Educating Women

(6 Posts)
PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 12-Apr-16 15:19:27

My Grandad, who was victorian, said that educating women was important as "educate an woman and you educate the family". As a child mum said this to me and I was really insulted as you should educate women for all the same reasons you educate men, blah blah blah.

But I am now reading about child brides around the world and this statement has come back to me, educated women will hopefully be less happy to sell their daughters into early marriage ("sold me to an old man" is a phrase i see said a bit by ex child brides, it is even a song lyric).

So my question is: is there a point in society when my grandad's statement is valid/pragmatic? and when does it change (if it ever was)?

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 12-Apr-16 16:08:06

I think the statement has some pragmatic value, though I think probably not so much for correcting large structural inequalities (like child marriage). I had always understood the phrase to refer to the fact that it's often women who do most of the raising of young children, so a literate woman (for example) can pass on literacy to her children more effectively than a literate man who does less childcare.

In that context, it is irritating - and very Victorian! - to assume a woman is educated for the purpose of transmitting education, but also a reasonable socialist principle.

I think I'd be more worried about the idea that an educated mother might stand up against a big patriarchal system. She might. But she doesn't have much by way of resources to do so. And there's a danger that the rest of us start, in effect, blaming these women - as people often do with FGM. So many times, when I've seen an article on FGM, someone will comment 'oh, but the mothers do it themselves, women do this to themselves'. And it deflects pressure from the people who actually have the power to make changes - who are rarely these women.

Also thinking about that man who was found guilty of enslaving his wife a couple of weeks ago (and given what I thought was a disturbingly lenient sentence). His wife was from an educated, liberated Pakistani family, but still ended up married to a British man who treated her as a slave. I could be wrong, but the impression I got was that he had tricked her entire family - including her mother - because, at the end of the day, he was the person who had the capacity and the cruelty to do what he did. www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/01/man-made-wife-live-like-slave-domestic-servitude-faces-jail

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Tue 12-Apr-16 16:35:47

Not quite education, but in micro finance they've proven that giving even very small amounts of funding to women has significantly better effects for their family and even the community than giving the same amount of money to men.

There's also a significant link between women's education and family planning, infant mortality and maternal mortality rates which just doesn't seem to appear with educating men. So in that vein it's not so much that educating a women is for the benefit of others, but that it's for the benefit of her and indirectly benefits others.

Tbh, when it comes to championing women's education I'd quite happily make all the pragmatic and potentially Victorian points that I could lay my hands on if it meant that people kept their daughters in school, governments funded women's literacy, facilities were created to enable girls to stay in school once starting puberty etc.

PalmerViolet Tue 12-Apr-16 17:05:51

It's also important to look at the structural difficulties for girls attending school.

I assume you're talking about girls' schooling in developing countries, in many African nations there is equal access to schools, however, once a girl starts her menses she is often unable to attend anymore due to either lack of sanitary protection, lack of facilities for girls to take care of their sanitary needs or cultural taboos around menstruating women. This is also often the case in rural parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. So, one of the best ways to enable girls to access education for longer is to facilitate local initiatives to break down taboos and to enable women to have access to adequate sanitary protection. These are often done by the women themselves, using micro loans and some pretty nifty new if totally Heath Robinson technologies. (Which, if anyone's interested, I have links for some women's collectives who are doing just this)

The child marriage thing is a long standing regional cultural thing, and is almost certainly based in reducing male violence to girls, in a kind of skewed way. If a girl "belongs" to a man, then random men are less likely to be inclined to "defile" another man's "property" IYSWIM? There's also the issue of families selling their daughters to older men as brides. Good quality education up til a girl is 16/18 does go some way to curbing the practice, but even in Britain, girls are married off to older relatives in their family's country of origin.

So yes, educating girls does help to reduce harms to future generations. Although, the Victorian thing in the UK was that there was no point in educating girls, because they just get married and waste it.

VestalVirgin Tue 12-Apr-16 20:40:21

It is a bit like "refugees will be good for European economy".

Like, it is technically true, but it is rather distasteful to actually use it as an argument, because refugees deserve safety no matter how useful their work might be, and women deserve education because we are people, not because there might be some benefits to male children in the future.

However, feminism has a long tradition of using pragmatic points. There are lots of feminist writings on how porn harms men. No one should care if porn harms men, it harms women and that's why it should be abolished - but we still point out that it harms men, too, because we know men won't do anything about it unless they are convinced it harms men.

Peyia Tue 12-Apr-16 21:58:44

I think your grandad was being pragmatic about family dynamics and being complementary of women in his own way.

He acknowledged the woman's worth, we bear the children and rear them and generally manage the family affairs. It's very old fashioned but a reality to many.

An educated woman will teach her children - but for my point - her son to care for himself and his children and not expect a woman to do it all. I intend to do that and I have taught my husband as much as he has taught me - his mum is a force to be reckoned with.

That's my very simplistic view on it all.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now