International Women’s Day means different things to different people. For some it’s a celebration, for others it’s a call to action to accelerate gender parity, and for many it’s an opportunity to align and promote relevant activity. Whatever your objective, International Women’s Day is the perfect moment for gender-focused action.
I believe that when we raise our voices, men and women, speaking about the importance and benefits of getting all girls educated, we will see real changes. The country benefits in so many ways.
How can we do this?
What would it take to improve girls’ access to education? These are some of the school-based policies we could take in making it happen.
- Parental and community involvement — Families and communities must be important partners with schools in developing curriculum and managing children’s education.
- Low-cost and flexible timetables — Basic education should be free or cost very little. Where possible, there should be stipends and scholarships to compensate families for the loss of girls’ household labour. Also, school hours should be flexible so children can help at home and still attend classes.
- Schools close to home, with women teachers — Many parents worry about girls travelling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
- Preparation for school — Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and prepares them for school.
- Relevant curricula — Learning materials should be relevant to the girl’s background and be in the local language. They should also avoid reproducing gender stereotypes.