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work in order to help support the family. There are also governmental and
religious restrictions that prevent a girl from attending school. In many areas, schools are
not easily accessible and often gender roles claim that girls should remain in the home
while boys are educated. There are plenty of issues that can prevent a child, especially
girls from attending school.
In formal education, females are not given the same opportunities as males, often
due to the opinions formed through informal learning that shapes religious, cultural and
personal beliefs. Close to 62 million girls around the world are not in school.2, which
means a significant portion of the female population is not being educated in school.
Everyday, girls are taken out of school to be married or are forced to work to help support
their family. While many girls are being forced to leave school, many more struggle to
remain in the classroom, which is where they truly belong. Girls who are lucky enough to
be in school suffer from abuse, violence and a lack of sanitary facilities. Often religious
and cultural beliefs, as well as family status, inhibit girls from attending school for more
than two years if at all. It is proven that with education girls will marry four years later
and have 2.2 fewer, yet healthier children, who are more likely to go to school and will be
significantly less likely to suffer from domestic abuse.3 Why are girls not given the same
opportunities as boys? Why should they not be able to decide their own future and the life
they want to have? Girls should be given the same chances as boys and should decide and
create a promising future for themselves and their own children in the future.

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

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Summary of Research Methods Used
This research report was mainly researched on the Safari browser and search
engine Google. The most frequented websites were: Because I am a Girl, The Day of the
Girl and United Nations Girls Education Initiative. Books from the Barrie Public
Library, the Innisdale Secondary School Library and books that I owned were also used
including I am Malala; The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the
Taliban.

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Background
Historically, women have often been considered inferior to men and were meant
to be an object that a man would possess. They should be subservient and docile, while
blending into their surroundings. Women were meant to work in the home, cleaning,
raising children and cooking, while men worked to provide for the family. Women lacked
legal rights and were considered property of their husbands. Today, this is not the case,
and women are considered equal as men in most Western societies. Women now
outnumber men in global university attendance and graduation rates.4 This statistic was
made possible by the hard work done by female activists such as Margaret Fuller, Harriet
Tubman and other hard-working activists. Women were considered to have a lower brain
capacity that could not accommodate an education. After WWII and throughout the late
19th and early 20th century women made significant advances in the fight to become a
citizen under the law. As part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibits
discrimination in education on the basis of sex5, and was one of the few amendments and
acts that helped create equal rights, especially in education for girls in North America.
After Title IX came the Womens Educational Equity Act of 1974, which was an act to
promote equality in education for women and girls who suffer from multiple form of
discrimination based on sex, race, ethnic origin, limited English proficiency, disability or

Chamie, Joseph. (2014, March 6). Women more educated than men but still paidless. Yale global online.
http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/women-more-educated-men-still-paid-less-men
5

Education Equality - Feminist Majority Foundation. (n.d.). Education Equality Feminist Majority
Foundationhttp://www.feminist.org/education/titleix.asp

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age.6 The general assembly then organized the first World Conference on Women in
Mexico City in 1975, which later declared 1976-1985 as the Decade for Women.7
Following the conference the General Assembly adopted CEDAW, Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is often thought of as
an International Bill of Rights for Women. 8 At the fifth Womens Conference was held
in Nairobi, Kenya in 1986, new strategies were discussed to keep progressing in womens
rights, such as gender equality and development and more advanced educational
opportunities.9 All of these events helped bring womens rights in third world countries
into a sharper focus. Girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most
discriminated people on the planet, simply because they are young females. 10 DAWN
was formed, which is the Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, in 1984
by women in developing countries. They work towards economic and gender justice for
women.11 This shows the development by both men and women in developing countries
towards gender and education equality. In developing countries, especially countries
governed by Islam, women are not treated as equal citizens and have severe restrictions.
Women and girls in these places have restricted clothing, education, marriage and speech.

6

Nape. (n.d.). Womens educational equity act. National alliance for partners in equity.
http://www.napequity.org/public-policy/current-laws-and-bills/womens-educational-equity-act/
7

United Nations. (n.d.). Global issues: women. United nations. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/women/

United Nations. (n.d.). Global issues: women. United nations. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/women/

5th womens world conference. (n.d.). 1985 world conference on women. 5th womens world conference.
http://www.5wwc.org/conference_background/1985_WCW.html
10

11

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

DAWN. (n.d.). What we do. Development alternatives with women for a new era.
http://www.dawnnet.org/feminist-resources/about/main

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There are also severe consequences for disobeying these restrictions. Even with all of the
acts and amendments in place today, violent consequences are taken against women and
girls in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone who desire to learn and be better. There is
substantial proof that with an education girls can help make a better future for everyone
as the author and educational activist Adelaide Hoodless states, Educate a boy and you
educate a man, but educate a girl and you education a family.12


12

Civilization.ca - Canadian Personalities - Adelaide Hoodless. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/hist/biography/biographi258e.shtml

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Expert
Sheema Kalbasi was born on November 20, 1972 in Tehran, Iran. She was raised
in Pakistan and Denmark and now currently resides in the United States. Kalbasi
graduated from nursing and social sciences and well as philosophy and religion. Kalbasi
is now a poet, writer, editor, literary translator, researcher and rights activist. She is the
founder and director of several rights and literary projects and works with refugee
children and children from developing countries such as Pakistan and Iran. She has
written two books, The Poetry of Iranian Women and Seven Valleys of Love, which help
give Iranian women a voice, and literacy which they lack in their religion and culture.13
Kalbasi is working to help end oppression against women and girls through a medium
which is highly effective in the Western world. While doing this she is working within
these developing nations to teach young children and women to read and write. She has
won seven awards doing this, including the Human Rights Award and Recognition and
the Pushcart Prize. As an Iranian woman, Kalbasi gives a unique insight into the
oppression and abuse women face in developing countries, especially when it comes to
literacy and education.

