Nadine is 6 years old and when she grows up she wants to be a doctor. Helene is 7 years old and it’s clear to her that she wants to be an engineer. On the other hand, her sister Wefa dreams of becoming a teacher. Solange, 5 years old is still not sure, there are days when she wants to be a lawyer and others when she talks about being the first astronaut to set foot on Mars.
However, none of them is going to have it easy to fulfill their dreams. That’s why International Girls‘ Day is so important to our calendar, but also to our efforts to improve their situation around the world.
The present of girls
A few years ago it was former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon who made it clear that what all children have in common throughout the world are their rights: “Every child has the right to survival and development, to education, to a life free from violence and abuse, to participation and to listening.
Despite considerable progress over the past two decades, the situation in low-income countries in terms of girls’ education is discouraging: less than two thirds of girls in these places complete primary school, and only one in three girls complete lower secondary school. There are around 10 million more girls in the world than boys who are not in school.
The majority, 83 per cent, are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific according to UNICEF data. Education should be an essential part of their lives: on average, women who have a secondary education are more likely to work and earn almost twice as much as those who do not have an education.
The future of girls
Their future is conditioned from a very early age. These small but brave girls have to face numerous barriers since they were born exclusively because of their status as women. The most common obstacles between them and their dreams are:
- In some families, educating girls is seen as a loss of income and time that could be invested in domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning or caring for siblings. As well as other activities that would bring benefits such as collecting food, water or fuel.
- Many low-income families prioritize the continuation of their son’s secondary education over that of their daughters because they consider them to be a greater guarantee of income when they grow up.
- In economic terms