This week, according to an article found in the Khaleej Times, Dubai Cares, a non-profit organization whose goal is to break the cycle of poverty through primary education, pledged Dh22 million (approximately 6 million USD) to girls’ education in the Philippines, South Sudan, and Mozambique. The money will go to improving school infrastructure, create new classrooms, and more teachers. Working with Plan International Canada, the funds will be distributed over 4 years to local NGOs that work to reduce barriers to education.
This donation is given in support of the International Day of the Girl, a UN recognized day, celebrated October 11. Though a great cause, one must question Dubai Cares’ motivation. When speaking on the issue, CEO of Dubai Cares, Tariq Al Guru, says:
“This is one of the gifts from Dubai to the world. As future mothers and wives, who will play an integral role in nurturing and raising families, these girls hold the key to a future generation of educated and enlightened children.”
And though it is true that girls are a crucial part of the future and should be treated as such, why does he refer to the girls as future mothers and wives? Why are they not called the future scientists or political leaders? Are the intentions of the organization to educate the future mothers who will then in turn educate their sons? More emphasis should be placed on what the girls can come to be besides just mothers and wives. Don’t get me wrong, being a mother or wife is a very important job and one that should not be looked down upon, but for these girls it is important to break cultural barriers and tell them that there is other roles open to them. They are not restricted to the conventional, traditional role of being a mother. If in the end they still choose to be mothers or wives, than that is great, but the choices must be out in the open.
The article goes on to name some of the common practices in countries with low literacy and poor access to schools, including: forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and gender discrimination. NGOs must look deeply into the root causes of these injustices and what works to perpetuate them. Education cannot be seen as the panacea for these problems. If more money is spent to improve access to girls’ education, these problems will not just disappear. More needs to be done to make sure that as a community forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and gender discrimination are no longer acceptable.
Shabandri, M. (2013, October 9). Dh22 million pledged for girls’ education.Khaleej Times. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/educationnation/2013/October/e.