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, which in the Swat
Valley district of Pakistan. When Yousafzai was a young child the Taliban began to
move into the Swat Valley, eliminating the tourist economy. Yousafzais father, Ziauddin
Yousafzai, an anti-Taliban activist, supports womens education and opened girls schools
around Swat Valley. Malala attended these schools. As the Taliban began to take over,

13

Kalbasi, Sheema. (n.d.). Official website of Sheema Kalbasi. http://www.sheema.info

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Malalas education was put at risk. In 2008 Malala made her famous speech: How dare
the Taliban take away my basic right to education? and then started blogging for BBC
about girls education, under a fake name for protection. In 2011, Malala won the
Childrens Peace Prize and Pakistans National Youth Peace Prize before she was shot.
When Yousafzai was fourteen the Taliban issued a death threat to her. Her family was not
as concerned for Malala as they were for her father because they believed the Taliban
would not actually harm a child. However they were mistaken, on October 9, 2012 while
riding a bus home from school Malala was shot in the head by a man working for the
Taliban. After being moved and treated in Birmingham, England, Malala recovered while
her cause grew supporters.14 Malala began attending school and Birmingham and
continued to advocate for educational rights, particularly for girls despite the tragedy she
experienced. In 2013 Yousafzai released her book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up
for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which shares her story with the world on a
personal level. Malala was then honored in 2014 by receiving and Nobel Peace Prize.
Simply by going to school and standing up for her cause Malala Yousafzai became a
global teacher for educational and girls rights.


14

Malala Yousafzai. (2014). The Biography.com website. http:// www.biography.com/people/malalayousafzai-21362253.

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Role of Control
In developing countries, girls do not have any control over their education. They
should be able to have control over whether they get the opportunity at an education or
not. There are many organizations working to help girls have control over their education
such as Because I am a Girl, created by Plan, and the Day of the Girl, a North American
movement. Plan states that girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most
disadvantaged people on the planet. Girls are more likely to: live in poverty, be denied
access to education, be denied medical care, be malnourished...simply because theyre
girls. And yet, studies show that investing in girls and ensuring they have enough to eat,
an education and a safe environment is the key to transforming lives, lifting families,
communities, and entire nations out of poverty.15 (See Appendix B). Organizations such
as Plan and Day of the Girl are working with girls and women, governmental leaders,
communities and female activists to help women gain the access to education that they
truly deserve. A primary goal would to ensure that each girl gets a minimum of nine
years of schooling to help prepare for a healthier stronger future.
A main factor of control right now is the government. Without realizing that
helpful impact having educated females would have, there are many issues that stop girls
from going to school that could be fixed by the government. Unsafe travel over long
distances to and from school and the lack of separate latrines (outdoor toilets) for girls are
other reasons why millions of girls are forced to stay out of school and denied an
education.16 As well, many developing countries are poverty stricken and school is not

15
16

Why girls?. (n.d.). Because I am a Girl. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/


Day of the Girl. (n.d.). Day of the girl. http://dayofthegirl.org/girls-denied-education-worldwide/

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free in order to subsidize the cost of the school building and supplies and families can
often not afford the school and uniform fees that are in place. The governments of these
countries do not realize that investing in girls is key to eliminating poverty and creating
a safer, brighter future for everyone. When girls are educated, healthy and informed, they
pull themselves, their children and their communities out of poverty. For every extra year
a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 15 to 25%. If 10% more girls attend
school, a countrys GDP increases by an average of 3%.17 (See Appendix A).
Men also have a great deal of control when it comes to girls education. Cultural,
religious beliefs and traditions enforce the idea that women belong in the home, and not
at school. Eventually they are expected to have a family or work. Men often do not find it
necessary for their daughters to go to school because they must learn how to be a proper
wife by staying home to learn how to cook and clean. Families often chose to invest in
their sons future and education because they stay in the family and carry on the family
name, while girls leave their family to join their husbands family after marriage. This is
reinforcing the stereotype that women belong in the home.18 High rates of child marriage
also mean that girls do not get equal opportunities in education. Girls who get the chance
to go to school have greater respect for themselves, are less likely to be married as a
young women, have 2.2 fewer but healthier children, and be three times less likely to
contract HIV. 19 With the support of parents, especially fathers, girls can help bring their
countries a stronger, more stable future.

17

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

18

Day of the Girl. (n.d.). Day of the girl. http://dayofthegirl.org/girls-denied-education-worldwide/


Day of the Girl. (n.d.). Day of the girl. http://dayofthegirl.org/girls-denied-education-worldwide/

19

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The role of control in the education of girls is a circle because both men and the
government have control, however in developing countries that lack womens rights, the
government is largely made up of men. This means that organizations such as Plan and
Day of the Girl must work even harder to help break the cycle and put more girls in
school than ever before.

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Logic of Evil
In many developing countries where girls are not being educated it is because
family, religion and the government are making choices for these girls because they think
they are helping them and doing what is best for all of their citizens. This in turn causes a
large percentage of the worlds female population to be uneducated. Whether it is for
protection, marriage or poverty, girls families, religion and countries hold them back
from an education.

