Education is recognized all over the world as the hinge around which the development of any nation revolves. However, a passing look at the pattern of women’s involvement in education in Nigeria reveals appalling low levels. In spite of all the commendable goals, objectives and benefits derived from education, Nigerian women still suffer a lot of constraints which militate against their personal and national development. The benefits of educating women seem to be vaguely misunderstood as a means of giving women more power over the men. Although research has shown basic education as a channel for reducing fertility, child mortality, promoting gender equality, increased overall productivity and so much more; there is still a huge gap to be filled as regards this context.
A woman who is properly educated can be referred to someone who has gone through series of processes to acquire knowledge, skills, habits and values that would enable her to function effectively as a member of the society. It exposes the woman to opportunities that will positively restructure her mind, build capacity and develop the inherent potentials for greatness that lies within her. If the vast majority of our women folk are educated, their personal development can be enhanced remarkably. Education is important for everyone, but it is a critical area of empowerment for women. A popular saying goes thus- “If you educate a girl or a woman, you educate a family, a region, or even a country’’ This is not only because education is an entry point to opportunity but also because women’s educational achievements have positive ripple effects within the family and across generations in the fulfilment of women’s obligation.
There is therefore no denying fact that education is vital in the self grooming of a woman as it gives her a sense of individuality which boosts her confidence. You must have noticed a clear cut difference between an educated and uneducated woman. Every aspect of her life ranging from her physical appearance, mental capacity, thought patterns, approach to life issues is structured and precise. The importance of empowering a woman through education cuts across different sectors from family, community, workforce, health, environment, the nation and the world at large.
An educated woman is a plus to any family because she has the ability to make sound decisions that can move the family forward. She will be able to help her children with their school assignments and instill the right information and knowledge into them because she is exposed and enlightened. She also has the ability to measure their academic performances and tender solutions in seemingly challenged areas.
If women are educated, they will be able to assist in nation building and reconstruction. A few women are currently holding powerful positions in our country and there is still room for improvement if women are willing to give it what it takes. It is also pertinent to mention here that the higher the level of education, the greater the likelihood that a women will stay in the labour force. This creates an ever increasing pool of experienced, skilled and talented personnel from which positions for the local, state or federal levels can be filled. Perhaps with more women managing the socio-political state of affairs, there would be better outputs.
In the economic sphere, women can also engage in small scale or large scale businesses to support themselves, their families and also contribute to economic growth. This also requires some level of education as nominal skills such as good customer relations, financial management, feasibility studies, risk management etc will be needed to successfully run the business. This will drastically reduce poverty level and help achieve sustainable development.
A woman can become aware of harmful health conditions if she is educated, since most enlightenment campaigns against diseases are transmitted either through the radio, television, newspapers, posters, pamphlets or magazines usually in the local languages or English language. If women are educated they will have knowledge of basic health care and will be in a position to take the right steps to good healthcare.
Education is much more than reading, writing or just acquiring degrees. It is an essential investment, a crucial factor for changing women’s position in society. Empowerment means moving from enforced powerlessness to a relevant position of authority. It is an essential means of empowering to fully participate in the development process thereby raising a new generation of business contributors, community leaders, policy makers and world changers. Without an education, a woman is voiceless, cannot stand up for herself or face the impending challenges that life may bring her way.
Kelechi Onwumere is a research officer at WITIN.