A woman’s empowerment must begin when she is a child if it is to be sustainable. Inequalities between men and women do not begin in adulthood, but are inculcated throughout the process of growth. Failing to educate girls or giving them insufficient education is one way of destroying their future and disempowering them.
According to Dayofthechild.org: Worldwide, girls constitute over half of the children out of school. Only 30 percent of all girls are enrolled in secondary school. In many countries, less than one third of university students are women. The average sub-Saharan African girl from a low-income, rural household gets less than two years of schooling and never learns to read and write, to add and subtract, as opposed to the average sub-Saharan African boy who fully completes primary education.
How culture disadvantages the girl-child
Traditional African culture places a higher value on a girl than a boy. When a boy is born, the celebrations are heightened and the entire community shares in the joy. In contrast, the birth of a girl attracts low-key celebrations. Further, a woman who bears only girls risks being divorced or can easily get a co-wife, even though the real reason for the birth of girls is the husband.
The girl belongs elsewhere
A girl is also regarded, to some extent, as an outsider because she will eventually leave her home and get married into a different family where she will belong for the rest of her life. Consequently, fathers prefer to educate boys because they belong to the home where they are born and whatever benefit will accrue from their education will be shared among all family members.
Few women in African politics
The history of colonialism in Africa reveals that many families opted to take boys to school for the same reasons. As a result, more men than women acquired education and became leaders of independent African nations. This explains the reason there are few women in political leadership in Africa today.
Empowering the girl child through education
If society desires to see more African women in politics, business and other spheres, girls must have equal educational opportunities as boys. Lesego Mkone, writing in Carmma.org, opines:
Seeing the female as ‘less important’ has got to stop! It is amazing when you realize how comfortably we see the female as less important than the male, and use these falsities to perpetuate a deep-rooted inequality and a lack of education for the girl child.