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Exploring the Benefits of Quality Education for Women and Girls

The role of SDG 4 in making the world better for women and girls


Curious Indian village girl students, sitting in the government school classroom, wearing a blue school dress and red ribbon.
Jaikishan Patel on Unsplash

What are SDG’s?

In 2015, the UN agreed upon 17 global goals, known commonly as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals have been set in order to make the world a better place for everyone. Environmental, economic, and social sustainability are at the heart of this mission. The 17 goals are connected, achieving one goal will positively impact the others. With 193 member countries involved, the UN is hoping to end poverty, help the planet and improve the quality of life for humankind all over the world by 2030.


SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 4 is focused on providing education for all. The UN reports positive news about the progress that has been made so far which includes an increase in the number of girls attending school and enrolment rates reaching 91% in developing countries during 2015. However, there is still work to be done. Education builds the foundation needed to move through life from basic fundamentals like literacy and numeracy to more specialised topics. It also gives children the chance to develop social skills and have access to other ideas and cultures which can lead to better understanding. Education is especially important for girls and can help reduce gender inequality. Stereotypical views about the role of women can leave them stuck at home, less informed and therefore more vulnerable. Listed below are just some of the benefits women and girls gain from access to quality education.


Increased Confidence

School is vital for teaching young people life skills such as critical thinking, communication and problem-solving just to name a few. Education can lead to increased confidence. Having skills and knowledge can help build self-esteem and be more self-assured. This makes it easier to engage and be more outspoken in the classroom and take those skills with them as they navigate their teenage years and adulthood. Girls shouldn’t miss out because of financial issues or traditional values that kept women and girls restricted to their homes.


Better Chances of Employment

With quality education, we can equip women with the skills and qualifications they need to thrive in the workplace. This will allow them to earn their own income to support themselves and their families. Helping women enter the labour force can also reduce the gender imbalance and also improve the economy. In some cases, countries miss out on over $1 billion as a result of not giving girls the same level of education as boys. Employment means financial independence and increased chances of breaking the poverty cycle. For their own safety, it is essential that women have their own money so that they can avoid financial abuse.


Better Health

Education can be used to increase health literacy and give women more bodily autonomy. Sexual health education can lead to prevention of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. There is also potential for it to increase attendance rates for girls. For example, in many countries, there is a lot of shame and stigma surrounding periods. In many places, a girl or woman being on her period is seen as “dirty” and “unclean”. Without access to hygiene products and health education, girls are more likely to skip school or simply drop out. Teaching girls and boys about these topics can help reduce stigma and make sure girls are able to look after themselves properly to maintain their health and reduce the risk of disease. This will also tackle attendance issues as girls would no longer have to stay at home due to period shaming. Continuing education is vital for the long-term health and well-being of women. Studies have shown that when a girl finishes secondary school, the likelihood of child marriages and them experiencing domestic abuse is reduced.


Creating Leaders and Advocates

With better education and empowerment women will be able to take on more leadership roles within their communities and within the legal system. It is important that women are able to advocate for themselves and other women. This can lead to real changes. For example, if more women took up more space in the legal field they can contribute to legislation that improves women’s lives. This can also help to reduce the gender imbalance which is SDG 5. Whilst we are making progress, this world still isn’t a great place for women, especially in developing countries. Women and girls have the right to education and to use their voices to empower each other and future generations to come.

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