Did you enjoy school? I’ve got to admit that I’ve realised the benefits of the place only really after leaving. I went to an all girls school in Westminster, with such a reputation that Michael Gove’s daughter will be starting there in September – whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate!
As a teenager, if you’d have told me I didn’t have to go to school, I’d have loved you forever. I didn’t really fit in through most of my school life and I found it hard work. Uncomfortable as it could be at times, I’m pretty convinced there are women across the world who have it far worse than I do.
There is a significant correlation between women’s educational attainment and levels of violence – and it’s not necessarily the correlation you would expect. In general, the more educated a woman is, the less likely she is to be a victim of violence. However, studies have shown that in many developing countries, the empowerment of women can actually lead to increased violence, as empowered women challenege long established cultural norms and traditions.
I’ve actually heard it argued that this is a reason for not educating women – because it will simply cause more danger for them. But then I look at stories like that of Malala, the young Pakistani activist shot for daring to stand up against the ruling Taliban in her region and their prohibition of women’s education. At the age of 15.
At the age of 15, I’m pretty sure that my most major concern was whether or not my English teacher was going to flip her lid over another late piece of coursework, and whether or not I’d be able to get away with missing yet another PE lesson. I wasn’t having to stand up for my fundamental rights as a human being. Malala is incredibly brave, and has rightly received attention worldwide. SHe’s an amazing role model.
But she’s not the only one. There are women denied education across the world, either through direct legislation or through cultural or familial practices, sch as sending a boy to school if there is insufficiant money to send all siblings. And whilst, initially, educated women can be at risk of further violence, what happens when more women brave the barriers? It becomes normal – and the violence decreases. As ever, it’s hard to change the system alone. But many people together can change the world.
So please, do something. We take education for granted here, but it’s literally a world changer for so many – and one that sadly, is denied. Research charities, write to your MP, pray – do something. But please, do something. Actions have power, and education can change a society.