This issue is getting a lot of attention at the moment, with a campaign to increase access to education for girls and of course the 14 year old girl on her way to Britain for medical treatment following her shooting by the Taliban.
Educating women has often been seen as a luxury, but in a world where population and poverty are soaring one of the best solutions is to educate women, to give them the means of earning a living and to give them a degree of independence. Literacy also protects them from being swindled, and helps them make informed decision when – or in some cases if – they are able to vote. The education of women also encourages the education of their children.
I have always assumed the lack of acces ot education was either due to governments refusing to fund schools, or to the conservative attitudes of parents who prevented the girls attenting.
But it seems the problem in some cases is far simpler, but not necessarily easier to fix.
It’s about toilets.
The Right to Education Act came into effect in 2010 and should have ensured access to basic facilities, but in a country where up to 700 million Indians do not have access to a toilet or clean water, this is a major factor in girls remaining uneducated.
The good news is that India’s Supreme Court has ordered the construction of toilets in all government schools within 6 months.
But where is the funding for this, and will it ever happen?