Girls are often not in school because of the poverty within the country they live.
In developing countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, school is not
free and families choose to send the males in the family to school. They make this choice
because they believe that it is more important to educate their sons because they stay with
the family and the daughters marry into another family. These families think that their
daughters should be working in the home. As well, when families can not afford to send
all of their children to school, because boys are higher priority, girls are forced to go and
work to help pay for family costs. In many places schools are not local and children who
wish to attend school must make long and sometimes dangerous treks, even once they get
to these schools they are not always safe and suffer from violence at school. Families
often choose not to send their daughters because they are considered less able to protect
and defend themselves. Parents choose not to send their daughters in order to protect
them from violence but in turn then expose them other sufferings. One of these sufferings
is child marriage. In developing countries, such as Kenya, Thailand and Iraq, 1 in 3 girls
are married before the age of 18 preventing further education. In many cultures, including

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Indian and Iranian, the goal of a girl to marry into a wealthy prestigious family, forces
girls to drop out of school to learn how to tend to the home. However, marriage is not the
answer to help education. Daughters of young, uneducated mothers are especially likely
to drop out of school, marry young and fall into the cycle of poverty.20 In some religions
and cultures it is against the rules to have boys and girls educated together in one
classroom. In these cases money for education is put towards building schools for boys.
This means in order to find a girls school, it is even harder. Often girls are not safe
walking to these schools and then they do not have time to do household chores and go to
school. This prevents the girls that want to learn from reaching their goals and a better
future. In some rural areas of developing nations the ratio of boys to girls in school is 100
to as little as 41.21In order to end the cycle of poverty and educate girls around the world,
we need to stop child marriage and create safe environments for girls to attend school.


20

21

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

Making room for girls. (2013, November 5). The Economist. March 4, 2015 from http://
www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/11/gender-inequality

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Religion/Spirituality
Religion can be considered a form of education. Religion is taught and followed
generation after generation. There are many different religions in the world and all
religions are practiced differently. Some are more vigorous than others and some evoke
very strict rules. These rules can apply to men, women and children and can dictate many
things, including wardrobe, diet and formal education.

Women account for almost two-thirds of the world's illiterates.22 In 2000 the
World Education Forum met and set goals to reach in 2015. One of those goals was to
have gender equality in education. Of the 128 countries that attend this Forum sixty
percent would not reach the goal that had been set. Of the sixty percent, majority of these
countries were Islamic countries. Islam is often the dominant religion in countries with
the highest levels in gender disparity in education in favor of boys.23 Islam is a
monotheistic religion that is articulated by the Quran. The Quran is an Islamic holy
book that worships Allh, a verbatim of God. There are five pillars of Islam that people
who practice Islam strive to fulfill. In striving to fulfill these five pillars, Islamic people
are often very traditional and established. The people practicing Islam can be considered
established because they are sure of the religion they practice and believe it in wholly.

Often very religious, older men are leaders in local communities. These men
adhere strictly to their religious code. These men often think that women belong in the

22

SelectedWorks of Elizabeth Chamblee Burch. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_burch/4/

23

SelectedWorks of Elizabeth Chamblee Burch. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_burch/4/

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home only. This means they do not get the ability to access their basic right to education.
These girls do not realize that they deserve an education because they have always been
told that the home is where they belong and the only place they will ever have the
opportunity to be.

In order for girls to realize their right to education, the international community
must do so first. Often, international organizations remain silent and do not involve
themselves in this situation until fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban take over.
Extremist groups, such as the Taliban and ISIS, are groups with religious ideologies that
are considered far off the mainstream attitudes of a society, which violate basic moral
standards. These extremist groups take control of territories, such as ISIS in Iraq, Syria
and Libya, and claim authority of military, religion and politics in the areas they have
seized. Once these groups have control, they often close girls schools or inhibit young
women from attending school. They make this possible by threatening and carrying out
bombings and shootings, such as the Malala shooting in 2012. Extremist groups threaten,
often with death, advocates for education, political freedom and freedom of religion
because they do not want an uprising to threaten their power.

These groups strictly monitor and control the education that girls are allowed to
access. They will close girls only schools and often make it very dangerous to get to and
from school. This makes religion very influential on female education. However, old
tribal traditions are also very influential on womens education on top of religion. These
tribes are very traditional and have a very strict heritage. One of the oldest tribes that

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practice Islam is the Pashtun tribe. The origins of this culture are unclear, however they
assert that they descended from Afghana. Most scholars believe that they arose from an
intermingling of ancient Aryans with subsequent invaders.24 While most Pashtun people
are Muslim, a few tribes still follow the first religion the tribe practiced which is the
Sunni Muslim Sect. In each Pashtun village there is often a girls school separate from
the boys school. However, the boys school is often significantly larger, has better
supplies and a significantly greater attendance. The Pashtun traditions state that women
are property of their husband and must do what he wishes. Often that involves staying in
the home so the girls can be proper wives to their future husbands. This also restricts
the access that many females in Islamic countries have to education.

Christianity is often supports female education and in some developed nations


they have their own school board. This allows them to control who attends school and
what they learn. This often makes religion a substantial part of the curriculum. This often
does not affect enrolment and it gives girls an education while teaching them religion.

When the ancient tribal traditions blend with religious traditions and cultures it
helps build a strong barrier for women and girls to attend school and receive on
education. As mentioned before, young girls must realize that they deserve to have an
education before the government of their country and the international community will
help them access it and vice versa.


