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Educating Women and Breaking Barriers

Nowadays we have become so transfixed on upholding women as intellectual equals to men that we have lost sight of the systematic shifts enabling women to reach their potential. Slowly but surely, women have made their mark in fields they were once banished from.

Investing into female education is invaluable. According to the World Bank, “better educated women tend to be more informed about nutrition and healthcare, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and their children are usually healthier, should they choose to become mothers”. In 2021, should women feel lucky to have been born into the 21st century, or should we be pushing for more? There are countless tales of women who chipped away at the barriers prohibiting them from reaching their potential. By doing so, each one of them caused a systematic shift for other women to nudge further themselves.

The politician, Edith Cowan (1861 – 1932) was an Australian social reformer for women and children’s rights as well as the first Australian woman to serve as a member of parliament. Cowan once said, “Women are very desirous of their being placed on absolutely equal terms with men. We ask for neither more nor less than that.”

Cowan was one of the founders of the Karrakatta Club (the first women’s social club), was prominent in the women’s suffrage movement, and helped to establish a state branch of the National Council for Women in 1911. Her belief passion for bettering the lives of women mark her as a fervent breaker of systematic boundaries.

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The computer scientist, Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) was a mathematician considered to be one of the first computer programmers and to have recognised the full potential of computers. Lovelace once said, “That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.”

Despite having to sign her work with her initials A.A.L, Lovelace helped to pave the way for women in computer science

The educationalist, Malala Yousafzai (1997 – Present) is a female education activist and the youngest Nobel Prize Winner. She once said, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”

Whilst on her way to school in 2012, she was shot in the head amid her campaigning for female education. Relentless in her determination to push for female education, Yousafzai inspired the world to do more from girls in rural areas.

Upholding and commemorating the experiences of inspirational women is necessary and important. I asked four female postgraduate friends to talk about female education in their respective cultures. From Malaysia, China, the USA and Lebanon, cultural differences protruded as the main variation between the women’s educational experiences. The common denominator? Each woman was passionate and purposeful in her goal, with an assured yet humble sense that nothing would stand in her way. Giving women a platform to voice their experiences ought to become the norm, not least to pass this passion gene onto future generations.

Olivia has recently completed a Master’s in Second Language Education at the University of Cambridge. Having achieved a 1st Class Hons in BA French and Chinese Mandarin with Business Management at undergraduate level. She is based in Dubai and works as a Social Sciences and Humanities Tutor for Carfax Education.

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