The Shadow Pandemic
The Pandemic has affected all in different aspects but one that concerns us all is, without doubt, the impact on children’s education. 1.27 billion children and youth has been affected by school closures due to COVID-19 this year. Sadly, one of the common trends that emerged was the increase in disparities in educational attainment among the female populace.
However, the education of children and the youth, regardless of their gender, should not suffer no matter what, as they are the future inheritors of this world, and through education, we can empower them not only to shape their own lives but to rebuild a world centered on equality, compassion and peace.
For centuries young girls and women had been barred from attaining education and building their own futures. Nowadays, there are still 750 million illiterate people worldwide, two–thirds of whom are women.
This trend has been gradually showing a tremendous improvement in female literacy rates globally thanks to the efforts of people and organizations like the World Literacy Foundation. This organization works to ensure every child has the opportunity to acquire literacy skills to reach their full potential.
The Pandemic is widening the gender gap
The Pandemic has been functioning as a wicked catalyst that has the potential to transform the lives of young girls, however, for worse. According to the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Interim Technical Brief released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), women are at greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence.
With the shutdown of schools and educational institutions which were often seen as sheltered spaces for young women especially in remote areas, girls are increasingly being made to drop out and get married or be victim to harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilations.
UNHCR reports suggest that child marriage rates have increased rapidly in hardly hit nations such as Yemen with 32% of girls being married off before the age of 18 which would result in early pregnancy, malnourishment, domestic violence, etc. Thus, being prey to the vicious cycle of poverty. Therefore, young women are not just denied the new necessity of remote learning and education, but freedom itself.
What we can do
The pandemic has not only taught us that things can change in the blink of an eye but also that we are all part of global humanity united by the “HOPE” for a better and healthier future.
Thus, as privileged world citizens, it becomes our responsibility to help these young girls realize their true capacities by empowering them with EDUCATION and mitigating gender inequality which is also a UN Sustainable Development Goal. Let’s join hands together today because NOW IS THE TIME TO BE #WithHer. You can take small steps such as:
- Advocate for women’s education in your community
- Spread awareness of the issue with family and friends
- Volunteering and supporting organizations such as the WLF