A barrier-breaking generation gives context to contemporary female life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Day of the Girl: The Threat of Education

Today is the first International Day of the Girl. In the public health world, where I worked for 13 years, it was always said that the most efficient and effective way to improve health globally was to educate girls and women. It also happens to be the best way to improve economies and to enlighten societies. This is unsettling to static, patriarchal nations. It may even be unsettling to people in our own country.

In "Her Crime Was Loving Schools," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written about the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot this week by the Taliban for advocating for girls' education. The point blank shooting by masked men who boarded her school bus in the assassination attempt -- was an abomination decried by the Pakistani government and one that should be denounced by all who call themselves civilized. [at this writing Malala Yousafzai is still alive but in critical condition after bullets to her head and neck]

Kristof writes that the shooting and other recent international assaults against girls "remind us that the global struggle for gender equality is the paramount moral struggle of this century, equivalent to the campaigns against slavery in the 19th century and against totalitarianism in the 20th century."

Kristof does not exaggerate. I add to his words my archived blog post on the 40th anniversary of coeducation at Princeton University and the work that remains to assure that girls worldwide reach their human potential.

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