March happens to be Women’s History Month in the United States and Sunday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. But while we celebrate women globally that one day each year, the other 364 women and girls are being left behind.
According to the United Nations, women are still meaningfully unequal in the world, particularly as it relates to education:
- women make up two-thirds of the 796 million illiterate people in the world
- only 39% of rural girls attend a secondary school and global data from 42 countries shows that rural girls are twice as likely as urban girls to be out of primary school
- data from 68 countries shows that a woman’s education is a key factor in determining child survival
- Every additional year in primary school education increases girls future wage earning by 10-20%
- In Egypt, Indonesia and several African countries, building local schools in rural communities increased enrollment for girls
Another reason that girls have lower levels of attendance in school might seem surprising – bathrooms. Or really, a lack thereof. Girls in developing communities across the globe struggle to stay in school for many reasons, the last things on that list should be a bathroom. But 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa is forced to miss school while menstruating because of a lack of access to clean water source and bathrooms according to UNESCO, which can be as much as 20% of the school year. Some even drop out altogether. And even during the rest of the month, if nature calls, girls often have to walk far distances to use a latrine, causing them to miss class.
Soma, in its partnership with Charity: Water works to correct this issue by bringing clean water access and latrines to rural school communities helping young girls to stay in school and further their education. Education is power. And the more power we give to women, the better off humankind will be.