Meet Vivian. She is 12 years old. We met while she was fetching water to clean the greens she had picked that morning. Today she has one task, sell those greens and bring some money home to help support the 11 people at home.
The One Campaign recently published an index of the worst places to be a girl and go to school. The Voice of America said of that study that, "girls are least likely to be in school in South Sudan, with nearly three-quarters of school-age girls out of the classroom. Thousands of girls are kept from school due to poverty, early marriage, dangers in traveling to class and having too many chores at home, according to the United Nations' children's organization, UNICEF. "
So How does a young girl gain the schooling she needs in order to reach her full potential when it seems like everything is stacked against her?
Water is Basic is making a difference in the lives of young girls just like Vivian by providing clean, safe water. What does water have to do with school? The United Nations estimates that 40 billion hours are spent fetching water in sub-Saharan Africa every year. When a choice has to be made between water and school, in South Sudan, girls are often the ones who lose out.
This NPR article does a great job of describing the task and why it's so often an education killer. The Borgen Project lists 10 reasons why education of girls matters.
To better understand the far-reaching effects of a few books and a classroom, here are the top 10 reasons why female education is important.
- Increased Literacy: Of the 163 million illiterate youth across the globe, nearly 63 percent are female. Offering all children education will prop up literacy rates, pushing forward development in struggling regions.
- Human Trafficking: Women are most vulnerable to trafficking when they are undereducated and poor, according to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking. Through providing young girls with opportunities and fundamental skills, this billion-dollar industry can be significantly undermined.
- Political Representation: Across the globe, women are underrepresented as voters and restricted from political involvement. The United Nations Women’s programmes on leadership and participation suggests that civic education, training and all around empowerment will ease this gap.
- Thriving Babies: According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, children of educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of five. Foreign aid for schoolhouses and curriculum development could greatly benefit the East African country of Burundi, where nearly 16,000 children die per year.
- Safe Sex: A girl who completes primary school is three times less likely to contract HIV. With these statistics in mind, The World Bank calls education a “window of hope” in preventing the spread of AIDS among today’s children.
- Later Marriage: As suggested by the United Nations Population Fund, in underdeveloped countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching the age of 18. In a region where a girl receives seven or more years of education, the wedding date is delayed by four years.
- Smaller Families: Increased participation in school reduces fertility rates over time. In Mali, women with secondary education or higher have an average of three children. Counterparts with no education have an average of seven children.
- Income Potential: Education also empowers a woman’s wallet through boosting her earning capabilities. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, a single year of primary education has shown to increase a girl’s wages later in life by 20 percent.
- Thriving GDP: Gross domestic product also soars when both girls and boys are being offered educational opportunities. When 10 percent more women attend school, GDP increases by three percent on average.
- Poverty Reduction: When women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they go on to participate in business and economic activity. Increased earning power and income combat against current and future poverty through feeding, clothing and providing for entire families.
Vivian washed her greens and sold them off. Most importantly her walk to water is short now and she is studying hard in school. Her future is tied tightly to the future of South Sudan. That's why we drill and repair water wells. It really does matter to girls like Vivian.
You can support our work and the future of South Sudan below. Thank you.