Sat, 19 Sep 2020

The experience of the Chibok girls teaches us that the outlook for girls in remote communities with widespread poverty can be bleak. The social challenges faced by girls in rural South Africa might be less extreme than elsewhere, but they certainly exist.

If marriage and childbearing are prioritised over education, parents in rural areas might not see any point in sending girls to school.

When these beliefs collide with relatively low quality of rural education, it is easy to see why the average achievement of girls in rural and small-town schools is significantly lower than for girls attending urban and suburban schools as the TIMSS 2015 International Results in Mathematics showed.

Gender-based violence

The current public health crisis has brought issues of poverty and inequality into renewed focus.

As the economic outlook worsens, South African households find themselves facing impossible choices about whom to feed, educate and support; choices that no family should ever have to make.

Reports of gender-based violence in recent months are a tragic reminder of what is at stake if the welfare of South African women is not prioritised urgently and relentlessly.

We have had our own share of hashtags, outrage and forgetting. Our current trail of death and despair does not justify neglecting girls in our communities.

In fact, it is more important than ever that girls who are living in poverty be recognised and supported by all sections of our society.

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