I dare to dream, do you?

Women for Education met with Dr Connson Chou Locke, lecturer in management at The London School of Economics and Political Science to discuss the importance of female education, role models and the cultural changes needed for gender equality. Dr Connson Chou Locke specialises in women and leadership and through her research she has come to experience many of the issues related to gender inequalities but also how education can help overcome this.

To begin with, the world’s population consists of roughly 50 % women hence one would assume that women would make up roughly 50 % of the students at primary school, university and in the labour-force. Unfortunately, in many countries across the globe this is not the reality and the only way increase female labour-force participation is to make way for girls in primary school, high school and all up at university-level.

However, to make this the reality we must change the way society perceives the future of the world’s girls and young women. In many developing countries the reality many girls faces is the one in which the families and the societies see little meaning in investing in female education. Girls are expected to marry at a young age before they become a burden for their families and quickly afterwards carry children of their own thus leaving no time for education. As a result, the chances for young women to get a higher education and to have a career of their own is small to none. We are all shaped by the culture and the society in which we grow up in and this proves that in order for the world’s girls to be educated there must a change in the way we perceive their future and an understanding of the benefits of having women in the labour-force.

A recent report from IMF shows the enormous benefits of female labour-force participation, clearly displaying that educated women not only have access to the range of opportunities that can only come with an university degree but how it can also benefit their societies. Increased competitiveness, economic efficiency and higher GDP are only a few of the benefits a country can reap from educating their girls. By putting dollar-signs behind their data, the IMF report have managed to provide a convincing argument that education is not just about gender equality but a way for countries to keep growing and developing.

However convincing reports like these are, one must keep in mind that the people who would truly benefit from the data presented are seldom the ones who have access to it. So how can we go about inspiring young girls and women across the globe to dare fight for their right to education? According to Dr Connson Chou Locke, the single most effective way for cultural changes is not laws but role models and giving people a chance to see, hear and experience the benefits of female education. By touching the life of young girls, role models can serve as the catalyst for change and inspire more girls to change the expectations that their families and societies have on them.

Essentially, higher education is so much more than just equal opportunities and gender equality, it is about changing the way people think and the way they perceive the world. It is about turning them into critical thinkers and intellectual equals. It is about the university atmosphere, the interactions with students that serves as an equaliser opening up a new world, a wonderful world.

By changing the life of one girl we can together inspire a whole generation of young women to dare to dream of a different life and a different world. By changing the life of one girl we can create a powerful wave with the potential to change the fundamental believes that so many countries are built upon. By changing the life of one girl we can together empower the next generation female leaders.

Yours sincerely,

Mikaela

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