24

Pashtun | people. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from


http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/445546/Pashtun

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Case Studies
Bangladesh
Bangladesh is growing country with a stable economy in Southern Asia.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with most of the
population crowded around rivers that empty into the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh is a
new independent nation, at only forty-four years of age. On its road to independence
Bangladesh sacrificed many things including the education of the female population.
Bangladesh originated from the separation of East and West Pakistan. East and West
Pakistan were connected through similar religion but were separated by culture and 1000
miles of Indian Territory. Tension grew between the two Pakistans because they were
vastly different in all aspects, however both only educated boys of religious stories and
chants. Even though East Pakistan homed the majority of the population, 56% of it, West
Pakistan had political and economic power. In 1970 East Pakistan won the majority of
seats in the National Assembly. A civil war broke out between East and West Pakistan.
East Pakistan then demanded greater autonomy and the 1970 genocide of the Bengali
people by the West Pakistan government to suppress the calls of independence began. An
independent Bangladesh or Bengali nation was declared after the end of the civil war on
March 26, 1971.25 Until recently the country was politically unstable with every leader
being overthrown in a coup dtat or assassination. Bangladesh spent fifteen years under
military rule and democracy was restored in 1990. Since 2009, when Sheikh Hasina was


25

The Bangladesh Genocide - Virtual Bangladesh. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/the-basics/history-of-bangladesh/independence/bangladesh-genocide/

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sworn in as Prime Minister the country has gained stability and has grown in both
education and health. 26
The main religion in Bangladesh is Islam, with eighty-nine percent of the
population practicing it. The remaining eleven percent of the population practice
Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.27 This leads to the following of the
aforementioned Quran. In the recent years Islamist extremism has risen in a usually
tolerant country. These extremists are trying to gain control of Bangladesh through the
political deadlock that the country is currently in. The extremists are also increasingly
violent leading to closing girls schools in the country due to dangerous conditions. Given
its past use of Islam for legitimacy, a return to power by the military could create further
opportunities for Islamists in Bangladesh.28
Poverty in Bangladesh is deep and widespread because of the large population. In
helping education and health become safer and more accessible the country has worked
to cut down population growth.29 This growth has allowed Bangladesh to make
significant increases in access to education on the primary level. However, secondary and
tertiary education is still an issue in Bangladesh. While the enrolment rate is relatively
equal, the completion rate is much higher for males than it is for females. (See Appendix
D). For females, the drop out rate is high and the quality of the education for girls who

26

(n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from http://www.infoplease.com/country/bangladesh.html?pageno=3


Religions Practised in Bangladesh. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
http://www.bangladesh.com/religion/
27

28

29

(n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RS22591.pdf

Bangladesh country profile - Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12650940

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are able to remain or attend school is very low.30 The educational system in Bangladesh is
a three-tiered system that is highly subsidized by the government of Bangladesh. The
government operates schools in the primary, secondary and tertiary level and the three
systems in Bangladesh are split into five levels; Primary, Junior, Secondary, Higher
Secondary and Tertiary.31 The higher the level of education, the lower the enrolment for
girls.
These things occur because of many barriers that girls must face in order to attend
school. The strongest of these barriers are: lack of female educators, child brides and
child trafficking prevent women from pursuing an active education. One of the barriers
girls face is the lack of female teachers and trained educators in general. In such a
densely populated country, with an abundance of children, it is hard to have enough
teachers to educate them all. This leads to boys being educated as opposed to both girls
and boys. If there is a girls school, the environment is often unhealthy, with abusive
teachers and unsanitary or no facilities for women. As well as not having proper facilities,
schools lack materials for learning because there are so many children to educate. This is
a factor of the still growing gender inequality. While gender inequality has balanced out
in primary education, it is still a huge issue in secondary and tertiary education.
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child brides in the world. The legal age
to marry in Bangladesh is eighteen, however seventy-four percent of the population is


30

UNITED NATIONS GIRLS EDUCATION INITIATIVE. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/index.html
31

Education in Bangladesh - Virtual Bangladesh. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from


http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/the-vitals/education/

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married younger than the legal age. 32 In Bangladesh and in Islamic faith once a girl is
married she must work in the home and quit her education. Also, it is ideal is Bangladesh
to try to marry a daughter into a wealthy family. To accomplish this daughters start
training to be a proper wife at a very young age, dropping out of school to cook, clean
and learn how to tend to children and elders. Once a girl married she is no longer
considered property of her father but of her husband. Often if a father encourages a
daughter to go to school, her husband will not. Arranged and child marriages hinder a
girls ability to attend school and get an education.

Child trafficking is another larger barrier to female education. Bangladesh is a


major global trafficking spot and each year numerous women, children and even men are
taken from their homes to be sold and exploited. While men are often sold into forced
labour, women and children are sold to the growing sex industry. In the world
approximately twenty million people are affected by the sex industry and a large majority
of these people are in developing countries, with the most prominent flow in Eastern
Asia. Seventy five percent of all trafficking victims are women and girls. 58% of the 75%
is sexual exploitation33 Often the poorest of families in Bangladesh will sell their
daughters for five thousand taka which is approximately eighty Canadian dollars. This is
the average Bangladeshi salary for a month. The most vulnerable people in Bangladesh
are the poor women and young girls who wander the streets looking for handouts and
work. They are easily kidnapped and sold by the kidnappers to India, where brothels are

32

UNITED NATIONS GIRLS EDUCATION INITIATIVE. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/index.html
33

Human trafficking in and from Bangladesh | The National. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/the-review/human-trafficking-in-and-from-bangladesh

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filled with Bengali and Nepalese people.34 When girls are kidnapped to be sold or sold
by family it takes away every chance of going to school that they have. When in brothels
girls are not allowed to attend school or have an education because they would have to
work all day to make money to give to the owner. If they do not have an acceptable
amount of money at the end of the day they will be punished. If they are sold for labour
reasons they would also not be able to attend school as they would be forced to work
long, grueling hours all day.

