What Can I Do?
Access: There are many barriers to education: social, political, environmental, cultural. People and organizations in your area may already be addressing some or all of these barriers. Ask them how you can support their work. They may ask you to write to politicians, speak to family members of girls in your communities, donate your time, or mentor girls through their education. While we can't list the millions of people supporting access to education for women and goals at a local level, here's one list from Educating Girls Matters.
Ally: If there is a girl or woman attending school or working for their daughter to attend school, ask what support they need and follow through if you can! Sometimes it can be child care, textbooks, old computers, or a bike!
Allocate: If you have available finances, help support a girl's education by enrolling them in school and paying their annual fees, uniforms, or whatever is possible. Many educational non-profits rely on volunteering, you may be able to support, whether administrative, helping to cook, or even running workshops on your experiences. You may have books or other things you can donate to the school. This couple from Bombay lives a simple life and has paid for over 200 students to attend school, starting with a young girl who was at risk of leaving.
Aware: Share the benefits of education to both society and the environment (who knew educating women can also reverse climate change?). Think of your connections with influential individuals and organizations can create change. We all know a powerful aunty who can move mountains even without any money!
You could also share the work of innovative schools in lower income communities by making a video, writing about it, or mentioning it in a conference. Why not share the story of innovative schools like Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha? This way, the need for change can reach those with better resources and the willingness to make a difference.
Appreciate: There are many forms of education beyond those in formal schooling. Appreciate other forms of education if they have an eye towards empowerment is important. When you discover a group in your city that is trying to make education accessible, or you learn about creative solutions to fight illiteracy, spread the word by appreciating them in person and on social media!
Anything else? Keep us posted on anything you've learned about educating women and girls
Who's Doing It?
BANGLADESH: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha makes education possible for girls, women, boys, and senior citizens through solar-powered floating schools and libraries in remote Bangaldesh. Founder Mohammed Rezwan grew up facing challenges from climate change and heavy monsoons, making attending school in the Natore district of Bangladesh difficult. Today, 20 operating boats pick up more than 1600 students to attend school.
With floating schools, Rezwan used his architectural background to solve the problem and placed particular emphasis on environmental protection. The villages in the remote area of Chalanbeel used to be a riverside community lacking access to land, information and opportunities.
The boats are equipped with internet-linked laptops and PCs and a rich library.
They also provide low-cost solar-powered lanterns to help students continue their learning at home.
In addition to primary education, the school also runs training courses for adults, especially women, in sustainable agriculture, women’s rights, education, nutrition, and sustainably dealing with climate change.
More about educating women and girls
Drawdown lists educating women and girls as the 62nd most impactful activity we can do to reverse climate change. Combining it with the other 99 solutions means we have a chance at reversing climate change. An annual $39 billion would create education for all in low to lower-middle income countries around the world, according to the UN. It would also result in reducing 59.6 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050. Beyond the climate impacts, imagine the massive return on investment if girls all had at least 13 years of schooling and beyond.
More facts from Drawdown:
-Educating women and girls makes places more resilient to natural disasters, including those from climate change. Across 125 countries, the single most important factor to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters is educating girls and women.
-62 million girls today are denied their right to education
-The difference between 12 years of schooling vs. no formal schooling is about four to five children per woman
-South Korea's intensive investment in educating girls has resulted in their becoming one of the world's most educated countries
-An economic study found that educating girls is “highly cost-competitive with almost all of the existing options for carbon emissions abatement” - perhaps just $10 per ton of carbon dioxide
Cover photo is public domain
Slideshow photos are from Abir Abdullah
Girl Scout photo under Creative Commons 2.0
Statistics are from http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls/educating-girls
Inspiration for concept and some content from the Drawdown team's 100 solutions, though we are not formally affiliated.
Article written and researched by Jahnvi Pananchikal and edited by Full Footprint team