Women and Education in Malawi Part I

Women and Education in Malawi

The right to education is a universal human right . Education is, in addition to being important in itself, crucial to achieving other development goals. Nevertheless, not everyone has access to education, and there are large differences both between countries and between genders. It hinders fair and sustainable development .

  • What kind of country is Malawi?
  • What are some of the challenges that women in Malawi face?
  • How can education for women make a difference?
  • What can guys in Malawi get out of this year’s NPD?

With little room for advice, we have chosen to concentrate the NPD article on one of the two NPD countries: Malawi. What can you find out for yourself about the other project country in 2014 – Ethiopia and (HHD 2015: 10) ?

2: Background conditions

Malawi, as a country located in Africa according to top-mba-universities.com, is often called the ” warm heart of Africa “, for several reasons. The country is located in the middle of Africa, the climate is evenly warm all year round, and the population is known to be particularly friendly. It is a peaceful country, with fewer political, religious and military conflicts than many of its neighbors. Malawi is among the African countries that have made the most progress in achieving some key development goals.

Nevertheless, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Population growth is high and average income low. Most of the inhabitants live in the countryside. There they depend on manageable temperatures and precipitation to be able to grow food, and there is a long way between the markets. The situation may become more difficult in the years to come, as Malawi is among the countries that are likely to be hardest hit by climate change. As in other poor countries, women are doubly affected. Households rented by women are on average poorer than households rented by men. In the urban area, men own around 80 per cent of homes and land, women only 20 per cent. More and better education for women is one of the vegans out of this wealth.

3: Feminized poverty trap

Most Malawians live outside the cities, and the main source of income is subsistence farming (subsistence farming) – cultivation primarily for their own consumption. More than half of the population is counted as poor.

Poverty has many consequences. It will be difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to meet basic needs. Many people can not afford enough food, enough clothes or a roof over their heads. Lack of food can lead to malnutrition, which in turn creates poorer preconditions for learning, and lower work capacity. In addition, malnutrition entails a significant health risk. In a country with few and poor health services, and low capacity in the health care system, and that large parts of the population live off physical work, this is an extra big problem. Less good sanitation – lack of separate toilet and running water – creates fertile ground for many diseases in both children and adults. The opportunity to make choices that can increase incomes in the future will be less – something that in turn makes it difficult to get out of poverty. This is often called a poverty trap .

In many countries, including Malawi, women are more likely to fall into such a trap than men. Malawian women earn less than men, and have fewer opportunities to influence decisions that apply to them. The position of women is also affected by the high population growth. In addition to giving birth to their own children, women are often given responsibility for other people’s children because many die of AIDS and other diseases. For the same reason, many children – usually girls – are responsible for younger siblings. This in turn reduces their opportunities to get an education and to participate in the labor market outside the home.

More education is a good thing not only for the girls themselves, but for society as a whole: It is estimated that the gross domestic product in a low-income country increases by 0.37 percent for a quarter of an extra year of schooling, while the future income for each girl increases by 10 to 20 percent. The way out of the poverty trap for girls is thus also a step on the way out of poverty for Malawi.

Climate change could exacerbate the inequality between the position of men and women in Malawian society. All over the world, the poorest will be hardest hit by these changes, and households rented by women are often the most vulnerable. Female farmers on average have lower productivity than men, partly because it is more difficult for them to take out loans. This makes it more difficult to buy necessary input factors such as fertilizer and seeds.

In addition, it is often women and girls who have the task of fetching water and firewood. It will take an even larger part of the day when there is expected to be more drought and more deforestation. When life in the countryside becomes even more labor-intensive, at the same time as production becomes lower, it leads to increased urbanization and pressure on the labor markets in the cities. This in turn could have a negative effect on women who have less work experience and lower education.

4: Education and vulnerability trap

Education provides opportunities , both to get a job and to participate more in the surrounding society. A full-fledged democracy depends on most people being able to read, write and take a stand in the elections they are faced with. Education can contribute to more independence for the individual and thus make it possible for girls to participate in the labor market. Women who have the opportunity to earn their own income, and to decide over the money they earn, have a greater chance of being heard in – and making – decisions that affect their lives.

Today, just over 70 percent of Malawian girls between the ages of 15 and 24 can read; between boys in the same age group, the figure is just under 80 percent. Many Malawians – estimated to win more than half – do not complete primary school . It is partly due to poverty. In addition, both parents and pupils are often critical of both the relevance and quality of the education – the school classes are large, the supply of teaching materials is poor, and there are too few trained teachers. The opportunity to get a job after graduation is also not always available. These problems are common to boys and girls, albeit to a slightly different degree, and may increase with the strong population growth. Girls also face some additional challenges, which increases with age, between other violence and abuse at school or on the way to school. In addition, early marriage and pregnancy are widespread.

According to Malawian law, girls who have become pregnant have the right to return to school after the child is born, or after the pregnancy has otherwise ended, but this right is not always fulfilled. Nor does the mother herself have the opportunity or desire to return. Thus, pregnancy often means that education is interrupted. In addition, childbirth poses major health challenges for the very young women.

Teenage marriage is also linked to poverty. It is expensive for a family to have many children living at home. Today, about half of Malawian girls get married before the age of 18. Girls who marry before they reach adulthood, and before they have finished school, become vulnerable. Thus, it can be difficult to make decisions related to sexual and reproductive health. There are often few alternatives to staying in the marriage if they should be exposed to violence in the home . Nearly a third of married women in Malawi have been, or are, being subjected to violence in close relationships.

The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch is among those who have criticized the spread of early marriages, and Malawi has also been criticized in the Human Rights Council (UN) for not raping before marriage is covered by the current legislation in the country. Lack of knowledge about one’s own rights, and less ability to ensure that rights are fulfilled, represents another form of trap – a vulnerability trap . Lower education leads to increased vulnerability, which in turn provides fewer opportunities.

Women and Education in Malawi