March 8th: women’s education right

The absence of this right does not allow women to become agents of their own development. Without education, their lives will remain tied to family dependence, the domination of the husband or less qualified jobs with less responsibility and social influence. We are all responsible for this reality: local governments, the international community, international financial organizations and the citizens in general.


World situation on women's education

We understand as poverty, a situation where the basic needs are not covered (medical aid, food, education) and the lack of access to loans, land, inheritance, recognition of the work and participation on decisions regarding community and home.

Taking this definition into account, we can say that women continue to be the poorest among the poorest. Women make up 70% of the population living in these conditions.

Education is a key tool to overcome this situation and the lack of access to this right is aggravated in the case of women. In spite of the Millennium Goals regarding primary education( promote gender equity and women's autonomy, with the goal to eliminate unequal gender situations in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and in all education levels by 2015), the female population still represents two thirds of the illiterate population. On the other hand, evaluations carried out on the compliance of the commitments regarding women, signed in Beijing in 1995, show that "in all parts of the world there are many women who are in worse conditions than they were ten years ago." ( WEDO, "Beijing Betrayed" 2005).


Data on the situation of women's education:

  • Out of every ten boys with no access to school, there are 115 girls in the same situation. Although gender breach has been constantly closing during the last decades, approximately 1 out of 5 girls enrolled in primary school, do not finish it. (UNICEF: World-wide State of Childhood 2007)
  • 569 million women do not know how to read or write. ("In Fight. The women and their Rights" by Nikkita Van der Gaag. 2005)
  • 86 million young women are illiterate. ("In Fight. The women and their Rights" by Nikkita Van der Gaag. 2005)
  • 87 million girls do not attend school. ("In Fight. The women and their Rights" by Nikkita Van der Gaag. 2005)
  • The countries with grater disparity between genders in primary education have been able to increase the percentage of girls enrolled in schools. Even so, this disparity is still cause of severe worry in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia.(UN Secretary General Report)
  • Although there is currently evidence of progress on the  rights of girls education in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Gambia, Sri Lanka and Tunis, the disadvantage situation world wide has not changed substantially ("Education as a Human Right" UNESCO Etxea, 2005).
  • In the majority of the developing areas, girls have less probabilities of finishing school than boys. In Sierra Leona, 300.000 children in school age are not enrolled: 60% are girls ("Education as a Human Right" UNESCO Etxea, 2005).
  • Curricula and education materials are still sexists and they rarely answer to the specific needs of girls and women (Luisa Antolín, 2006).


Why do we proclaim universal access for women to education?

Because it is a right

In the first place and fundamentally, because women have a right to break the social segregation system, because of gender, so that when reaching adult age, these women may become agents of their own future. Without education their lives will be tied to family dependence, the husband's domination or less qualified jobs with less responsibility and social influence. Without education they are deprived of being citizens with a voice in their society.

Equity in classrooms is necessary for social justice reasons. To enjoy the right to education should not depend on being a man or a woman; equal opportunities should be given to every person, disregarding their gender.


"Education is a human right and an indispensable tool to achieve the goals of equality, development and peace. Non discriminatory education benefits both boys and girls and will therefore produce better equity relationships between men and women. Equality in access to education and education qualifications are necessary conditions for a greater number of women to become agents of change. Literacy in women is a key factor to improve health, nourishment and family education and also to empower women in decision making in society. Investment in both formal and non formal education for girls and women has proven to be one of the best ways to achieve a sustainable development and an economic growth both sustained and sustainable, with a very high social return."   Beijing Action Platform, 1995


 Because it has a direct impact on community development

"Literacy in women is a key factor to improve health, nourishment and family education and also to empower women in decision making in society."

IV World Women Conference, Beijing


"There is no more efficient development tool than women promotion"
Kofi Annan, ex UN Secreatry General



Women's education:

  • Promotes gender equality in households
  • Reduces the number of children and improves maternal health. Every day 1.500 women die through avoidable pregnancy and childbirth complications. 99% of deaths take place in Southern countries (EMI, UNICEF, 2007)
  • Provides better abilities to take care of the children, enabling a greater survival rate, better health and a higher level of education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of gender equity would reduce the amount of children under three with an underweight from 30% to 27% and it would ensure the correct nourishment of another 1.7 million children. (World-wide State of Childhood 2007)

  • Increases the possibility of their children to attend school. Another study on children from 7 to 14 in 18 Sub-Saharan countries reinforces the importance of their mother's education; the study reported that 73% of the children whose mothers had education, attended school, compared to only 51% of the children whose mothers did not have education.(World-wide State of Childhood 2007)

  • Childhood has more resources when women are able to express their opinion. In those families where women make decisions, the proportion of resources dedicated to hygiene is far greater than in those where women have a less decisive role (World-wide State of Childhood 2007)

  • Improves women's capacity to make decisions and stimulates a greater participation of girls and women in leadership roles and decision making. Therefore, wherever women's education increases, poverty decreases, life hope increases, infant mortality is lower and home management improves.

What we demand from Entreculturas


To local and international governments:

To improve education budgets so as to provide sufficient classrooms and text books, and duly qualified and remunerated teachers.

Promote free education for all. Abolish school taxes and the costs of books and uniforms.

Give direct aid to children so they may attend school. Needed families often depend on the work of their daughters, so there may be ways to find time for them to study.

Make schools more open to girls, guaranteeing their security, hiring a higher number of teachers and providing flexible learning, among other aspects.

Establish specific literacy programmes for adult women, giving a second opportunity to those who did not receive education.

Enable the necessary means to accomplish the Millennium Goals that pointed towards 2005 for gender inequalities in primary and secondary school.


To international financial institutions to facilitate funds and encourage public investment for education instead of promoting constant budget cuts in social expense, as is done in many countries.


To the civil society "However, we face an important enough problem so as not to leave it only in the hands of politicians. We will only achieve quality education for all, if we maintain a personal commitment with this cause, which is the cause of a fairer world for all. Only the practice of an active citizenship, capable of bringing forth these matters, will be able to make all those, with a certain degree of power, take up a real commitment with an education for all. Only the daily practice of justice and solidarity will create the cultural humus in which to develop the structural reforms that our world needs. To achieve education for all is a shared responsibility, also ours" according to Luis Arancibia, Entreculturas Deputy Director.