As mentioned before many girls are married as children and Bakul is only one of
the many girls that face this reality. Bakul was married at age 15 to a man who is four
years older than her. She was pressured into marrying her husband because he was an
orphan and in it is believed by most Muslim people that helping the orphaned people
should be a priority. She was told if she did not run away with this man that he would
commit suicide. Now Bakul is 17 and has a daughter who is eight months old. Bakuls
mother was also married as a teenager at the age of 13. Child marriage often occurs in
families, throughout generations. Bakul left school once she was married. It is her
primary responsibility to take care of her child and family. Bakul claims to feel bad that
she doesnt get to go to college with her friends but she knows her options are limited.
Having her own home and family is expensive, as is schooling. Often they cannot afford
basic necessities so Bakul could not afford to go to school even if her mom would look
after her daughter. Bakul says I really regret getting married so young. I had so much
freedom before and didnt have to care about my family and responsibilities. My parents

34

Human trafficking in and from Bangladesh | The National. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/the-review/human-trafficking-in-and-from-bangladesh

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often remind me that this is what I have done to myself.35 Education is pivotal to fight
against child marriages like Bakuls. When girls go to school it means that they will
marry and have children later giving them a better chance of finding work and taking
control of their own lives.

Bangladesh has set many goals that have been met to help improve gender
equality and girls education. They have reached gender equality in the primary level but
still have a lot of work to do to reach equality in the secondary and tertiary level. In order
for Bangladesh to help create this equality and give girls a better opportunity in education
they must continue to break down the barriers that girls must face to attend school.


35

"Facing Married Life in Bangladesh: Bakul's Story - Girls Not Brides." Girls Not Brides. Web. 7 May
2015.

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Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a fragile state with a public sector that has limited capacity and
lacks basic facilities that would allow it to deliver adequate services to majority of the
population.36 It is still recovering from years of turmoil and abuse and still faces many
issues including corruption, security threats and a weak administration of the basic
human rights.

Sierra Leone is a small country on the western coast of Africa nestled between
Guinea and Liberia. The Bulom, Temne and Mende people were the first tribes to ever
inhabit Sierra Leone in the fifteenth century. The Portuguese people were the first
Europeans to explore Sierra Leone and gave the country its current name. The British
people then also started to settle in the new country. Sierra Leone became an independent
nation on April 27, 1961. A military coup dtat then overthrew the civil government in
1967 that was then returned to civilian rule a year later. The country was then declared as
a republic in 1971. In 1971 there was another coup and armies from Guinea were brought
in for two years. In 1978 the country became a one party country and in 1996 rebel
soldiers then overthrew the government demanding a multiparty system. Tejan Kabbah
became Sierra Leones first democratically elected president in 1996. Another violent
military coup overthrew the new democratic government in 1997 and lead to a violent
civil war. The conflict was officially declared over in 2002 and an estimated fifty
thousand people were slaughtered in the decade long war. The UN instilled its largest
peacekeeping mission with seventeen thousand troops and deems Sierra Leone one of the

36

UNITED NATIONS GIRLS EDUCATION INITIATIVE. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/sierraleone_339.html

Feinstein 24
least livable counties in the world due to poverty and poor living conditions. The
government once again became democratic. The recent Ebola outbreak of March 2014
devastated the country with over one thousand five hundred people killed and over seven
thousand confirmed cases. The country went into a three-day lock down and was deemed
the worse outbreak of Ebola since its discovery forty years ago.37

Currently 69% of primary school aged children are attending primary school.
While there are almost no gender gaps in the primary children that are attending school,
there are significant gaps in basic, secondary and tertiary education. 66% of women do
not have any education. These gender gaps are a product of many barriers and
circumstances that girls must overcome in order to attend school.

The first and most prominent of these barriers is poverty. 60% of the population
lives under the national poverty line and are heavily dependent on aid.38 Poverty forces
the young girls in Sierra Leone to abandon their education to work to help support their
large families. Families in Sierra Leone average from four to five children per family.
The eldest daughter in each family is expected to not attend school to work and take care
of the younger children in the family.

Sierra Leone also has a very low level of female literacy. Girls do not attend
school when they are young and when they have children, those children will not be
taught to read because their mother cannot. This continues the cycle of women not being

37

(n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from http://www.infoplease.com/country/sierra-leone.html?pageno=4


About Sierra Leone. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.sl.undp.org/content/sierraleone/en/home/countryinfo.html
38

Feinstein 25
able to read and attend school. Often schools in Sierra Leone will discourage kids who do
not already know how to read because the schools do not have the resources or time to
teach children older than six to read. If girls do not get the chance to start school at a
young age and learn to read than the cycle will continue and her children will not be able
to read either.

Cultural practices are also a large barrier that women must overcome to attend
school in Sierra Leone. The legal age to marry is eighteen years of age, however, 56% of
girls are married under this legal age. Islam is the most prominent religion in Sierra
Leone. Child marriage and the Islamic religion both add to the preconceived idea that a
girls place is in her home, learning to be a good wife and mother and then actually doing
that once she is married. This mindset and traditions are detrimental to the education of
girls.

