The Struggle for Formal Education
The international Women’s Day is celebrated to recognize the struggles and achievements of women around the word. Two of the most prominent of these achievements are the right to vote and the right to education.
The struggle for women’s equality began in early 19th century. In the 1830’s, while maintaining their role as wives and mothers, women’s movement in America sought to broaden their knowledge through a formal college education. However, the cult of motherhood and limited social and political rights during that time restricted this education to home application. For instance, the American educators who pushed for women’s education justified their efforts on the benefits of education in the domestic sphere, in marriage, and motherhood. Consequently, colleges offered a limited range of courses that are mostly relevant to women’s role as homemakers and mothers.
The fight for their right to education was further made difficult and prolonged by the fear that educated women would abandon their traditional domestic duties and intrude upon the male sphere. In fact, the male-dominated popular press of the early 20th century even publicized the notion that women are destined parlor, nursery, and kitchen workers and mentally and physiologically incapable of education. Moreover, although firmly promoting equality for women, the movement itself during that time had no strong position on the role of educated women in western society and in fact spreading the doctrine of separate spheres.
Women had achieved the right to vote in the 1920 but made little progress in their struggle for employment and education. Women remained largely excluded in the educational system until they started to pursue higher education and earned more bachelor's degree than men in the 1980s.
Achieving Gender Equality Through Education
Education for women is one of UNESCO’s gender equality priorities. Consequently, most educational systems around the world offer women education and empowerment. Women’s continuing effort to improved their knowledge and skills not only resulted in the creation of more institutions for women’s learning but recognition of the fact that women’s education is as necessary and beneficial as that of men.
The study shows that that are more women in formal education now than in the past. The reason is that formal schooling not only enhanced their opportunity for employment but also improved their conditions in life. In developing countries, for instance, educational helped women meet their practical gender needs, benefit from salaried employment and healthier households. However, due to cultural attitudes, women in some developing nations appear restrained and need to put more effort in their quest equality, knowledge, and skills.
Although the majority of developing nations, provide women greater access to formal education, they are restrained by cultural attitudes pertaining to female education. In fact, study shows that education for females in some African countries lagged behind that of males. Some of the barriers found include sexual abuse and harassment, particularly in mixed gender schools.
Education had already improved the lives of millions of women around the world. They have greater access to higher education offered by public and private universities. Women are increasingly benefitting from online courses offered by Open University and Continuing Education Programs. They are now empowered, independent, have greater participation in government, and better employment opportunities.