Empower a girl child by educating her

Nearly one-sixth of the 6 plus billion people that is approximately over a billion people, in the world cannot read or write, according to a survey published by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). To make matters worse, the study predicts that illiteracy rates will steadily rise in the next century because only 1 of every 4 children in the poorest nations is now in school. More than half those denied education are girls, UNICEF, said in its annual report, "The State of the World's Children."

'A 10-percentage-point increase in girls' primary enrollment can be expected to decrease infant mortality by 4.1 deaths per 1,000, and a similar rise in girls' secondary enrollment by another 5.6 deaths per 1,000," the report says. "This would mean concretely in the Indian subcontinent, for example, that an extra year of schooling for 1,000 girls would ultimately prevent roughly 60 infant deaths." Fertility drops sharply as education rises, UNICEF says. In Brazil, the report found, illiterate women have an average of 6.5 children, and mothers with secondary-school education have an average of 2.5 children.

UNICEF and other groups that work with children say education should be guaranteed under the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. But the intentions of the treaty are overwhelmed by a host of problems, including economic crises in countries like Russia and Indonesia. Widespread ethnic conflict has made refugees of millions of children and destroyed their schools at a time when international aid for education projects is decreasing.

Unfortunately, education often has to compete with more pressing immediate needs like food and shelter, although refugee experts agree that one of the most effective ways to create a sense of stability and normality among displaced children, many of them orphans, is to establish classrooms, however rudimentary. Schooling is also often denied to young people because governments do not give schools a high priority or make it easy for families to send children. "Often when we interview street kids they say they are on the street because they were kicked out school," said Yodon Thonden, counsel in the children's rights division of Human Rights Watch, a rights group in New York. "Free education necessarily compulsory, and sometimes there are costs, which places education beyond the reach of many families, costs of things like books or uniforms or shoes."

1. Provide girls with an opportunity to get education

2. Campaign to eliminate discrimination against girl child

3. Spread awareness about trafficking in girls

4. Empower women by advocacy for equal rights

5. Campaign against female infenticide and foeticide