An African proverb says, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.”
Last week, we partnered with our brilliant, inspirational friend and partner Dr. Tererai Trent for an online discussion about the importance of giving women and girls access to quality education. Dr. Trent is a force to be reckoned with and a pioneer in empowering rural communities in Africa to provide all children access to quality education. Dr. Trent was a recent guest at ACT, and we were honored and eager to partner with her and her foundation, Tererai Trent International, once again.
Women’s History Month might have come and gone, but in the last few days, we kept the celebration and dialogue alive through our #EmpowerHer Twitter chat to shine a light on the importance of quality education for all women and girls. The #EmpowerHer Twitter chat generated the highest number of engagements of any Center for Equity in Learning Twitter chat to date. This indicates that the Twitter chat reached its goal of sparking meaningful conversations about women and education during Women’s History Month. Additionally, the hashtag #EmpowerHer garnered more than 2.8 million potential impressions and our content had more than 21,000 impressions and 778 hashtag uses.
Empowering women and girls by giving them access to quality education in a global economy is important for global sustainability and economic success. Countries fare much better economically and socially when females have access to quality education. Alex Serna, a first generation student, civic and education leader, participated in our chat and said, “if a nation’s values are truly grounded in equity, equality, and freedom, all women and girls should have access to a quality education.” Additionally, Julie Willcott, Social Media Fellow at EdSurge said “a quality education provides girls and women with the chance to pursue their dreams.”
A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that “$12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.” The public, private, and social sectors will need to act to close gender gaps in work and society. Communities, families, and policy-makers should support a quality education for women and girls and provide the support needed for them to achieve it. In many developing countries, women are denied access to education leading them to low-paying jobs and the inability to make educated decisions for themselves and their families.
According to the World Bank, “poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl will access an education. Girls’ education is a strategic development priority. Better educated women tend to be healthier than uneducated women, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children. All these factors combined can help lift households out of poverty” which in turn can help all countries flourish economically and socially.
Additionally, higher-ed and employers can work together to foster upward mobility for females and retain them in the workforce. Georgetown Center for Education and Workforce mentioned “nearly 60% of all working learners are women; it’s integral to support women on their educational journey.” By empowering women and girls with education, we are investing in economic stability, decreased maternal mortality and child marriage, improvement in socioeconomic growth, and participation in the political process. ACT’s Katie McDonnell offered her insight during the chat, “we are all better and stronger together, it is critical for women to have support from communities, families, and policy-makers.”
We had a great turnout and an exciting online dialogue during our #EmpowerHer Twitter chat about the importance of providing women and girls access to quality education. Thanks to all of our participants who contributed to the conversation and who continue to spotlight the economic and social benefits that occur by providing equal access to a quality education. ACT continues to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Our CEO Marten Roorda said “here at ACT, women make up 57.3% of our team members and 52.9% of our people managers, in short, without women there is no ACT.”
Follow @ACTEquity on Twitter for information on upcoming events and future Twitter chats.