Today, 75 million children in the world are denied the chance to go to school. These children could be our next generation’s leaders, sports stars, doctors and teachers. But they face a lifelong struggle against poverty. As we reached the half way mark it became clear that this goal is achievable but that much more needed to be done:
- Over a third of children drop out before completing primary school and many more leave school having failed
- There is a global shortage of teachers: 18 million teachers need to be trained and recruited by 2015;
- Not enough is being done to address hard to reach children, secondary schooling, adult literacy and early childhood education;
- 774 million adults have been denied an education and cannot read and write.
The hardest goals for to meet by 2015, especially in sub-Saharan Africa are those that affect women most directly: Goal 3, Gender Equality and Goal 5; Improving Maternal Health. subsistence agriculture is largely the domain of women, who contribute a large percent in food production. Agricultural productivity can increase by up to 20 per cent if women’s access to resources such as land, seed and fertilizer is equal to men’s.
Gender inequality is the greatest moral challenge of our age. We have to imagine a world where all people, men and women together, in equal partnership, with no artificial legal, cultural, religious, or economic barriers, work together for the greater good. We must imagine a world where all people, regardless of their gender, are judged, as Dr. Martin Luther King might have said.
Women entrepreneurs create new jobs for themselves and others and by being different also provide society with different solutions to management, organisation and business problems as well as to the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. However, they still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs.
Although the focus on education is justified in light of the evidence that investing in girls’ education yields high returns, education alone is insufficient for eliminating the range of gender inequalities or for empowering women to participate in society.
Gender equality and the empowerment of women can remain elusive goals—without the opportunity to fully use education to obtain decent employment or to participate fully in decision making in the political arena.
Photo: by Andriankoto - Malagasy woman - Political Protest in Madagascar - early 2009 (Manakara)