According to the International Labor Association, in most Arab countries, even though education rates are higher for women, they still have fewer opportunities to work than men.
At first, the information may seem a bit too negative, but in fact it shows a change of values in society. Education is always the first step towards an equal and fair environment to all. It helps women to know their rights, to marry later, to stop the crazy demand of modern days to look beautiful all the time. It is a step towards awareness and economic wealth, but it brings more than that: it brings a chance to have another kind of life.
When my grandmother was young, eighty years ago, her father wouldn’t allow her to study. He used to say that “a girl doesn’t need to study” and “reading will do the trick”. She didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, but because she always dreamed about reading, a local teacher used to go especially to her house to teach her how to read. This was her only experience with education.
Since she valued the chance she had, her children went to school and later on to university and became doctors, teachers and engineers. This is only one example, but through it we are able to understand that the seed of education was planted and because of it, many lives changed.
Sexual diseases, appropriate awareness about health and many other essential themes are discussed in school grounds. This is why it is particularly important to create in schools a safe and prejudice-free environment for boys and girls to learn. We cannot have more Malalas! Photo extracted from the Ethics Education for Children website.
Besides the illogical and prejudicial idea that schools are not for girls, there is also a common link between the lack of education and child labor, which affects both genders and creates an even more difficult scenario.
Many children (not just girls) decide to work instead of studying in order to contribute with the family’s income. This is a very unfortunate situation and very difficult to deal with as well. Now think: if the scenario is difficult for boys can you imagine how much more though it is for girls?
There are, however, some examples of successful political measures that can end the common link between absence in school and child labor. Many countries have implemented social programs in which children who attend school get financial aid, while those who miss it risk losing the extra assistance.
Our world is incredibly unequal to all, but there is no way to deal with inequality without thinking about education. Schools promote gender equality and both boys and girls shouldn’t miss the opportunity. We need more safe schools in order to create a free thinking environment, as well as more social policies and studies regarding education and awareness. Education is a right, it cannot be a privilege.
Gabriela Isa Rosendo Vieira Campos