THE heart-warming sight of girls dressed in uniforms, cycling through lush green paddy fields to get to school, has become increasingly common in rural India. This stands as a testament to the significant progress the country has made in improving girls’ education. In 1951, barely 1 out 10 women in India were able to read and write. With various schemes and policies implemented by successive governments, the female literacy rate has improved to 77%. The doors to education for girls in India, which remained closed for decades, were broken down by not just government efforts but also by civil society and non-government organisations (NGOs). NGOs and Individuals have played a pivotal role in paving the way for girls’ education in India.

However, despite these efforts, there is still a significant gender disparity in the education system, with girls being less likely to receive an education than boys. From a lack of resources and availability of school infrastructure to poverty, child labour and early marriages, many reasons restrict girls’ education access. Acknowledging the wide gap that still exists in girls’ education, Give has resolved to ease access to education for girl children and, in this line, has commenced its mission, Every Girl in School. As part of the mission, Give aims to enable and empower a group of NGOs fighting for this cause and creating a significant impact in different parts of the country.

Girls' education is important as they can make a huge difference for future generations too.

While we all believe and support that every girl should have a right to education, it is also important to understand the reasons behind a significant gap in education between girls and boys.

Here are 5 reasons behind the low education levels in girl children in India.

Gender Discrimination

One of the primary reasons behind the low education levels in girl children in India is gender discrimination. In many parts of India, girls are still considered inferior to boys, and their education is not considered a priority. Families often prefer to invest in their sons’ education rather than their daughters, which results in girls being left behind. This discrimination also manifests in cultural norms that discourage girls from going to school or participating in extracurricular activities. Additionally, families often prioritise getting girls married off instead of continuing their education.

Financial Constraints

Another reason for low education levels in girl children is financial constraints. Families living in poverty often struggle to afford basic necessities, including education. With limited financial resources, families are more likely to invest in their sons’ education than their daughters, further exacerbating the gender gap in education. Girls are also more likely to drop out of school early to work and support their families.

Lack of Access to Schools

A lack of school access is also a significant barrier to girls’ education in India. In many rural areas, schools are few and far between, and families often cannot afford to send their daughters to schools far away. Moreover, even when schools are available, they may lack basic facilities such as toilets, running water, and electricity. This makes it difficult for girls to attend school regularly, particularly during menstruation.

More access to education to girls means more empowerment and greater chances to step out of poverty

Early Marriage

Early marriage is another factor that contributes to low education levels in girl children in India. In some parts of the country, girls are married off at a young age, sometimes as young as 12. Once married, girls are expected to take on domestic responsibilities and bear children, which often means the end of their education.

Social and Cultural Norms

This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and reinforces gender disparities. Cultural and social norms also play a significant role in limiting girls’ education in India. Girls are often expected to conform to traditional gender roles, prioritising domestic responsibilities over education. Girls are expected to learn how to cook, clean, and care for their families, while boys are encouraged to pursue education and career opportunities. This reinforces gender disparities and limits girls’ opportunities to succeed.

Low education levels in girl children in India are complex issues that require multifaceted solutions. Addressing gender discrimination, improving access to education, addressing safety concerns, and challenging cultural and social norms are all essential steps towards achieving gender parity in education. Moreover, investing in girls’ education is a matter of social justice and a critical step towards building a stronger and more prosperous India. It is time for us as a society to come forward to ensure that every girl in India has access to quality education and an equal opportunity to succeed. You, too, can show your support for this cause by contributing to Mission: Every Girl In School.

This blog was updated in December 2023.

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