Easter Island, a once thriving island with great species diversity and fertile soil became almost uninhabitable when it became overpopulated and the demand for resources surpassed what the island could produce(Lin, 2017). This historic phenomenon will be a small-scale model of what will happen to the entire world if the demand for resources and devastating effects on the environment continue to increase. “Human activities, including mining, transportation, pollution, agriculture, development, and logging…contribute to climate change”(Lin, 2017). Today, with over seven billion people, our world is considered overpopulated which means we have exceeded the “maximum number of individuals… that can exist in a habitat indefinitely without threatening other species in that habitat”(Lin, 2017). To decrease our effect on our planet we have to decrease our demand of Earth’s resources which goes beyond reducing personal consumption;”while cutting back on your personal consumption of resources is laudable and may reduce your environmental footprint by 5%, 25%, or maybe even 50%, having a child will double your footprint, and having two children will triple your footprint.
It is virtually impossible to compensate for reproducing by consuming less”(Lin, 2018). To make a large reduction in consumption we need to reduce our population growth rate, which means we need to have fewer kids. This is where women’s access to education becomes not just a social issue, but also an environmental issue. Increasing girl’s access to education will decrease human impact on the environment. Education greatly impacts how many children a woman will have; a large number of girls lacking access to education today will lead to more children and therefore a greater impact on the environment in the near future. To combat this result, school systems need to implement actions that will make going to school more attainable. Oppositions exist within certain cultures about girls obtaining an education, but more educated women contribute to society and increase the quality of life. Life as an American student involves anxiously waiting for the bell to ring so students can leave school, yet our extensive access to education is overlooked given that many children around the world can’t go to school. The staggering number of girls that lack access to school is put at approximately 130 million, according to an index published by the ONE Campaign on October 10th, 2017(Their News team, 2017).
Reducing the number of girls out of school may reduce our population growth rate. There is a close connection between the years of schooling a woman receives and the total number of children she will have. “Data show[s] that the higher the level of a woman’s educational attainment, the fewer children she is likely to bear”(Pradhan, 2015). “The difference between 0 years of schooling and 12 years is almost 4 to 5 children per woman”(Kharas,2016). The high number of girls out of school today will create a large growth in human population and resource consumption which then contributes to overpopulation. “An education reform in Kenya that increased the length of primary education by a year [which] resulted in increased female educational attainment, and delayed marriage and fertility”(Pradhan, 2015) shows how completing more years of school correlates to the delay of starting a family. Elina Pradhan evaluates several theories and models suggesting a more in-depth reason to why more years of schooling equals fewer children; its predicted that women who are educated loose career and money opportunities when they have children instead of continuing education, they have more power and influence in the family to dictate family size, and they have a multicultural perspective which can give different ideas on family size(2015).
If more women’s education means fewer children and therefore less growth in population and less impact on the environment, an increase in women’s access to education should be a major worldwide priority. To achieve more female attendees we need to address what is keeping girls out of school; the list is long but includes school being too expensive and girls feeling vulnerable because they are greatly outnumbered by males. In many countries, families need to pay fees to cover the material cost and to support the school(Rueckert, 2018), “eliminating these unofficial fees can be one of the easiest ways to increase female enrollment and attendance”(Dunn,2018). In fact, countries that have abolished these school fees have already seen an increase in school attendance(Rueckert, 2018). Also, “the lack of female teachers in some countries can make school a daunting experience for girls. The presence of more women would provide a girl-friendly environment that would put young girls at ease”(Their News Team). Parents would also be more comfortable and likely to send their girls to school if there was an increase in the recruitment of female teachers(Archer, 2014). “As more women pursue higher education and enter careers, younger girls will have role models to show them that higher education is attainable for females. Also, these role models will demonstrate that pursuing education opens doors to opportunities otherwise forever unavailable to girls”(Dunn,2018). Reducing school fees and increasing female role models will make the solution of girls going to school more of a reality. Activating solutions to put more girls in school is often opposed by an underlying cultural belief.
Many cultures in developing countries believe that roles within the family and society, including access to education, depends on gender. One such country is Nigeria, where “ideological beliefs about the unimportance of education for females”(Dunn, 2018) can be linked to the country’s high number of girls out of school. “While educating a boy is considered a sound investment, it is sometimes considered to be a waste of time for girls”(Their News Team, 2017). This being said, “education for girls is often the lowest budget priority in many countries”(Their News Team, 2017). In Nigeria, “the bride price a family can command for their daughter is seldom linked to her educational achievement, so some parents see no incentive in sending their girls to school”(Archer,2014). “Daughters are perceived to be less valuable once educated, and less likely to abide by the will of the father, brother or husband. Often male siblings will be given the chance to attend school instead”(Their News Team, 2017). Because of the high number of school fees, “poverty forces many families to choose which of their children to send to school. Girls often miss out due to the belief that there’s less value in educating a girl than a boy.
Instead, they are sent to work or made to stay at home to look after siblings and work on household chores”(Rueckert, 2018). This cultural belief that women don’t need education is “exacerbated by some religious leaders, who argue that educating girls is un-Islamic”(Archer,2014). Many people in developing countries believe that women obtaining an education will not benefit society. Although past cultures have functioned without women going to school, a more educated society, consisting of both men and women, has many benefits. “The benefits of extending education to women reach not only.. specific women, but society as a whole. Many experts agree that focusing on women’s education is one of the best investments a developing nation can make”(Dunn,2018). More education for women results in a country’s development; “female education rates are directly correlated with national economic growth. Educated women are more likely to hold stable jobs, less likely to be in poverty, and more likely to contribute to the overall economy”(Dunn,2018). It’s estimated that “some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys”(Their News Team, 2017). To add on to economic development, women’s schooling results in the increased health of society’s members. “Evidence shows that if we invest more in education, poverty is reduced at a faster rate…[and] there are long-term health benefits”(Their News Team, 2017). There is a direct correlation between the amount of schooling one receives and their likelihood of living in poverty; those who don’t receive an education have little chance of escaping poverty(Archer, 2014).
“Levels of female education correlate directly with improved health and an overall increased quality of life. Educated women are more likely to seek proper medical care both for themselves ??” especially maternal care ??” and their children”(Dunn,2018). Women’s education will grow economies and increase the health of society’s members. An increase in women’s access to education decreases the amount of children women will have, which then decreases the future consumption of resources which will decrease human’s effect on the environment. In order to increase women’s education, society needs to overcome cultural biases against women’s education, having female mentorship in more affordable schools will help with this. “Life on earth is currently experiencing its sixth major extinction”(Lin, 2017). To change the world’s current effects on the environment we need to reduce our growth rate by immediately taking action to educate women. As “Lester Brown, President of Worldwatch, stated in 1998, ‘The question is not whether population growth will slow in the developing countries, but whether it will slow because societies quickly shift to smaller families or because ecological collapse and social disintegration caused death rates to rise'”(Lin, 2017).
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