Let me not bore you with tons of data and stats, because that is really not the point here. If there is even one girl child out there who should be in school right now, then it is contingent upon us to find her and do whatever we can to send her to school.
If you must know, though, there are actually more than 30 million such young girls out there who should be attending school as you read.
This is not to suggest in any way that it is not equally important for young boys to go to school, but anyone interested in this cause will know that the disparities in access to school for girls remains a global concern. If you could only send either your boy or your girl to school because of financial constraints, who would you choose?
The challenging part is that it is not always an issue with financial ability of the family, although poverty of course plays a big role. Barriers against girl education span many different areas. In some cases, it can be cultural; girls are expected to be married off early and take care of their houses and families. Around 12 million girls around the world are married before the age of 18 years every year.
In other cases, it can be a more practical issue of schools not having appropriate provisions for girl-specific needs for toilets, sanitation, hygiene, safety, etc. By some reports, one third of the schools across the world lack adequate toilet facilities for their students.
The issue becomes even more complicated in cases where gender-based violence is involved.
While every barrier needs serious attention, the easiest one to tackle is the financial one. So, this is where we will focus, for now.
You will find many studies that prove the point that a girl educated is not equivalent to a boy educated - but rather it results in exponentially higher benefits throughout her lifetime, both for her and for the nation.
Going to school is where children start to develop their sense of self-confidence and self-worth. An educated girl grows up to be more confident about her place in the world, not to mention that being educated results in a dramatic increase in her lifetime earning. This improves the quality of life for herself and her family. Beyond this, educating girls has been demonstrated to result in a decline in child marriages and child mortality rates. Even more importantly, education of girls shows clear linkages to increase in national growth rates and reduction in poverty rates.
There are still countries in the world where primary and/or secondary public schooling is not free, although there has been much progress on this over the past years. But even where primary and secondary education in public schools may be free, the public schools may not be in a position to adequately meet the gender-specific needs. In such cases, no schooling becomes the default option for parents or guardians. There are also costs involved which go beyond the tuition, such as uniform, books, etc.
The cost of primary and secondary education vary by country. But for any middle income family, the cost of funding a girl's education in a developing world for one year will be more a matter of vision and compassion. And the value for the girl and her family will be priceless!
If you know a girl who should be in school, please visit the Recommend a Girl page. If you would like to sponsor a girl to attend school, please check back as we will soon be posting the list of vetted candidates. You can also subscribe to educateeverygirl.com and we will be happy to reach out to you in due course.