Another barrier girls must face is cost of schooling. A new policy has been
recently introduced that ensures all primary schooling is free. However, there is not
always enough schools and there are other costs besides tuition. The cost of uniforms,
food, transportation and books are prohibitive to girls actually attending school. The
average income in Sierra Leone is $340 per year, which is living on approximately one
dollar per day. The low income means that families cannot afford to pay extreme school
fees. The money is spent on food and healthcare.

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Despite the many barriers girls in Sierra Leone face in the path of education, there
are girls who succeed in going to school. Hawa Marrah is a 12-year-old girl from Kabala,
a rural town located in Northern Sierra Leone. Kabala is an agrarian community with an
Islamic primary school. Hawa has recently taken the National Primary School
Examination and passed the exam with 63%. This is considered a very high score in the
rural parts of Sierra Leone. Hawa fought against the barriers she faces in her community
such as a lack of electricity, forcing her to study using candles, to provide herself with an
education. Hawa says I feel so privileged to have taken the exams and passed with high
grades like children in other areas of the country who have better facilities. I am so proud
I made it!39 Many of Hawas peers have left school due to early marriage and
pregnancy. They have fallen victim to the cultural and traditional prejudices that
continue to keep them at home instead of in school. 40 Hawa has become optimistic that
she will continue her education and aims to become a medical doctor is the future to help
reduce child and maternal mortality to help more girls attend school. Hawa also believes
that if more girls education initiatives are promoted that a sufficient number of girls will
be encouraged to do more and their potential can be recognized in society.

There are many programs in Sierra Leone to help close the gender gap and get
girls into school. UNGEI was launched in Sierra Leone in 2005 and is partners with many
worldly organizations such as ActionAid, Cause Canada and UNICEF. There has been

39

Facing married life in Bangladesh: Bakul's story - Girls Not Brides. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2015, from
http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/girls-voices/facing-married-life-in-bangladesh-bakuls-story/
40

Facing married life in Bangladesh: Bakul's story - Girls Not Brides. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2015, from
http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/girls-voices/facing-married-life-in-bangladesh-bakuls-story/

Feinstein 27
progress such as a creation of a database, gender analysis of the curriculum, training for
teachers and advocacy.
With continued work to improve the living conditions in Sierra Leone more girls
will be able to get into the classroom and create a better future for themselves and their
future children.

Feinstein 28
Pakistan
Pakistan is a growing economy and country but they do still have widespread
issues such as poverty and security. Pakistan was originally composed of different
religious tribes that surrounded the Indus River. In the 1700s the Persians and Afghans
challenged the Mughal ruler, a Muslim dynasty. Conflict was spreading and outside
powers were encouraged to intervene. This then lead to the colonization by Britain in the
mid nineteenth century. There were issues between the British rulers of Pakistan and the
rulers of neighboring Afghanistan. This resulted in the marking of the Durand Line in
1893 that split the Pashtun community. Today it is the border between Pakistan and
Afghanistan. Pakistan was one of the two successor states of British India. For nearly
twenty-five years there were two regions of Pakistan that lived peacefully together, they
were East and West Pakistan. After East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan
now only consists of the Western section. Pakistan became a republic on March 23, 1956
and was under military rule for the next two decades. Pakistans first civil vote was in
March 1977 and the victory of the Pakistan Peoples Party was declared fraudulent.
Violence and protest lead to a coup less than a month later. After military rule of eight
years, a representative government was restored. Throughout the 1990s Pakistan had a
shaky succession of governments. Another coup in 1999 was seen as a step forward for a
country that had been under military rule for 25 of their 52 year existence. After 9-11,
close ties with Afghanistan were ended leading to a closer relationship with the United
States. Possible nuclear war with India was also a major threat. Pakistan has launched
many efforts to combat al-Qaeda and the Taliban but they still remain a target for Islamic
extremism. Over the past several years Pakistan has increased spending on healthcare and

Feinstein 29
education. However they have reduced spending on water and sanitation. Pakistan still
has a very unstable government today with plenty of coups and assassinations and is still
fighting for a democratic country.41

Pakistan has some of the worst global indicators in the world for education with
over five million children not in school. Two-thirds of children not in school in Pakistan
are girls. Almost fifty million adults in Pakistan are illiterate with two-thirds of those
people being women.42

Poverty is very widespread and prominent in Pakistan. An unstable government


and political standing have led to civilians being forced to go without basic services. The
average income is approximately six hundred Canadians dollars per month. That is often
not enough for Pakistani people to pay for the average living costs, let alone education
fees for the average five children that are in a Pakistani family.43 In order for girls to
attend school in Pakistan it must be made more accessible for the average family with
subsidized school programs. Only 10% of all government spending goes to education as
opposed to the 70% that is spent on the military.44 Without subsidized schooling girls will
no be able to attend school or give their future children a better. Gaining access for
females in education is vital to help lift the country out of poverty.

41

Pakistan. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from http://www.factmonster.com/country/pakistan.html


(n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/EDUCATION_IN_PAKISTAN__A_F
ACT_SHEET.pdf
43
(n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/EDUCATION_IN_PAKISTAN__A_F
ACT_SHEET.pdf
44
(n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/EDUCATION_IN_PAKISTAN__A_F
ACT_SHEET.pdf
42

Feinstein 30

Because the country cut down spending on water and sanitation children are now
more prone to malnutrition and disease. This has lead to a large majority of children
being underweight and susceptible to illness such as polio, which has not yet been
eradicated. Because a large section of the population lives in poverty they do not have
sophisticated water treatment plants which give access to clean drinking or bathing water.
Through this water they can contract many illnesses such as typhoid fever and cholera.
When girls are ill they are not allowed to go to school and if they have ill family
members they are expected to stay home and care for them. This also prevents them from
going to school to get an education. The idea that a girls needs are less important than
her families need is indefensible and is detrimental to a girls education, self esteem and
future life.

