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Schoolgirl in Senegal
9.05.03
Politics and Economy:
Rich World, Poor Women
More on This Story:
Women and Education

Till women are more rationally educated, the progress of human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks. — Mary Wollstonecraft (17591797)

Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015. — U.N. Millennium Development Goals, 2000

Getting girls an equal chance at education is clearly a long, and ongoing process. According to the educational branch of the United Nations, UNESCO, one out of every five school-aged children in developing countries is not enrolled in primary school. Girls worldwide are less likely to be enrolled in school and to stay in school than boys. The World Millennium Goals labeled this trend "starting life in second place."

See how many girls are attending school around the world.



Senegalese schoolgirls      

According to the World Bank, 60% of the 110 million primary-school-age children in developing countries not attending school are girls. In Senegal, only 15% of all girls go on to secondary education. In Turkey, only 48%. In Thailand, 80%.


Education is a major factor in economic advancement worldwide. Reaching gender parity is an uphill battle. According to UNESCO's latest statistics, there are an estimated 862 million illiterate adults in the world, about two-thirds of whom are women.


Percentage of Population Illiterate (age 15+)

Senegal, percentage of men who are illiterate:  52.7%
Senegal, percentage of women who are illiterate:  72.3%
Egypt, percentage of men who are illiterate:  33.4%
Egypt, percentage of women who are illiterate:  56.2%
India, percentage of men who are illiterate:  31.6%
India, percentage of women who are illiterate:  54.6%
Yemen, percentage of men who are illiterate:  32.5%
Yemen, percentage of women who are illiterate:  74.7%
Iraq, percentage of men who are illiterate:  45.1%
Iraq, percentage of women who are illiterate:  76.7%
Thailand, percentage of men who are illiterate:  2.9%
Thailand, percentage of women who are illiterate:  6.1%
Turkey, percentage of men who are illiterate:  6.6%
Turkey, percentage of women who are illiterate:  23.5%
Korea, percentage of men who are illiterate:  0.90%
Korea, percentage of women who are illiterate:  3.6%
Mexico, percentage of men who are illiterate:  6.7%
Mexico, percentage of women who are illiterate:  10.9%
Source: United Nations, The World's Women 2000, Trends and Statistics (updated 2002)

PBS's WIDE ANGLE recent took a look at the global program to achieve the Millennium Goal: Education for All. Their Web site has further information about program combating illiteracy and statistics on girls and education.

Additional Sources: UNESCO: The Education of Girls and Women; Millennium Goals: Gender Equality; UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women)

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