Every human being, in an ideal society, is born with certain rights that are considered to be the birth right and obligatory for the state and society to deliver. These rights include the right to Healthcare, Clean Water, Food, Justice, Nationality, etc. But again this is something that can only be talked about in the most ideal of worlds. The reality of the world is that not all human beings are born equal and preference of one kind over the other due to the color of their skin or their gender or ethnicity continues to prevail in the world.
There is no denying that efforts are being made to eliminate these differences, but the task is not as easy as may seem. Already there are too many problems and hassles that are in the way that continue to keep these differences alive. One of the most fundamental rights of all humans is the right to Education. As per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2,
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty" (United Nations, n.d.)
More importantly, Article 26 of the same charter declares Education as the fundamental right of all humans and should be made free till a minimum level of Elementary and Fundamental Stages.
But despite it, this fundamental right remains a privilege for many people around the Globe. This privilege is due to the Gender Inequalities that continue to trend in many developing and third world nations. And this makes the reality of the situation much more disturbing then these ideals that we hold dear. Gender Discrimination continues to be one of the biggest concerns of the majority of third world countries, however, that doesn't mean that the more developed countries don't find this as an issue. But how does one describe Gender-based discrimination?
Sex or Gender Discrimination is defined as "treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of a person's sex" (U.S.. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, n.d.). According to research, "70% of the 2 billion poor are women; 2/3rd of illiterate adults are women; employment rates for women are declining after increasing (yes, of course, the world wars are now over)" (Moosa, 2010).
It is interesting to note that there is a majority of women which fall below the poverty line, while there is a scarcity of women which fall above the upper income earners (The Centre for Social Justice, n.d.).
This is a clear indication of the trend that there are severe disparities in all fields with regards to women. The increase in the number of women being poor, is a direct relation to the fact that they are not provided with equal opportunity or to quality education, which could provide them with the opportunity to change their lives.
There should be no doubt and no need to over emphasize the value of Education; its worth should be well understood by the examples cited above. There is no doubt that with proper Education females too would have the chance to equally participate in the workforce competition and make a better place for themselves. However, most unfortunately, it is at this crucial platform as well where discrimination takes place. The main focus of this research therefore would remain on Education.
In most developing nations and third world countries, being a female is already a matter of shame and difficulties. The lives of females are already bound by many problems, which only seem to increase in proportion due to the rural context of their country. This means that access to Education and for that matter even to Proper Hospitals, Water, Food, etc. is all a very daunting challenge. In these scenarios, it is always the male who is preferred to get the Education, while the female Education and Knowledge is considered to be limited to the daily chores of the household (USAID, 2008).
The increase in these inequalities only tends to increase if the women are of another race or color, thus multiplying the discrimination (The Centre for Social Justice, n.d.). However, the effects of Gender Inequality are not limited to the individual only but go on to affect the entire fabric of the society and can have a great impact on the economic stability of the state as well and has a direct clash with the development goals of any nation.
While there are many agents that are at work to continue to keep such inequalities alive in every nation, one of the most basic agents, however, remains to be Culture. Many human rights activist have even advocated that "women's emancipation cannot be exported to the Middle East or parts of Asia and Africa because of cultural and religious sensitivities" (Mulholland, 2007).
In many cases it is due to Culture that the male gender is preferred for Education by the parents. These Cultural norms directly affect the human capital investment from the side of the parents, being low for females in most cases (Hiller, 2008).
Religion is also one of the biggest agents in keeping these sorts of inequalities alive. With religious taboo and the power being given to the clerics and holy man in many states and nations, the lower statues of women is being justified through religion. And since religion becomes quite a powerful tool against the people, there is no denying that it ultimately results in taking over the people.
The issues of Child Morality, Early Age marriages, Fertility, Large Families, Introduction of Education to the next generation, all are related to the development of any nation (Klasen, 1999). Women can be an added resource to the development of any nation and the sidelining of women is a serious blow to the contribution that they can make to the economy.
Consider then that in a country there is a 50-50% representation of female and male, but due to the lack of equality in society and the lack of Education being given to the female, they cannot participate in any way in building the economy of the country. In such a situation, 50% of the possible workforce is being kept at bay because of the inequality at various levels.
Various measure and scales have been developed by agencies to calculate the equality or inequality at various levels. The measure of the lack or elimination of Gender Inequality can only be measure by certain outcomes (USAID, 2008), which include
Equality of Access
Equality in the learning Process
Equality of Educational outcomes
Equality of external result
Equality of Access doesn't mean only easy and equality in access by both genders to Educational Institutes, but in the case of the rural context, it also means an easy accessibility to such places, so that the access of both the genders is made possible.
Equality in the Learning Process means that the curriculum should be developed so that it doesn't even balance the representation of both male and female interest, but should also be mean providing equal attention to both the genders in the classroom.
Equality in the Educational Outcomes and Equality in External Result of the Learning Process thus becomes the most fundamental to determine whether the strategies employed have been successful. This would require making sure that both gender are given equal choices to pursue the subjects that they want. This would become much visible in the results which can indicate the subjects which are being preferred by which gender and what are the factors that are playing to make this situation arise.
Recognizing this source of before untapped human resource, most of the development projects in the third world country are now focusing on this potential. Many aids and development projects by the donor agencies are now keenly working out strategies that would allow for the participation of women in the workforce. Already there is enough evidence to suggest that this sort of investment would not only yield positive results with respect to economy and development but also in regards to health and social gains. Educated women are more likely to have lower rates of HIV, while the way they raise would children and nurture them, also varies greatly.
Education can be a great catalyst for improving the situation of any household and country. But this requires a great change in the overall society. Education is one of the most basic of the rights but the promotion of this in the overall society can ultimately result in bringing one of the biggest changes in the society. However, what is required at the moment is a region to region wise strategy that can help in bringing this change. The many…