The International Day of the Girl Child – The Importance of Education

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malala_yousafzai_courage

I listened to an interview on the ABC with Malala Yousafzai on Friday morning on my way to work.  I learned two things, it was the International Day of the Girl Child and that Malala was a strong nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.  I listened with tears in my eyes as she retold her story when she was shot in the head on a school bus by the Taliban in late 2012 in Pakistan for speaking out about the need for girls to be educated.

Mulala was thoughtful, compassionate, and wise beyond her years. Her commitment to girls having a good education is because this is one of the most effective ways to effect change in the world, to bring a more balanced, peaceful world that is more generous and kinder to women and a world that sees men and women as equal.  Her passion made me proud to be a woman.  I am also saddened by our own society where many children see education as a burden and something to be avoided rather than enjoyed and life-giving.

Alongside this, there are organisations like the Australian National Committee for UN Women raising money to stop the 60 million or so young girls forced into marriages when very young, just one of a number of campaigns concerned with the rights of women.  For example:

  • 39,000 girls under the age of 18 are married every day.
  • Stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50 per cent higher among mothers under the age of 20.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 worldwide.
  • Girls with low levels of education are more likely to be married early – those with secondary education are up to six times less likely to marry as children (unwomen.org.au).

I was very disappointed Mulala did not win the Nobel Peace Prize – the message to our leaders around the world about the importance of education and the right of both girls and boys to the same educational opportunities cannot be underestimated.  We still have leaders and fathers, brothers, and husbands believing women are possessions and less valuable than men, so we have a challenge from which we cannot step away.  Mulala reminded us although you can kill an individual you cannot kill or beat an idea out of existence.   It gives me hope for the future with young girls like her stepping into leadership, determined that girls will have the right to a proper, full education like boys and women will be able to live a full life without violence alongside men.  Our world will be a very different and much better place in which to live.

Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Experienced CEO & Board Member, International speaker, published author Anglican Priest, Social Justice Advocate & Activist.

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