Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Perspectives on Gender Inequality and the Barrier of Culture on Education

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Perspectives on Gender Inequality and the Barrier of Culture on Education

Article excerpt

Abstract: Education plays an important role in gender equality. Two thirds of illiterate adults are women; this impacts on the lives of families and children because many mothers are the caretakers of the family. This societal challenge might also not be resolved as fast as expected and remains high on the global agenda. It is for this reason that the study will discuss how education can impact on bridging the gender gap. From a young age, many women are taught to be submissive, subordinate and obedient to their male counterparts; and they are less valued than men. This level of consciousness which reinforces cultural norms and expectations ensures the continuous cycle of male patriarchy. Cultural processes maintain gender differences which act as barriers preventing an increase in the education of girls and women and ultimately reducing the number of women in positions of power, thus leading to a small scale of gender equality in a male-dominated society.

Children spend most of their lives in classrooms and the study presumes that education environments are also the incubation hubs where girls and women can be equally educated and eventually take on their rightful place in society. It has been demonstrated time and again that young girls remain excluded from society, alienated in some cultures because they are female or even unwanted, and can even be murdered because a woman is a liability to her father unlike a male. Education reinforces and conscientises both males and females on social justice, equality; fairness and respect.

Key-words: Gender inequality; culture; education; inequality; discrimination

1. Introduction

The aim of the study is to examine gender culture on the education of girls and women. The paper will examine the literature on gender and education and the access of girls and women to education and their experiences in developing states such as South Africa. This forms an important study because women, particularly in the developing world, who have not been represented much by early feminist scholars, do not have much access to secondary and higher education. This hampers their representation, progress and the advancement of families in this context. The paper will therefore discuss gender inequality and explain the barriers which prevent equal access to education for girls and women and how education can impact on creating a consciousness of equality for all.

Globally, there are 101 million children who do not attend school; the disturbing reality is that more than half are girls (UNICEF, 2003). Upon the release of former South African President Nelson Mandela after spending 27 years in prison, he communicated to the people that knowledge is power and that people should go back to school to educate themselves. This was communicated to many South Africans who were about to enter a transitional period after years of racial discrimination and gross inequality. Women continue to be marginalised and oppressed as a result of gender, socioeconomic circumstances and are deprived from access to free and quality education (UNICEF, 2003).

In 1990, in Jomtien, Thailand, at the World Conference on Education for All, world leaders agreed that the priorities were to ensure access to, and improve the quality of, education for girls and women, and to hindrances that prevent the participation and access for girls and women". The deadline at the time was to ensure universal access, and completion of primary education by 2000. At the World Education Forum, held in 2000 that year in Dakar, new deadlines were fixed: all children should complete "compulsory primary education of good quality" by 2015. At the UN's Millennium Summit, heads of states adopted these targets as two of the eight Millennium Development Goals for reducing world poverty (Choike, 2008).

Access to education has become an important civil rights issue. Access to education for women and minority rights is still a major challenge (Leer, Snedeker and Koszorus, 2010). …

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