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By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited by Adam Rizvi, New York, TIO:
The female population is still considered as a second-class citizen in India. Access to tools facilitating a healthy life – education, health, and wealth – for a female is disproportionate to males and sustained as a part of the ‘traditional’ mores. Through education, one develops and grows.
Education makes us capable of achieving different skills and being worthy of communicating with others around us in a civilized way. Education plays a crucial role in the advancement of a nation. A nation can be educated in the real sense of the term when its entire population is educated.
Have we ever charged ourselves with basic questions like what is education and why is it important or if it is a basic right for everyone? These questions still make sense and aren’t prejudiced. However, asking that ‘Why is education important for women?’ is a prejudiced view because it delivers us to think that men are entitled to the right to education and maybe women are not.
Education is the basic right of everyone and therefore while providing education facilities, we should not discriminate among genders or sexes. Unfortunately, this discrimination still prevails in many parts of the world and therefore it is a need to make people understand that women also deserve to be educated and it is their basic right too just like men.
According to the statistics released by the latest census of 2011, India’s female literacy rate is 65.46 percent, significantly lower than the world average of 79.7 percent. China, India’s neighbor, and the other global human resource powerhouse precede with 82.7 percent female literacy rate.
Over the years, India’s literacy rate has improved manifold from 12% in 1947 to 74.4% in 2011. Even though, the literacy rate is still below the average of 84% around the world. If we look at the data available to us more closely, as per the 2011 census report, out of 77,84,54,120 individuals who are considered literate in India, 44,42,03,762 of them are male and 33,42,50,358 are female. If we look at the percentage of educated people, there is a huge gap between male (82.14%, in 2011) and female (65.46%, in 2011) literacy rates in India.
The low women literacy rate has tremendous negative repercussions on the overall extension and growth of society – where women are majorly liable for child care and development. As per research results, it is proved that children who are taken care of by educated mothers are well-nourished in terms of an all-rounded development. Though moderate, in the last decade the gender gap is seen to be narrowing rapidly – women’s literacy rate has been growing at 11.8% and men at 6.9%.
Education empowers women with the capacity to think, reason, take appropriate decisions, and protect themselves from oppression & abuse. However, in most of the developing world around the globe including India, women are often denied educational opportunities. Even though women constitute 48% of the total population in India – the women’s literacy rate in the urban area is 79.11% as against 88.76% males, and the figures are even lower in the rural scenario where 57.93% women are literate as against 77.15% literate males. In 2014, India’s GDP growth ranges between 4.6% – 5.3% (1st –3rd Quarter), and this growth percentage drastically improved if women are educated and start contributing equally economically.
As per a UN report, education for women is the single most effective way to improve the lives and health of a family and a society at large. A woman with education is a powerful person, she has the power to educate the children in her family, guide them in taking decisions, contribute economically and offer valuable inputs for improvement on home and social spheres as well as on a developmental personal front. Women constitute almost half of a country’s population when 50% of the population is denied education – a nation remains underdeveloped. Empowered women contribute to the development of the society, community, and nation in diverse ways.
Women who are educated are able to take command of their future. Also, they earn and can contribute to their family income as well as be financially independent.
Women who are educated help reduce child and maternal mortality and are better equipped to take care of their children. One of the most significant benefits women can have been educated in the fact that they are less likely to be taken advantage of and that lowers exposure to domestic abuse.
Furthermore, they have great confidence and take the right decisions which in turn help them to contribute in a positive way to society and the nation at large.
When women are included in key decision-making positions, they take holistic decisions for the development of society. Including women in politics tend to have different growth dimensions.
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Over the years, the literacy rate among Indian women has increased and as per an article in one of India’s leading newspapers – women enrollment for higher studies has increased from 10% (during Independence) to 41.5% in 2011. The Indian government has launched several programs to encourage primary, secondary and higher education for women. However, the progress is albeit slow but moving steadily. The journey to becoming a successful nation begins with Universal Education for Women.
Education indeed makes a person independent. Education provides us with the skills to make ourselves capable of offering services to others and earning a livelihood. If women become educated and earn for themselves then they don’t have to depend on their family for anything. This builds their confidence and makes them take their decision on their own. They realize their worth and their uniqueness. Therefore, education for women is really important in making women independent and confident. India can reach its true potential as a nation only when its women population is equipped with the power of education. It is the basic right for everyone and when we say everyone we should not forget that women are also a part of this lot. Society has a large population of women and we cannot have such a large population as illiterate, it will be our huge loss.
All the girls and women whether they are rich, poor, young, old, married, unmarried, widow, or with any social status have their basic right to education. Education is not a privilege but a fundamental right. ‘Educating a boy is educating a person…Educating a girl is educating a nation’, this statement upholds an undeniable truth.
Many surveys worldwide have confirmed that educating women is the single most profitable investment in terms of the well-being of children’s health, community welfare, and building long-term success in developing countries. Education opens a whole new world of opportunities for young women, it gives them the confidence to tackle different problems of life, become economically independent, make better choices, resolve family or community issues convincingly and stand for their rights. The Indian government and women’s rights organizations should lead the way and educating women needs to be taken seriously as education plays a huge role in making a woman stronger in all walks of her life.