Monday, December 8, 2014

From birth to education, the female child has always had it rough

She’s my daughter – your sister. Flickr, Steve Evans
Is a girl an inferior good? In other words, do the rich hate having girls for fear of losing their wealth when marriage beckons? Rich households might educate their children equally, whatever the gender, but what about the poor? The propensity for a girl born into poverty to drop out of primary school is high, and higher than that for boys.

The terrain was always rough for the girl child!

Many studies have confirmed the age old suspicious – the traditional aptitude towards the female gender from birth to education has been not so good. The sex ratio is skewed in favor of boys. Feticide is carried out in a higher proportion against girls, especially in the urban areas where the technology can be cheap to find. To make matters worse, developing countries depend much on patriarchal social structures, male dominated traditional systems, which discriminate against women. What might be new is research that suggests that the girl child might be an inferior good in India (pdf). An inferior good is one you tend to discard when your income is increasing. At marriage, the girl will bear the name of the husband. Whatever she inherits goes to the husband’s family; she ceases to belong to the family. Research has confirmed it that the incentive for female feticide is higher when wealth and inheritance are at stake.

In a related and recently published survey carried out in Nigeria, another developing economy, it was suggested that education, especially at the primary school level, was skewed in favor of the boy child. Girls marry early, the reasoning goes. A woman’s place is in the kitchen (pdf) and not behind a black board. Women empowerment is a goal for countries committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Increased women participation in national developmental programs like education can help reduce the situation. What is needed is a commitment to educating children; no matter the gender. Women equate to healthier children – gender notwithstanding. Women education equate to higher per capita income. Women education makes intergenerational education assured and secured.

We could help our girls become better women and help ourselves be a more secure nation. Please, the girl in your home is not an inferior good. Ignore what the research might suggest.

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