Updated: Aug 10, 2022
According to the Human Rights Act, Article 2 –, ‘No person shall be denied a right to an education.’ Unfortunately, this is not the case in many countries, especially for young girls worldwide. Somalia is a sovereign state compromising the Horn of Africa. A strong, flourishing nation torn down by a devastating war in the 90s. This was the final blow to an already collapsed education system. 86% of Somalis between the ages of 15 and 24 had received no education in 2018, 81% of these people being girls. In many war-torn developing countries, patriarchal society has meant this impact is always disproportionate to girls. Whilst this is unfortunate for both genders, cultural norms and attitudes mean the importance of educating girls is quickly disregarded.
Years of underinvestment and civil unrest have meant that Somalia’s education system has been in a downward spiral since the civil war. The lack of qualified teachers paired with low-quality resources has made it difficult to ensure an impactful education. However, this is not the only challenge faced when trying to educate girls in Somalia. Child marriage is yet another chronic issue faced by many young girls. 40% of children between 15-18 are married. Many girls are expected to take on wife and mother duties from a young age. This is mainly to relieve the financial burden of their parents. Female Genital Mutation (FGM) is a huge issue faced by almost 98% of women in Somalia. The high health risks associated with this lead to many girls abandoning their education.
Over the last decade, Somalia has faced several environmental risks. In 2017, the drought in Somalia was declared a national disaster. This, as well as climate change, puts young people at risk. It threatens not only their education but also their health and security. Somali children, according to UNICEF, are highly exposed to soil and water pollution, flooding and droughts. Often limiting their access to education due to health issues or the destruction of infrastructure and educational institutions. This affects children as they now have to take up adult responsibilities like worrying about water and food, meaning their education takes a back seat.
It’s time that government policies prioritise and protect girls’ education. It’s time to stop undermining our girls and underestimating the benefits this has on the prosperity of Somalia. Giving girls an equal chance to education allows for economic growth; increasing their productivity and employability provides a greater labour force and economic prosperity. "Educating girls has proven to be one of the essential strategies of breaking poverty cycles and is likely to have major long-term impacts on access to formal jobs," according to an International Labour Organisation study. As Somalia suffers from droughts and famine, educating girls increases health knowledge and allows for better medical aid. Furthermore, educating girls allows for a better and stronger second generation as they become more intentional with nutrition, sanitisation, and immunisation. Therefore, a child born to a literate mother has a higher chance of living past the age of five.
"Every girl, no matter where she lives, no matter what her circumstance, has a right to learn. Every leader, no matter who he or she is or the resources available to him or her, has a duty to fulfil and protect this right." Malala Yousafzai
How can we help support this cause?
1. Donate and support existing charities
2. Educate yourselves by reading the stories of some girls:
Faduma Hussein - https://www.concern.net/news/education-for-girls-in-somalia