Educating ourselves through girls
‘When you educate a man you educate an individual; when you educate a woman you educate a whole family.’
This quote by Robert Morrison MacIver, which states the Multiplier Effect of women’s education and empowerment, is backed by data. But these figures also declare how dismal are the state of affairs when it comes to women’s education.
Discrimination against girls is seen at every step. Education of girls is seen as unnecessary, as their aim is to be married and fulfill their reproductive duties. Superstitions also rule here, educating a woman was seen to have repercussions in her husband, saying he would die if the wife is literate. Similar, to caste, women had a place in society and there were methods to make sure no one challenges it. However, the situation is changing. Our freedom struggle showed how women could be an asset and were no less than men. Notably, the first supporters of Gandhi were women. Recently, the amount of women joining the workforce is increasing. This has obviously led to a greater impact on women education.
My reflections on education and its concerns with women are also through personal experiences. Coming from a highly segregated society when it comes to gender, been schooled in an all-female environment, I never felt I was less than a boy, having participated in all sports and different academic subjects. There were obviously, some INDIVIDUALS who might have not been not that good in an aspect. However, I never assumed it was due to gender. In college, I noticed some small things which have been backed by analyses. Studies have shown how women tend to build more leadership skills in an all female environment than a coeducational one. There is a tendency to take a backseat when males are present. My co-educational college has had rarely any women running for college president post. There is a need to expose any unconscious apprehensions that occurs in our society. Women need a space to know that their opinions matter.
Girls have done better than boys in the board exams (common exams for 12th standard students) in India. However, this is not seen after school. There are a lot of societal pressures for girls to be married by a certain age, which dissuades them to take academics seriously. Women are characterized to be suitable at the social sciences than any technical subjects. There is no overt discrimination, however, data has shown how girls do not choose to study mathematics and sciences at higher degree. Glass ceilings are an evident phenomenon, where the prospect of women entering the higher position in an organization is difficult. This is seen in the academic sphere, where high posts/professors (even in the social science departments) are men!
Education as a mean is an important. Educating girls is important, but the kind of education imparted also has place. India, known for its bias toward girls, has many issues it needs to tackle. Economics, I feel plays an important part to it. When women can be and are economically independent, their worth in society rises, despite any ingrained prejudiced. However, we also need to make the infrastructure and security for women to have this chance.
Education, as an end itself, making sure we have enlightened individuals. This would be done best if we concentrate on women, as women are caregivers of society and help in developing a more conscience society. Their influence and impact of educating a girls, themselves leads to educating a family, a society, a world.