We are so lucky here at Sanctuary Bistro because we are able to live according to our ideals. We are a family business with a woman as the majority owner. We get to partner with so many non-profits and organizations in the area. We have a platform to speak up and out for injustices in the world. We are so grateful for the hard work of our community partners. We hosted a benefit dinner for W.I.F.E.. “The Women’s International Fund for Education (WIFE) strongly values education for women, equality for all and environmental sustainability. WIFE understands that when women are in positions of influence in society, are well educated and in leadership roles, they can create immensely positive impacts in their communities. WIFE seeks to support young women in building a solid educational foundation and developing successful careers that improve the quality of their communities and the sustainability of the environment.” – Jennifer
Despite progress, girls and women continue to be discriminated against in accessing education and within education systems. 57 million children worldwide, including 31 million girls, are out of school and two thirds of illiterate adults are women. In developing countries, adolescent girls are more likely to drop-out of secondary school than boys, particularly in rural areas.
There are a variety reasons that women are prevented going to school. Poverty, pregnancy, school-based violence, child marriage and discriminatory gender norms are some of the major obstacles to girls’ education worldwide. School fees, the threat of violence on the way to and in school, and the perceived benefits of girls’ domestic work also keep girls out-of-school. Pregnancy and child marriage cut short adolescent girls’ schooling before they have completed secondary school. Many of these issues are not faced by boys or men in their quest for education, creating an inequality in the ability to access schooling between the two genders.
Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; complete all levels of education with the skills to effectively compete in the work force; learn the life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.
Girls’ education benefits communities at large. Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the work force, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty.
According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom.
Poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl can will be able to access education. For example, in Nigeria, only 4% of poor young women can read, compared with 99 percent of rich young women in the South East. Studies consistently reinforce that girls who face multiple disadvantages — such as low family income, living in remote or underserved locations, disability or belonging to a minority ethno-linguistic group — are farthest behind in terms of access to and completion of education.
Also, violence greatly impacts access to education and a safe environment for learning. For example, one in three Haitian women (ages 15 to 49) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence, and that of women who received money for a sexual exchange before turning 18 years old, 27% of them, reported schools to be the most common location for solicitation.
Young women and girls, being forced to marry at a very young age, is also a critical challenge. These girls are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than women who marry later. This affects the education and health of their children, as well as their ability to earn a living. As reported in a recent study, more than 41,000 girls under the age of 18 marry every day and putting an end to the practice would increase women’s expected educational attainment, and with it, their potential earnings.
Every day, girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence, and fragility. Yet, we know, that when women are allowed equal access to education family sizes decrease, health outcomes for women and children are improved, poverty rates decrease and the community at large benefits. The Women’s International Fund for Education seeks to bridge this gap in access to education by offering women the opportunity to attend college, with the goal of working towards improvement of their communities. We offer scholarships worldwide, and have funded women who have become educators, mental health experts and special needs teachers in their communities. This work could not be done without the incredible help of our supporters, like Sanctuary Bistro.