More than 60 million primary-school-age girls don’t attend school, and 45 million of them belong to socially excluded groups, author Marlaine Lockheed, Ph.D., told an audience attending the first lecture in a series on “Gender Dimensions of Global Poverty,” sponsored by Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Lockheed, author of Inexcusable Absence (Center for Global Development, 2006), visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development and former interim director of education for the World Bank, said that effective intervention would require several steps. She suggested altering education policies, expanding school options to include alternative and pre-schools, and creating incentives (such as stipends) for households to send girls to school.
“These are populations sidelined in their own countries; isolated clans, hill tribes, ethnic minorities, those accorded lower esteem by the general populations,” she said. “Whatever creates their conditions, the consequences are very real.”
The lecture series opened with “Improving Women’s Access to Education,” a discussion held Jan. 30 in the Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center campus. Panelist Gwendolyn Tedeschi, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, said that Lockheed “thinks outside the box” in her book, and reiterated that early education, especially in poor countries, was key to breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
“Once you get girls in school, it will be much harder to remove them from the system,” she said.
Cream Wright, Ph.D., global chief of education for UNICEF, said that poverty, not gender, creates the most significant disparity in lack of education. However, he said “in those disparities, girls always fare worse than boys.” Wright said that without tackling the problem of adult illiteracy, gender parity in education will take a “long, long time.”