Education opens doors to new possibilities, especially for women. It’s not just about learning to read and write, but gaining the confidence to make choices that can change their lives for the better. It’s a step towards equality, offering the opportunity to succeed in whatever they choose to do. 

Through lifelong learning, women become stronger and more capable of providing for themselves and their families. It doesn’t stop at any age and it encourages curiosity. It continuously provides new skills, new interests, and opportunities at every stage of life, including the potential for online healthcare courses that can be pivotal in underserved communities.

The Current Landscape of Women’s Education

Education is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, according to UNESCO. Despite this, women and girls worldwide have been denied this right resulting in a significant gap between men and women.

In many countries, particularly those with high levels of poverty, the notion of educating women has not been prioritised and is often disregarded as unnecessary.

While there has been progress, with more girls attending school than ever before, the reality remains stark in developing countries. Here, girls are deliberately kept out of school, and even when they can attend, they face substantial obstacles in pursuing further education.

Discrimination remains a significant barrier, preventing women from both entering and completing higher levels of education. This ongoing issue not only hampers the empowerment of women but also prevents societal growth and development.

Why Education is Key to Women’s Empowerment

Education is fundamentally linked to women’s empowerment for several reasons:

Combating Poverty

Education is vital in breaking the cycle of poverty. Educated women are more likely to secure employment and are less likely to be forced into dangerous work such as the illegal sex trade. With employment comes financial stability and educated mothers can better provide for their families. 

Learning about Family Planning

Knowledge about contraception and family planning gained through education can prevent early and forced marriages. Uneducated women are three times more likely to marry before the age of 18 which prevents their personal growth and increases their exposure to marital violence.

Preventing Malnutrition and Disease

Education plays a pivotal role in combating disease and malnutrition – which is the cause of nearly half of all deaths in children under five in developing countries. When girls receive secondary education, they are better equipped to make informed decisions on their health.

Increasing Earning Potential

Just one year in primary school can increase a woman’s earning potential by up to 20%, while secondary education can significantly enhance her capacity to earn and expand her employment choices. This financial independence is key to enabling women to support themselves and their families.

Driving Economic Education Development

Since women make up more than half the population in many countries, their active participation in the workforce is essential for societal progress. Educating women equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the economic development of their communities.

Enabling Political Participation

Women’s perspectives are crucial in politics, and the inclusion of women ensures that policies address the needs of the entire population, not just men. Education fosters women’s political involvement and is crucial for those aiming to advance as leaders and entrepreneurs.

Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Lifelong Learning

As the world rapidly evolves, it has become essential for everyone to keep up with these ever-increasing changes. Education systems are also changing and there are more and more opportunities for learning outside of traditional schools.

Although educational resources are more accessible now from young to old age, the availability of lifelong learning is still scarce in many developing countries, particularly for girls and women.

Considering that two-thirds of educationally deprived young people are girls, it’s clear that they should be the focus of our efforts. The empowerment of women through education has now been recognised as one of the most powerful forces for development in low-income countries, yielding benefits that stretch across the entire community. 

The international community must continue to prioritise and facilitate access to education for girls worldwide. Ensuring that women can follow lifelong learning is not just about promoting gender equality; without access to education, there can be no empowerment for women.