The deep-rooted stigma against girls’ education, conjoined with culture and gender inequality, translate to what is commonly perceived as unbreakable barriers to girls’ education.
As a result, child marriage, sex trafficking, and forced prostitution become horrific alternatives to education that leaves a country trapped in a cocoon of gender-based violence, economic paralysis, and ill health.
For thousands of girls in rural parts of Kenya, going to school remains a distant dream and an unattainable ecstasy that hovers beyond reach.
In most cases, girls are sometimes perceived by their families as either an economic burden or a source of money. In Kenya 1 in 4 girls is married off before her 18th birthday.
As a country, we need to understand what exactly girls’ education is, and its significance and relevance.
Girls’ education is a basic human right and according to the United Nation Human Rights Declaration (Article 26), education is a fundament right and warrants for its universal access.
Girls should be able to pursue knowledge in their chosen fields, to have enriching learning experiences and complete their primary, secondary and tertiary education programs, regardless of their gender.
Educating the girl child is the main catalyst for achieving gender equality. By investing in a girls’ education, girls will be given a chance to realize their full human rights and make so many important contributions to our society, reaping the benefits of economic, social and political development.
They will be able to form the next generation of women leaders and make groundbreaking strides toward bridging the gender gap.
Research has shown that education assists in ending early marriages. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014, 67% of women aged 20-24 years with no education get married before their 18th birthday in comparison to 6% of women with secondary education.
Keeping girls in school delays them from getting married hence giving the girl child an opportunity to complete her education.Also, it helps them explore livelihood choices and develop fully into women of their own right.
According to UNESCO educating the girl child has proven to lower maternal and infant mortality rates. Women with formal education learn about the importance of pre-natal care, hygienic child care practices, vaccinations and high-level nutrition for themselves and their children.
In addition, education provides these women with ideas of where to turn to for health care advice and medical treatment.
Last but not least educating the girl child is a stepping stone to improved girls’ health.
According to the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa, girls with at least six years of school education are more likely to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
Clearly, the benefits of educating the girl child are many. We should remember that if we educate a girl child, we have educated a family and the whole nation.