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Why is there a Gender Gap in Education?

Girls' education has always been a serious problem all over the world. Despite centuries of protests, three waves of feminism, and the struggle of thousands of women for gender equality still, women experience educational discrimination and various sorts of sufferings due to their gender in different regions of the world. According to the United Nation report, “it is estimated that 15 million girls – mainly those living in poverty – will never set foot in a classroom, compared to 10 million boys.” Currently, Afghani girls are facing educational discrimination where the Taliban government has forbidden girls from continuing their education above the sixth grade on religious grounds. While there is no religious justification for gender-based schooling discrimination.

There are various reasons for the gender gap in education. Some of the barriers to girls getting education are discussed below:

Gender Stereotypes: Girls are understood as responsible for handling domestic chores, raising the children, and taking care of the family. While boys are considered to be the breadwinners of the family. Thus, these gender stereotypes consider the boys as family breadwinners, and girls' financial dependence on men prioritizes boys' education.

Gender-based Violence: Girls often become victims of gender-based violence when traveling to, from, and within schools. Gender-based violence takes many forms, such as kidnapping, sexual harassment, physical assault, etc., and is sometimes even committed by male instructors, community members, and students. As a result, it causes the parents and girls to become deeply concerned, and they stop attending school.

Unfair Legislation: Although article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to education, there are still laws and regulations in certain places that restrict equitable girls' right to education, which causes the girls to drop out of schools. Some policies include prohibiting the admission of pregnant girls and reinforcing discriminatory admission criteria.

Costs and budgets: Girls often have to leave school when their families struggle to make ends meet, cannot afford to bear their children's educational expenses, or pay for transportation. Since parents prioritize their son's education due to the stereotypical belief that boys are the family's breadwinners, it is more common for girls to drop out of school. The government also doesn't allocate enough funds or scholarships to support the girls' education, so girls stop attending school.

Situations of Conflicts and Instabilities: When conflicts, wars, and crises break out, women are the ones who suffer the most from injustice, poverty, and brutality. Education also becomes a significant concern when there is turmoil. When schools are attacked, plundered, damaged, closed due to insecurity, or used for military training, girls' education is affected. When there are conflicts, girls also leave school since gender-based violence becomes very prevalent.

The aforementioned are some of the significant barriers to gender equality in education. Gender disparity could result in conflicts if it’s not looked at time. So, these problems should be overcome by excluding the laws which promote gender discrimination, adequate funding and budgets should be allocated for girls' education, serious action should be taken to end gender-based violence, girls and schools should be protected from threats against girls' education, etc.

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