The gender gap: how proper education for young women will boost equality – and the bottom line
18 October 2018 |
Educating females is vital to help get more women in leadership positions and improve economic growth. But for girls without access to schools, what is the best solution?
“We cannot succeed when we hold half of this population back,” says women’s rights and education activist Malala Yousafzai at VMWorld 2018 in Las Vegas.
“When we invest in girls, we are helping reduce poverty, helping tackle climate change and reduce extremism.” The winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in female education, Yousafzai is at the tip of the spear when it comes to fighting for diversity and inclusion in the workforce – the attempt on her life by the Taliban in 2009, when she was only 11, only spurred on her activism. But the gap is also leading to a poorer world financially too – research by the Malala Foundation and the World Bank have found limited educational opportunities for girls is costing countries between $15trillion and $30trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.
There are currently 130 million girls that do not have access to education across the world, Yousafzai points out. “It is important that we speak out for girls,” she says. “That we do something for them, because imagine when half of the population is held back. How can we think about success?
“Finance in education is crucial. You go to refugee camps. You go to these places and there is no funding. There is no finance towards education. There is always lack of funding. We have to push for that.”
Using technology to help tackle equality
But technology, she believes, can help in the push for equality. A project of the Malala Fund has been supporting educational platform Tabshoura in a Box, a pocket-sized, battery-powered server filled with educational content which works independently of the internet, and which acts as a hotspot where students can connect computers and access digital learning resources.
Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban after she spoke out about girls’ right to learn. The extremists had taken control of her town in the Swat Valley in Pakistan, banning many things from owning a television and playing music, and prohibiting girls from going to school.
“Technology has contributed a lot to the world,” she says. “Mobile phones are everywhere. These things are spreading. It is important for us to recognise the contribution [mobiles and computers are] making to the world, from raising awareness to giving tools to women [to gain] access to information.”
“If we do not educate our future generation, there will be a huge gap between the next generation and the education that they receive and the education that they do not receive. That gap worries me.”
By narrowing the gap, Yousafzai hopes more women will take more leadership jobs and be able to fulfill their dreams of becoming engineers, doctors or lawyers. VMWare is supporting the Malala Fund as part of its focus on a diverse, inclusive workforce. The tech giant has a partnership with Stanford University to research the area of females and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths), with the aim of getting more women into leadership positions.