Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. They’re receiving no formal education at all – no reading, no writing, no math – none of the basic skills they need to provide for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to their countries.Ms. Obama notes that this issue is often represented as a lack of resources. The proposed solution is to provide more scholarships for girls so they can afford tuition costs, uniforms, and supplies. Safe transportation and school bathroom facilities are also suggested so the girls don’t have to stay home during their monthly cycle.
Why are these solutions not sufficient? Because many societies still fail to punish rapists and reject survivors of rape as “damaged goods.” Because of the lack of opportunity for these girls to use their educations in their home countries, where they can’t join the workforce after graduation.
Considering these limits, it’s understandable that girls’ families don’t see the benefit in putting their daughters in school when they could be working now to help bring the family out of poverty.
Ms. Obama continues [bold emphasis mine],
…We cannot address our girls’ education crisis until we address the broader cultural beliefs and practices that can help cause and perpetuate this crisis…I’ll be urging countries around the world to both make investments in girls’ education and challenge laws and practices that silence, demean, and brutalize women – from female genital mutilation and cutting, to forced child marriage, to laws that allow marital rape and disadvantage women in the workplace.
[A walk to school in the southern Indian city of Kerala (Arko Datta/Reuters)]
The First Lady’s post in The Atlantic, titled, “ Let Girls Learn, ” goes on to make more important points about global education of women, and I encourage you to follow the link and read her article.
Last spring, President and Mrs. Obama launched the initiative of the same name as the article, Let Girls Learn, to help fund community girls’ education projects and address issues that keep those 62 million girls out of school, and to help the millions more fighting to stay there.
As I’ve traveled the world, I have met so many of these girls. I’ve seen firsthand that every single one of them has the spark of something extraordinary inside of them, and they are so hungry to realize their promise. They walk for hours each day to school, learning at rickety desks in bare concrete classrooms. They study for hours each night, holding tight to their hopes for the future, even in the face of heartbreaking odds. Michelle Obama