The purpose of language is to express opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Organizations such as UNICEF, Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign, and Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. (SIL) advocate for providing women and girls language arts classes. Such classes give these women not only a chance at furthering their education, but a voice as well.
There are 875 million illiterate people in the world, two–thirds of which are women. The gender ratio within education is still prevalent. Reports have shown that amongst youth alone, 122 million remain illiterate, over half of which are girls. The result is illiteracy breeding gender-based violence, ignorance, child marriage, child labor, and teenage pregnancy. Within developing nations especially, access to education still evades many women. Recent statistics show one–third of girls are married before 18.
The factors that bar many women from receiving an education ranges from poverty and discriminatory legislation to female genital-mutilation. Illiterate girls in turn create dependent, uneducated women, but some organizations are intent on combating this global issue, through advocacy and nonprofit projects aimed towards providing women and girls literacy and language classes. It’s a long road ahead, but the progress these organizations have made is slowly closing the gender disparity gap within the global classroom.
Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn Campaign
Launched in 2015, Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative is a combined effort between multiple departments, including the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Let Girls Learn focuses on changing the perspectives of educating girls, encouraging communities worldwide to embrace the idea that an educated girl is an empowered girl, and are beneficial to their communities as well as the world. Recent successes of this campaign have included brokering large-scale non–profits and organizations to make generous donations towards educating women, including USAID’s $25 million investment towards teacher apprenticeship programs in Afghanistan targeted towards adolescent girls. Obama along with actresses and Let Girls Learn advocates, Freida Pinto and Meryl Streep, also went on an international tour, meeting with young women in Morocco, Liberia, and Spain. Following the trio’s empowering campaign trail was number of adolescent girls, declaring their aspirations to become teachers, doctors, and lawyers.
UNICEF and UNGEI
Between UNICEF and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), as well as their many partners, the global non–profits dedicate their time and resources towards marginalized groups, particularly girls, receiving an education. UNGEI and its partners have made it possible for women to not only have the opportunity of a higher education, but to become the role models they once idolized.
SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics)
SIL is a non–profit that zeros in on language arts as well as literacy classes. The organization works on fostering the linguistic skills of women in developing countries, specifically in providing mother-tongue literacy classes. The program’s efforts have resulted in empowered women who use their literacy skills to give back to their communities, including pursuing education in other disciplines, such as English, or founding their own volunteer organizations dedicated to serving abused women and children within their communities.
It’s a long road ahead, but the progress these organizations have made is slowly closing the gender disparity gap within the global classroom.
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