Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) seeks to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.
For WONDER foundation, this objective is crucial. Education is the foundation point from which progress for other SDGs can occur. Receiving quality education allows people to break out of the cycle of poverty, access decent work with fair wages and increase their own and their families’ quality of life. Quality education aids in the reduction of other socioeconomic issues by acting as a component of overall health and well-being, thereby helping to reduce global economic disparity.
WONDER, by partnering with diverse projects that seek to educate women and girls both within traditional academic settings as well as vocationally, works in 17 countries to ensure that women and girls gain the skills they need to thrive and create their own pathways out of poverty.
For women and girls, accessing equality education is crucial for decreasing gender inequality. Wonder believes that by focusing on education, the impact on women and girls is distinctly beneficial. Across the world, women face devastating disadvantages because of their gender with less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education.
Educating women often creates a ‘multiplier effect’. Women are far more likely than men to share the fruits of their labour and new found skills with their family and wider community resulting in wide socioeconomic benefits for all of society. For example, educated women are more likely to delay having children, have fewer children who are healthier and better educated thereby creating a new more sustainable and prosperous generation.
Moreover, WONDER recognises the importance of providing quality education to women and girls. Globally, we have seen an increase in education access for young people. However, there is an emerging gap between what schools are teaching and the skills that are needed in order to gain meaningful employment. Creating a generation with a useful skill-set requires place-specific education opportunities to ensure students can access jobs with decent wages within their economic markets.
For many in the developing world, this means that receiving a diverse range of technical and vocational training is more beneficial than gaining an academic skillset. For example, our partner programme, the Kamalini Vocation Training Centre in New Dehli provides women, from low-income, underprivileged families, with training and education in fashion design, cooking, housekeeping, English and ICT skills. By providing a market-specific education, over 60% of Kamalini graduates have reported that they have increased their income because of their new skillset. Education does not have to follow the traditional academic path when it is localised and good quality.
Furthermore, greater access to educational opportunities can also facilitate integration, creation of communities and the development of leadership skills. For example, our FATIMA project works with 210 female migrants, from non-EU countries, in the UK, Poland, Slovenia and Spain to use education and personal support systems as a tool for ensuring these women successfully integrate into their new communities.
The FATIMA project places a particular emphasis on language learning because it is one of the primary causes of the isolation many migrants feel in their new homes. FATIMA uses an innovative five-step program, with every woman enrolled receiving one-to-one support through language classes, mentoring, personalised development programmes, civic engagement and cultural activities alongside volunteering and work experience.
Supporting women and girls gives us the opportunity to contribute to long-term change through the creation of a more independent and prosperous female-kind. As SDG4 recognises receiving a quality education is a major component for advancing socioeconomic prosperity and breaking down the gender barrier.