by Roja Sonikar
One primary focus of the Thaakat foundation is addressing inequities in the treatment of women throughout the world. Education is a key element of female empowerment as girls and women worldwide have much lower access to education compared to men. According to Unicef, there are more than 5.5 million out-of-school girls than boys. Though this number has decreased over the years, global progress has been stagnant in reducing the number of out-of-school children.
The impact of a shortage of female education can be devastating on women and their communities in several ways. A study by the world bank outlines six domains impacted by higher rates of secondary education in girls and women..
- Earnings and standards of living: Compared to women without a formal education, women with a secondary education make twice as much, and women with a tertiary education make three times as much. Women with higher levels of education also report higher standards of living and labor force participation.
- Child Marriage and Early Childbearing: With each additional year of secondary education comes to a lower risk of marrying and having a child before 18 by an average of six percentage points.
- Fertility and Population Growth: Universal secondary education could increase the use in modern contraceptives by a fourth and reduce total fertility by a third in 18 developing countries. This impact comes not only from education by from reducing child marriages.
- Health, nutrition, and well-being: A women’s knowledge of HIV/AIDS also increases by one-fifth nationally with universal access to secondary education, as well as their ability to make decisions about their own healthcare. There are also significant reductions in stunting rates in children, child mortality, and risk of intimate partner violence with higher attainment in secondary education.
- Agency and Decision-Making: A women’s ability to make decisions within the household also increases with the attainment of secondary education by a tenth. This increase in agency is also followed by higher birth registration in some countries with higher education rates.
- Social Capital and Institutions: Secondary education improves social relationships in women, as many report being more able to rely on friends when in need. It also enables women to partake in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or charity work.
[source: world bank]
The DREAMS project in Karachi, Pakistan aims to increase opportunities for women to attain secondary education. There is an assortment of facilities Thaakat supports, with 3 campuses, an intermediary college, a women’s skills training center, and a medical facility. The student body is 49% female, with an 80% female student body at the intermediary college. Women being educated from these colleges are able to go on to higher education or resume careers and contribute to their communities.