The Necessity of Education for Migrant Girls

In a cafe in Rabat, Morocco, Grace* told me that she wanted to go back to school. She drummed her fingers on the metal table before adding that she had to quit primary school and that the violence of a war was too much to risk for an education. But, at least she knew how to sign her name on her UNCHR refugee card.

 

A young girl is pictured at a makeshift camp in the area of Shangil Tobaya, Sudan, where many like her have settled to escape fighting in their native Darfur villages. The migrants have to contend with Shangil Tobaya’s harsh landscape which provides little water or food. – Photo courtesy of United Nations

The young women I spoke to left their countries of origin in Sub-Saharan Africa because of economic hardship and war. Some had post-secondary education and jobs in their home countries, while others hadn’t even finished primary school. But it did not matter how educated they were: they all made the same dangerous journey across several African countries and the Sahara Desert.

 

Unfortunately, Morocco neither abides by international asylum laws nor has any domestic asylum protection laws. Without these laws, refugees and illegal migrants go without healthcare and cannot work legally. Many, especially young women and girls, are exposed to exploitation and sexual violence. The UNHCR and local NGOs are often the only outposts in Morocco that offer education to migrants and refugees.

 

As the United Nations and countless other organizations note, education for adolescent girls and young women migrants is crucial. Basic knowledge in reading and writing helps lower the risk of human trafficking and exploitation. They can be taught their international human rights as migrants, if not refugees, and as females.

 

Education in their countries of migration also encourages learning essential life skills. Migrant women and girls learn vocational skills to help them make an income. Education centers become a place to access health and legal services. Migrants can meet each other and use the education centers as a social place for new and old migrants. Indeed, the Population Council notes that because migrant girls and women do not often have social supports in their destination country, other migrants become a source of social support and outreach.

 

In countries like Morocco where migrants have very limited rights, economies and urbanization cannot improve. However, with previous education and continuing education, migrant girls and young women can learn how to thrive and apply what they learn to their lives, whether they return to their home countries or new countries of migration.

 

*Name was changed for privacy.

 

Blog Post Written by: Soyeon Kim, WGG Summer Intern

Impact of Climate Change on Girls Education

In his report on the impact of climate change in 2010, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon noted that girls are among the first to be impacted by climate change – specifically in the scope of education. In instances of extreme weather events, girls are often removed from school to help contribute to the household income or take over domestic responsibilities. Many times, these girls do not return to school to complete their education. For example: girls have to travel further to fetch water or firewood during drought periods; this time apart from family leaves them vulnerable to violence and sexual assault.

 

Young Afghan Girl Attends UNICEF-Supported School

In instances of extreme weather changes, a household’s financial stability quickly loses footing. According to UNGEI, more girls become domestic workers or agricultural laborers to help support the family financially. It is likewise noted that during times of floods and droughts, we find a significant increase in early or forced marriages. Because families cannot financially support their daughters, they choose to marry their daughters in return for financial stability via dowry.

 

Research continues to show that education helps (rather than hinders) girls in times of climate change. Education gives girls a wider understanding of the environment and how to improve or adapt to socioeconomic changes during environmental disasters or changes. Educated girls are also more likely to have knowledge about family planning, especially in creating families more resilient to family disasters.

 

With the ongoing Post-2015 discussion, girls’ education during climate change must be incorporated into the conversation. Girls must be educated to more effectively navigate the effects of climate change. Moreover, they must be recognized for their unique experiences during and after natural disasters.

 

Blog Post Written By: Soyeon Kim, WGG Summer Intern

Unlocking the Potential of Girls is a Powerful Means of Achieving Poverty Eradication and Social Integration

Two members of the WGG Ann Kelly, IBVM and Germaine Price, Daughter of Charity prepared the statement in collaboration with Research and Writing. The statement is now posted on the Commission Website and was endorsed by the following non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Council: Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Pan Pacific and South-East Asia , Women’s Association, Sisters of Charity Federation, Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, The Grail, UNANIMA International, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, World , ORT Union and Zonta International.

“Girls (0-18), in particular, comprising a seventh of the world’s population (United States Census Bureau), suffer multiple disadvantages because of discrimination, violence and exclusion, and as such have limited capacity to control or change their lives. Yet a mounting body of evidence suggests that unlocking the potential of this particular section of the global population is a powerful means of achieving poverty eradication and social integration.” Read more