Empowering Women Through Education

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by Jenna McDaniel

The United States is not the only country falling woefully short in presenting equal opportunities for all. Worldwide, we have increased the number of educated women, yet statistics still remain low in comparison to men. The UN General Assembly recently addressed this topic in their 69th session, and noted that the advantages of educating women extend far beyond what we might expect the impact to be. The article Educate women and their community will prosper. Deny them education and the world will suffer, by Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett, elaborates on the deep-rooted, positive aspects of addressing this ongoing issue, including a woman’s impact on her family and her community, as well as the economy. 

It is not uncommon to respect someone who is educated and experienced. This is evident in family relationships, particularly between parents and their children. While a mother’s role in particular may vary greatly between different cultures and religions, she is usually still regarded as a role model in the eyes of her children. An educated woman will have legitimacy and a much stronger foundation to speak from in terms of the power of authority she has as a mother. She is regarded as having a stronger platform of credibility and reliability; therefore, she is often seen as a role model to others, extending her influence beyond the boundaries of just her family. With each passing year, we learn and are taught the ways of life as we find the paths that will ultimately provide us with the most opportunity. Statistically, children with educated parents are more likely to pursue a college education. In Findings from the Condition of Education 2001, 74 percent of high school graduates continued on past high school to receive at least some college education, solely based on the fact that their parents did. Although both parents’ educational backgrounds have equal influence on their children’s decisions, it is still more difficult for women to climb the ranks in today’s business world. Pursuing a college degree after graduating high school is usually a critical indicator for professional success. This is evident with successive generations. It is important that we help ourselves, both for men and women, because learning doesn’t stop at the end of college. An educated mother is better able to educate her own children who, in turn, will be more likely to receive a college education themselves. Everyone defines success differently, but no one can argue that education equals opportunity. 60 million girls around the world do not have access to elementary education. Girls deserve the same opportunities for education in their desired fields and the aspiration to make something of themselves. Girls’ education is most deficient in essential areas such as numeracy and literacy, creating yet another barrier for women in pursuing a career. The continuing failure to educate girls in parts of the world today costs our economy 92 billion US dollars each year. Women with a strong educational foundation will not only earn more themselves, but they will contribute more to their household and national economies. Women without education are far more likely to fall victim to human trafficking and forced child marriages. Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett, two prominent women in very different careers, claim that education provided them with a solid foundation of confidence, leading both of them down the road to success. Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister, and Cate Blanchett is a leading actress in several major theatre and film productions. Both women credit these achievements to their strong educational backgrounds. Strong confidence and drive, when paired with a solid educational foundation, can lead to unlimited possibilities.

In addressing this critical global issue, the UN General Assembly concluded that we can no longer afford not to provide girls with an education. By failing to educate 60 million girls, we are continuously losing individuals with each passing generation that have the potential to change the world. The stratification still evident in today’s business world undermines the contributions of 50 percent of our work force. When women are denied the ability to hold positions of power and authority, it sparks a chain reaction that affects generations to come. Simply put, women aren’t accessing education, not because they don’t think it’s important, but because they are being denied the opportunity. “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.

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