The government does not fund education and many children do not attend school.
Only 66% of the children in Pakistan attend primary school.45 This means these children
cannot get jobs when they are older because they lack the basic skills that are required
that they would have been taught in primary school. This is very hurtful to the economy
of Pakistan. With a large proportion of the population unemployed the government is
forced to try and subsidize them all. However, if the government chose to subsidize
schooling then more children would be educated and could get jobs in the future which
would break the cycle of unemployed and poverty stricken families.


45

NATIONS GIRLS EDUCATION INITIATIVE. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from


http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/pakistan_3966.html

Feinstein 31
Gender inequality is very high and one of the highest in the world in Pakistan.
This can be attributed to Islam extremism. Islam is the foremost religion in Pakistan and
is a target for extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban. These groups are highly
religious and believe that members of society who are not at their religious level and
follow their standards should be punished. They also believe that educating females is not
a benefit to society but a hindrance as giving females an education helps give them a
voice, which in turn gives them a chance of speaking and standing up for themselves.
Religious extremist men desire for women to be subservient by doing as they are told, not
what they want to do. Giving girls an education will teach them that they can think for
themselves. Groups like the Taliban find this so dangerous that they take drastic measures
to ensure girls do not attend school.

The shooting of Malala Yousafzai is an example of these drastic measures. While


on a bus home from school Malala was shot by a member of the Taliban for standing up
for her right to education. Malalas father, Ziauddin, has been a supporter of girls
education since early adulthood and founded schools in North-western Pakistans Swat
Valley. He is one of the few Pakistani men who openly support female education without
fear of the Taliban and is an anti-Taliban activist. As a young girl, Malala began to attend
these schools and secretly write about what education is like for girls in Pakistan. The
Taliban began attacking the girls schools because they did not believe that girls should
be educated. Malala then began to publicly challenge what the Taliban was doing by
blogging for BBC and making public speeches. Her and her father became a target for the
Taliban and they were threatened with death. However, Malalas family did not believe

Feinstein 32
that the Taliban would actually harm a young girl. They were sadly mistaken and a
militant for the Taliban shot Malala in the head while she was coming home from school.
Malala was immediately treated in Peshawar, Pakistan and then went to receive further
medical care and security in Birmingham, England. After extensive medical care Malala
started to attend school in Birmingham where she currently resides. Malala survived the
attack and is now a world renowned advocate and activist for girls education. There is a
fund for girls education in honor of Malala called the Malala Fund and in 2014 Malala
received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in supporting girls education. Malala is now
described as a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going
to school became a global teacher. 46

There are plans and organizations such as UNICEF, UNGEI and Plan who are
aiming to help children, especially girls who are denied an education. However, it is
difficult because Pakistan is growing increasingly more dangerous. The Taliban and ISIS
often threaten those who speak out to support girls education with death.

If more girls in Pakistan believe they deserve an education like Malala then the
Pakistani educational system would be in a much better place and more girls would be
educated and could provide a better life for themselves and future families.


46

Malala Yousafzai. (2014). The Biography.com website.


http:// www.biography.com/people/malala-yousafzai-21362253.

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International Organizations
The education of girls has been a developing issue for a very long time but there
are many foundations and organizations dedicated to bringing gender equality to
education which helps greatly improve their lives and the lives of their future children.
The main organizations working to improve girls education are UNICEF, UNGEI and
BECAUSE I AM A GIRL.

UNICEF is the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund.


UNICEF is an organization that promotes the well-being and rights of every child in the
world. They work with disadvantaged children including those in fragile situations,
disabled children and those affected by rapid urbanization and environmental degradation
in over 190 countries. The purpose is to provide a way to overcome obstacles such as
poverty, violence, disease and discrimination that appear in a childs path.47 UNICEF
also strongly promotes girls education and makes an effort to have every girl finish
primary school at the minimum. UNICEF also believes that a girls education is a basic
right and crucial lever to reaching other developmental goals in growing nations. They
have started many programs and initiatives such as the Innovations in Education, the Out
of School Initiative and Learning for Peace. The goal of these programs is to provide a
safe and sanitary environment for children, especially girls to learn in.48


47

Who we are. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from


http://www.unicef.org/about/who/index_introduction.html
48

Who we are. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from


http://www.unicef.org/about/who/index_introduction.html

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UNGEI is the United Nations Girls Education Initiative. This initiative was
founded in 2000 after the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The Initiative is a
collective partnership of organizations that are dedicated to closing the gender gap in
primary and secondary education. Their goals include having equal access to free, quality
education for girls and boys and bringing focus onto marginalized groups in education.
UNGEI fully embraces the United Nations system, governments, donor countries and
non-profit organizations. UNICEF is a large and vital part of UNIGEI, as well as World
Vision and Plan. UNGEI relies on these alliances to help mobilize and fund interventions
and projects around the world in developing nations.

BECAUSE I AM A GIRL is an initiative that was started by Plan International.


Plan International was funded in 1937 and supported children throughout the world for
over 75 years by working with the children, their families and their communities. It is a
global initiative that aims to end gender inequality, promote girls rights and lift millions
of girls and the people around them out of poverty. The global goal of Because I Am A
Girl is to support four million girls in getting an education, skills and support they need to
move from poverty to opportunity. Because I Am A Girl also aims to feed, nourish and
house girls to give them the best opportunity they can.49 Because I Am A Girl
encourages women who are privileged enough to receive an education to get involved
with one of the many fundraising opportunities that Because I Am A Girl offers.

