Knowlege is Power

Gender inequality in education is unjust. Education is crucial as knowledge is power! If a woman is educated this may improve her future prospects and her qualifications could assist her in future employment. Certain occupations require a particular level of knowledge, which can be attained through education. “Research shows that providing girls with an extra year of schooling can increase individual wages by up to 20 percent[1]”, a woman earning her own money will be empowering as she can potentially decide what she spends it on and won’t have to depend on others as much. Education allows women to be more independent, they are more likely to know their rights and claim them with confidence. Overall, education plays a significant role in personal development; it widens the possibilities and opportunities one can take advantage of.

There is no valid reason to prohibit a young girl from attaining education… yet it happens. It is as if those who support or stand by and allow these gender inequalities within education, are threatened by an educated women, they are worried that as we become more educated, we become more independent and autonomous… and so they should be! As we become more educated, we can start asking “why”. Why do certain cultural practices that subordinate women take place and where do they originate? Why is there still a lack of women in senior management and executive corporate positions? The raising of questions presents a challenge to the status quo. Why shouldn’t there be equality between males and females within education? Is it because females shouldn’t catch up to the omnipotent status of the males surrounding her? Is the woman meant to look to her spouse, brother or father for wisdom and direction… this way she will never be included in any decision making, thus may never be empowered.

During my time at university I have taken modules that have dived into gender issues. My eyes have been opened to gender inequalities and different forms of oppression against women, which I would otherwise be unaware of. I know the power and advantages of education, it has broadened my knowledge and I know it will continue to be beneficial for me in the future. I have learnt about inequalities and violations against women and this has been empowering, as I know what actions I could take and what rights I could claim if I felt discriminated against because of my sex.

This is not to say that a woman cannot be empowered if she is not educated or that education or employment will put women in better positions. Gender inequalities are often reproduced within the school system, teachers may give more attention to boys because they think giving attention to girls is a waste of time as they will only grow up to become ‘housewives anyway’. “Teachers in Africa also have different attitudes towards male and female students on the basis that boys need careers and girls need husbands. They tend to be dismissive and discouraging towards girls[2]”. Girls who manage to gain education – even in economically developed counties – are often encouraged to select classes on knitting, arts and nursing whilst sports are reserved for the boys. In addition to this, education may assist a woman in getting into paid employment but earning money doesn’t necessarily mean she will be empowered, especially if she isn’t in charge of her wages or if she’s working in poor, exploitative conditions.

Regardless of these limitations, a basic education is essential for all walks of life. Without education, there are some career paths that are impossible to take. Some girls are being denied this because it is presumed they’ll grow up to be housewives thus education is seen as a ‘waste of time’ and money. Education is a tool for empowerment. The negative findings don’t outweigh the positives, “but they suggest the need for caution in assuming that the effects of education can be taken for granted or that they will be uniform across all contexts[3]”. We need to ensure that we are looking into the private sphere, as education doesn’t mean women will be in control of their lives if they are still subordinate in the home or classroom.

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family – Kofi Annan.


[1] “Getting to Equal: How Educating Every Girl Can Help Break the Cycle of Poverty,” The World Bank, accessed October 24, 2013, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:23009825~menuPK:282424~pagePK:64020865~piPK:149114~theSitePK:282386,00.html.

[2] Naila Kabeer, “Gender equality and women’s empowerment: A critical analysis of the third millennium development goal,” Gender & Development 13.1 (2005): 17.

[3] Ibid, 18.

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About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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One Response to Knowlege is Power

  1. Pingback: Knowlege… | kassie Leigh Perkins

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