Why educate women part 1

Why educate women?

In light of the MGD goals of 2015, the disparity in education between males and females of the developing world became a top priority of many NGO’s. The primary school net enrollment rate in the developing regions has reached 91 per cent in 2015, up from 83 per cent in 2000.[1] As a result of efforts activists boast an increase of girls in primary school and girls in secondary school, though the latter lags. These are remarkable achievements and efforts must continue to further narrow the gap in education between girls and boys.

In addition to girls of primary school age, there is another generation of women that cannot be forgotten. The generation of women 17 years old and older. These are women in the prime of their lives. These are the women who work long hours in the informal sector as they try to provide for their children, maintain a home and create a better life. These “forgotten” women hold great value in the community and are often the motivator of the next generation. These are the mothers and older sisters and aunts who are the role models for the next generation of women. By educating these women we create the expectation of educating girls. “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation” This is a popular phrase in many development organizations focused on women’s empowerment.

Studies, such as that from Burney and Infan, support the above quote and discuss the influence of “intergenerational transfer of human capital”. Their claim is that when parents are illiterate and living in poverty it is often transferred to their offspring.  By providing women access to literacy and business skills we can improve the transfer of human capital and focus on education. It is imperative that this generation of women benefit from education that is designed specifically to meet their needs.

When women receive education and job skills they use their knowledge to improve their productivity. The resources gained from better business practices and education are then returned to the local community in abundance. The return on investment of educating women has potential to transform societies into prosperous communities with an understanding of equality and governance. The education of girls is an important endeavor to build a more inclusive and prosperous future, but we cannot forget their mothers generation. Aiding this generation acquire skills will make education a norm and provide the path for all girls and women to have a voice within their community.


Blog post by Linnie Pawlek, founder of Teach By Tech, Inc. a 501 (c)3 organization located in Colorado, USA. To learn more about how Teach By Tech is working to make education accessible to women of the urban slums in the developing world visit our webpage: www.teachbytech.org


[1] The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20Summary%20web_english.pdf


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