These three organizations, as well as many other organizations and charities that
were not mentioned are vital to improving the education of girls in developing nations.

49

Plan. (n.d.). Because I am a girl. Plan. http://becauseiamagirl.ca/girlseducation

Feinstein 35
Improving the education that girls receive and giving them equal access will allow girls
to uplift everyone around them and give women the chance they deserve.

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Canadian Connections
Today Canada is very lucky to have equal access to education. There does not
appear to be an issue with educating females in Canada and girls are even considered
ahead of boys in some aspects of education. In North America, girls have made
significantly higher grades throughout all subjects in a school year for over a century. 50
In the past girls were educated at home by private tutors, however, by the mid nineteenth
century, when public schools opened, an equal number of boys and girls were enrolled.
Families also started using contraception to have smaller families in order to provide a
better quality of life and a better education.51 By 1900 schoolteachers were
predominantly female because they could be hired at lower wages. While there was
opportunity at the secondary level, women were often kept at the primary level so male
administrators could supervise them. Today, women make the same salary as men in the
education system.

The educational system in Canada is continually growing. In Canada, from 19992009 the number of adults with a tertiary education increased from thirty-nine percent to
fifty percent.52 This allows for more educated teachers that are equally distributed
between male and female. However, women are still troubled by hiring discrimination in
Canada in the education sector. More than ninety five percent of preschool and
kindergarten teachers are female while more than ninety percent of university professors

50

Girls Make Higher Grades than Boys in All School Subjects, Analysis Finds. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7,
2015, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/04/girls-grades.aspx
51
History of Education. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/history-of-education/
52
Education Indicators in Canada: Fact Sheets. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-599-x/81-599-x2012008-eng.htm

Feinstein 37
are male. Women professors make significantly less than male professors in every rank
and age group. The public school system is very coeducational, however this is for
convenience and cost as opposed to similar needs between male and female students.

Females are also more likely to do better in school and attend school for longer in
Canada. Males and females also tend to study different courses in high school and in
university. This is often a product of the sexually segregated work world. Men are
encouraged to take mathematics, physics and chemistry, while women are encouraged to
take home economics, languages and business. This helps maintain the sexually
segregated world in Canada.

Canada is very focused on helping evolve the education of girls in third world,
developing countries. As a first world country, Canada is able to help reduce the abuse
and discrimination that the girls in countries such as Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and
Pakistan must face on a daily basis. Canada promotes that there is many things to do to
help these girls and that educating a girl helps her whole community. Canada is also part
of many educational programs such as Plan Canada, Because I Am A Girl, UNICEF and
UNGEI.

However, Canada also must look at home, into itself and realize that there is still
also discrimination towards educators. In Canada, more opportunities must be given to
women to work in higher educational and business positions such as economics and
politics. Progress is being made such as Rachel Notley being voted the Premier of

Feinstein 38
Alberta recently. Notley is taking control of her situation and empowering women across
Canada while doing so. However, there are still steps that must be taken. Equality will be
reached when Canadian women fight for the higher, male dominant jobs and pass these
ideals onto their future daughters.

Feinstein 39
Solutions
There is not a simple, quick solution to solve the global issue of educating girls.
There are many factors that must be considered with an issue of this magnitude and it will
be a long process to eradicate the problem. There are many things that must be done, but
the first of the actions taken must be educating boys and men of gender equality and
educating the government on what gender equality is and how it can help. Girls must also
be given a safe, sanitary space to learn with safe transportation. Finally, the world must
empower women and girls and give them a voice that they deserve and need.

The first step is teaching men and boys about gender equality and what it means.
Without the support of husbands, brothers and uncles, girls will not be educated and the
high levels of discrimination will continue. Boys must be taught from a young age that
girls are equal to them, not inferior. This would be the start to creating a discrimination
free learning environment for girls. This will also break down many barriers that girls
face in the world of education.

The government must also be aware of how educating girls can be beneficial for
the community and the whole country. In any situation the support of the government
makes the action process much more effective and plausible. The government must
understand the benefits of female education to help support gender equality.
Governmental support will give girls the foundation they need to fight for and promote
their education.

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In order to create safe transportation and a safe learning environment for girls,
these countries need funds to develop their education system. Often the poorest countries
have the worst gender gap in education because they make the conscious decision to help
only the males. Financial aid and funding would allow these countries to open safe and
accessible schools for girls with the proper female educators that girls often require.
Financially helping these countries and making sure the funds go to female education
would help girls get into classrooms for the education that they need.

The world must also empower these women. In order to get girls into the
classroom they must believe that they belong there. If not, they will be much more likely
to drop out and not finish their education. All members of society must teach these girls
that they belong in school and they do deserve more than working for their husbands in
their homes. All people in a community benefit from an educated women and it then
benefits her children, her grandchildren and so on. (See Appendix C). Empowerment is a
very crucial part of helping girls receive education that every child in the world deserves.

Feinstein 41
Conclusion
In conclusion, equality in education is a daunting task but it has an optimistic
future. Governments are taking large strides to improve the accessibility and safety for
girls wishing to attend school. Governments are also realizing the importance of
educating girls and how it will positively affect the whole population and community. As
the governments and religious groups continue to realize the positive affects it will be
easier to educate girls all over the world.