By Fiona Nzingo
Africa is drowning in countless cases of the “three D’s and one C”, that is death, despair, diseases and corruption. This can be attributed to many causes such as insecurity, unemployment and low wage, poor governance, poor infrastructure e. t. c. The main issue here is how gender imbalance affects the rate of poverty in Africa. 2015 Millennium Development Goals hopes to improve the pathetic situation of the world, most importantly, Africa. Some impact of this will only happen when everyone becomes fully involved. So how does gender equity play a part in this movement, especially to make an impact in Africa?
For starters, Africa consists of more women than men. Whatever they can be involved in would surely have more involvement or impact given the fact that they are the larger number. Gender equity would therefore be the starting point. How? Once the girl child is given access to education in remote areas in the African region, this will have grand effects.
To begin with, it would have an effect on mortality rates in the region. This is possible because since girls and women are the child bearers of the societies, they will have more knowledge about childbearing, rearing, immunizations and birth control pills. It will prevent the millions of deaths that occur in relation to not being given proper treatment and medication just because they do not know what health requirements are needed e.g. check ups and supplements. Being educated about birth control pills would help control the amount of unwanted pregnancies that make many girls drop out of school and not finish their education. This would increase the mortality rate, providing a large number of labors that increases the demand and provision for better infrastructures and ways of living. One point not to forget is that of sexually transmitted diseases. Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS victims. There are also other diseases involved such as syphilis and gonorrhea. HIV/AIDS has had the most effect. There is no cure for it therefore those infected and do not have medication obviously die. This reduces the capability of the region if many of its people end up dying rather than working to better its standards. One could argue that the fact that HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drugs are free therefore this problem has been dealt with. We tend to forget that in Africa, a person infected is stigmatized. This can be attributed to poor education that has not discussed this problem in its curriculum. Once an infected person has such a mentality, he/she will not want to be recognized as a person who goes for the “accursed” medication. Sadly, many deaths have occurred in relation to this.
One challenge to accessing education in Africa is the fact that Africa is, and always has been, a very patriarchal society despite the fact that people preach for the equity of women. Families would rather sell cows and take loans to educate their sons than taking their daughters to school. They feel like they are wasting money that could be put for better use. Therefore, making education for the girl child free, will give them access to this needed education on birth control pills and sexually transmitted diseases, without these parents feeling like they are misusing money.
If such form of knowledge was developed into the school curriculum, I believe there would be a big difference to Africa’s current situation. This education should be made free to all so that the girl child could also go to school. This could be used as a “social vaccine” to the society. This will help create awareness to those sexually active because it needs man and woman for this to happen. There are also cases of homosexuality which could be tackled the same way. The mortality rate in Africa will improve. There will be more energy used in helping develop Africa. I like to believe, if the girl child was involved in such a manner, there would have been many more Nkurumahs and Mandelas born to make this a better Africa.