ever, women’s ed­u­ca­tion doesn’t just stand to strengthen the econ­omy, it also in­creases the eq­ui­tabil­ity of the dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth in a so­ci­ety. In­creased women’s ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant for achiev­ing this as it tar­gets im­pov­er­ished women, a par­tic­u­larly dis­ad­van­taged group; with ev­i­dence show­ing that lower gen­der dis­par­ity in ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment for a de­vel­op­ing country cor­re­lates with lower in­come dis­par­ity in so­ci­ety.

Some of the sig­nif­i­cant so­cial de­vel­op­ments women’s ed­u­ca­tion leads to, ac­cord­ing to Har­vard aca­demic Martha Nuss­baum, in­clude de­creased fer­til­ity rates, lower in­fant mor­tal­ity rates, lower ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rates, in­creased gen­der equal­ity, im­proved cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties and in­creased qual­ity of life for women.

One ex­am­ple of this, as cited by scholar Nails Kabeer, is the fact that ed­u­cated women are bet­ter able to make decisions re­lated to health, both for them­selves and their chil­dren and are less likely to ac­cept do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­gard­less of other so­cial sta­tus in­di­ca­tors like em­ploy­ment sta­tus.

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties also trans­late to in­creased po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion among women. Ed­u­cated women are more likely to en­gage in civic par­tic­i­pa­tion and at­tend po­lit­i­cal meet­ings, and there are sev­eral in­stances in which ed­u­cated women in the de­vel­op­ing world were able to se­cure ben­e­fits for them­selves through po­lit­i­cal move­ments.

The devel­op­ment of women in struc­tures and in­sti­tu­tions of power in demo­cratic gov­ern­ments is most likely to oc­cur when young girls and women are well-ed­u­cated and are able to utilise this ed­u­ca­tion to fur­ther lib­er­ate them­selves and con­trib­ute to the so­cioe­co­nomic devel­op­ment of the country.

Ev­ery­body has a role to play in the suc­cess of our na­tion, the dis­en­fran­chise­ment of women only means fewer peo­ple to ad­vance the cause. We need to shift the way we see women and girls in South Africa and recog­nise their po­ten­tial for change, even out­side the month of Au­gust.

Seabe is a black rad­i­cal fem­i­nist writer who was ac­tively in­volved in #FeesMustFall protests, and is cur­rently

en­rolled in the ASRI: Fu­ture Lead­ers Pro­gramme

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