Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girl’s Education: Investing in a more Compassionate World

By: Nasir Al-Amin

In Ethiopia, the sight of school age girls working at construction sites, is a visible reminder of the influence poverty has on the education of girls. Across Ethiopia, girls tend to be the most disadvantaged in terms of education: of the 7.8 million Ethiopian children out of school, 4 million are girls. However, this is not a problem particular to Ethiopia, as globally an estimated 62 million girls are out of school, and some 100 million girls engaged in child labor.

There are a myriad of factors that force girls into child labor. For instance, girls drop out to support ill family members and/or younger siblings, the associated cost of education (school fees and supplies), and cultural/family preference to educate male children over girls. Although, the importance of educating girls is multifold:
1) An effective strategy in tackling poverty;
2) Later in life, girls that are educated are more likely to earn more than less educated women, and tend to have more decision-making power with regards to age at which they marry;
3) Educated girls tend to have fewer children, as well as healthier children;
4) Children of educated mothers are more likely to be educated, thus decreasing the probability of entering child labor;

I have worked with young girls who split their day into a morning shift at school, and their afternoon at a construction site. They described hazardous work environments and being forced into exploitative situations. Like the millions of other girls poverty has forced into child labor, they deserve better. I firmly believe educating girls is essential to the global fight against child labor and poverty. Investing in girl’s education is a step towards a more caring and compassionate world.

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