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We have all the same rights

Education is the key to improve human being's lives.
And yet, in some places in the world, we are far from having access to that key.

I was born in a country that suffered during almost 20 years (1973-1990) one of the most atrocious dictatorships in the world. A bloody and violent time where most of the social benefits acquired some years before were eliminated or reduced close to zero. Education (as well as health, housing and retirement plans) became a merchandise: something that had been free and for all for a while, progressively became a luxury for many. This phenomenon affected especially the higher education sector, with tuition fees imposed by the military junta that increased rapidly the following years.

Accessing an education became then a real challenge for more than half of the country. For instance, public spending on education was reduced on a 35% in 1981 (http://www.opech.cl/inv/analisis/acceso.pdf). In a country socially and morally hurt, girls' education was not even a discussion - and discussion at all was banned of the social life.

Growing up in a country like this (impoverished, oppressed, and socially unjust) marked my early childhood. And this didn't seem to change when democracy came back: access to education is still an issue, 23 years after the end of the dictatorship in Chile. Income inequality is one of the highest among the OECD countries (http://www.oecd.org/berlin/47570121.pdf), and women are the most affected by it, which means that access to higher education is highly determined by the place one is born or the wealth of one's family. The other option being to get student loans and a huge debt that will burden you for life.

Today, this inequity is one of the greatest challenge girls confront in my country to accessing an education. However, there are multiple other barriers that prevent us from accessing a quality education. Culturally speaking, our country is still late regarding gender parity: women are generally more affected by poverty than men, and suffer discrimination on the job market and in politics, the media and the family (http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Gender_Equality_in_Chile). In my opinion, this is one of the more pressing issues we need to overcome because it affects every aspect of a girl's life, and sometimes could lead to more serious matters such as domestic violence, lack of respect for women, lack of confidence, etc.

Personally, I experienced first hand said inequality: coming from a poor and broken family (my parents divorced when I was 5), I was destined to finish school and start working to generate a new income for the household. Going to university was a goal and a dream, but without money to pay for my tuition fees, I couldn't do that. Following my mum's advice, I worked hard at school so I could qualify for one of the few scholarships provided - and it worked! I got accepted in the best university in the country (Universidad de Chile) to study Journalism and Communication Studies.

Of course, I was a lucky one among thousand others that everyday fight for a chance like that.

And that's why today I am telling you my story, our story. Because I am also part of that fight, not for me, but for other girls, that are smart, passionate, full of ideas, but don't have the resources nor the information to access to opportunities like the one I had.

Nowadays, there is some great progress in Chile in the fight for a free and equal education for all. The newer generations, born after 1995, are more aware of their rights, especially girls. This has allowed the spreading of a "new conscience", an awareness of our right to be respected, to be seen as equal, and to have the same opportunities as men.

I am thankful for having had the chance to continue my studies further - my life changed and I could change my relative's lives as well. Now I am trying to find the best way to give to other girls that same opportunity, and I guess that through my work in communications for development I am doing a little something.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

Comments

Debra K Adams MA's picture

meaningful experiences

thank for your essay/blog! i have a much better understanding of your country and the impacts on girls and women...we do have a long way to achieve gender parity, I hope I live to see it! keep up your great work!

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio! https://www.vizify.com/debra-k-adams-ma-pdv-cws
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

barbarella's picture

Thank you for reading me! :)

Thank you for reading me! :) I hope this entry will clarify some aspects of social issues in Chile affecting girls and women.

Thank you for this essay!
I have to admit that I wasn't aware about the educational situation in Chile today- and even back then! So your writing really filled me in with new information and a better understanding.
I think your experience (having worked very hard for your scholarship and having succeeded) makes you the perfect ambassador for girls in your country still suffering from inequalities. I'm extremely hopeful to know that strong and inspirational women like you decide to fight for their underprivileged sisters and that you aim to channel your knowledge and expertise you gathered at University there...

Keep it up- I think it's so needed!

Love

Jana

Carmen's picture

You have written so clearly

You have written so clearly about the history and remaining issues in your country regarding women and education. I am so happy you are passionate about helping other girls reach opportunities.

I appreciate the political and statistical information you provided. It helps me to understand your country much better.

Carmen

barbarella's picture

Thankful for your comments

Dear Jana and Carmen,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my post :)

@Jana: I am hopeful that things will be changing soon regarding education in Chile. For some years now there has been a social movement that is fighting for an education for all; this social movement is made of students mostly (secondary and higher ed), and we have seen some female leaders rise. This gives me hope in the future of our society!

@Carmen: Usually, when Chile is featured in the news, it's about their macroeconomic stability. But they forget to mention the pending issues in education and gender equality!

It is my pleasure to share with you and the whole community some 'alternative' points of view!

Warm regards,

Barbarz

milliej7's picture

Thanks for your piece Barbarz

I was particularly interested to read your account of gender roles in education in Chile after having watched John Pilger's documentary "The War on Democracy" earlier this week. Have you seen it? It talks about the atrocities which took place in Chile but doesn't go into detail about gender or education.

I like the way you share your sources and are clearly informed on what is going on in your country. It seems that you have used your education well and are making good use of your voice through journalism. Who else do you write for apart from World Pulse?

I wish you luck in your plight for equality in Chile. May you keep using your voice to inform and inspire!

barbarella's picture

I haven't watched it, but

I haven't watched it, but I'll do! I found it online :)

Currently I'm not writing for any other media, but my blog. I engaged with World Pulse because I really hope to become a correspondent, and since I don't have much spare time during the week, I rather invest it here first. Anyway, this community has inspired me strongly to keep writing and reporting about the situation of girls in my country!

Thanks for your comment :)

estelle's picture

You are indeed a story which

You are indeed a story which education has transformed and ur efforts to transform other girls, keep up girl and transform the world.

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