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Education and Gender Equity

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Introduction

Many feminist reports indicate the significance of women education in the society and the anticipated social, political and economic liberalization. The rate of acceptance of women in public education has always been biased.  This leads to fewer women having access to modern education which limits their future opportunity and advancement not only in the third world countries but, also in some more developed nations.

Education in China

Since 1980s, education has been widely promoted in the People’s Republic of China. However, this is not the first time the China’s history attempt to develop gender based education. This essay traces the development of China’s education systems and its impact on the societal development.

Although china’s education history dates back to more than three millenniums, the Chinese women never enjoyed the privilege until the 1960s. The women were confined into an oppressed social status by the Confucian ideology that was deep rooted in the country’s history. More to this, the historical ideology continues with the trend of educational discrimination against women which would otherwise set the foundation of eliminating this practice. The educational discrimination on gender was sustained by the feudal dynasty that never liked anything to do with women empowerment (Weitzman, pg. 90). After the fall of this rule in the twentieth century, changes begun to occur when the nationalist government took over.

However, despite china being the most populated country, the educational opportunity for their women is far below those of men. Though socialist have tried to promote policies on gender equality, there’s much more to be done for this index to reach the international standards. The achievement and opportunities for women in education still exist and, the social positional imbalance needs to be rectified.

The history of gender discrimination

Over five thousand years ago, China women experienced severe discrimination over the issue of civilization. They were only recognized for domestic chores and reproduction as their only contribution to society. The Confucian ideology barred them from attaining formal education the same as men. They were referred as crooks that were unteachable. They only received informal education such as how to behave like a good woman. They were referred to as inferior to men from birth to death. A girl was considered a loss to the family because she would eventually belong to her husband. A woman’s social worth was always considered in terms of a man, she was referred to be subordinate to her husband who advanced his social position (Mendes, Errol & Sakanthala, pg 230).

These ill practices were reinforced and preserved from the beginning of a girl’s upbringing. Among the girl’s childhood education were the expected norms of loyalty and subordination to men in the family. Only those girls from well to do families had the slightest privilege to accompany their brothers to school, but could only learn the basic skills in education like to read and write only. The more informally a woman got educated, the more she was subjected to a man’s control both psychologically and mentally. 

The culture also prevented women from participating in social, political and academic public events. Such events include exclusion participation in an imperial examination, which helped the government select its officials. This exclusion was never questioned for that period it was in existence.

The current situation

Formal education to women in china started with the western missionaries. In the 18th century, religious schools that offered religion math and science to females began in Jiang Su and Ning Po provinces of China. Their free services attracted many young girls and the system developed gradually to the extent of taking students abroad for further studies.  Although, the original goal was to christen the students, they became the pioneers early days of women’s formal education (Auth, 43-67).

Despite attempts to establish a fully integrated female school in 1898, political turbulence could not let it thrive. The school that offered a curriculum including English, Chinese, medicine, arithmetic and home economics only lasted for two years. Efforts to expand the school revived in 1900 with women rights advocates and formalized home schooling for females. The government issued an amendment in 1904 to allow young females to attend school, though their attendance was restricted to elementary and normal school. In the amendment, there was prohibition on foot binding to girls attending school. The government also made several other amendments that encouraged more women to pursue higher education and seek formal jobs.

In the twentieth century, Chinese women benefited from the emergence of a feminist movement that was introduced in their culture by the western scholars. The communist party introduced a gender equality policy in 1944 that reinforced the Marxist ideology. Mao stated in a statement that women can hold half the sky and the slogan became more and more popular. And for the first time, all girls got the opportunity to go to school.

Currently, the central government greatly influences execution of gender equality policies, where every woman receives education for upward mobility. Female professional in china today accounts for 30% and the number keeps on growing. The women literacy rate has risen from 0-10% over the last fifty years. The gender biased employment practices forced women to go for lower paying jobs than their expectations and gave up on continuing with education, but the trend has now changed.

The imbalanced opportunities are that despite the socialists’ efforts to promote gender equity, social and cultural practices could not be overcome. Hence, the education gap between male and female still dominate due to the inequality demonstrated by literacy rates. At the age of twelve, there’s an illiteracy difference of 18% but the rate rises to 20% for the age of 18.

Female in the rural set up suffers more on the reduced opportunities more than their urban counterparts.  Rural and poverty stricken areas reveal an urgent need for female teachers as a role model for girls who participate in education. Therefore, education enrollments for Chinese women must be increased significantly to enable the country equalize its opportunities to everyone. When everyone will become aware of gender discrimination and be free to share power, wealth and opportunity, feminist literacy will be fully accomplished.

Women education in America

In America, there’s not much difference with China. Indeed, barriers to education for women continue to stereotype images on the women roles in society to perpetuate their discrimination. This is a common feature especially in Latin America where absenteeism and school dropout for female students in a norm. Unlike in china where the major obstacle was culture, the dropout rate in these American countries is highly due to state negligence to impact the necessary measures of protection. Teenage pregnancies prohibit continuation on education especially where the school system does not allow pregnant students to pursue education. The law does not also provide proper protection on sexual harassment and violence on teenage girls are among the factors that drive girls away from school (Lorber, pg 26). 

Though, the number of women who graduate from institutions of higher education gradually increases, the rate of absorption in the job market is not convincing. They do not get better jobs with higher wages than men. There is a constant reminder to governments to not only assuring the girls a right to education, but also establish some social conditions to enable them achieve professional fulfillment for equal opportunities (Lie, Suzanne, Lynda, & Harris, pg 120-128).

The government should remove obstacles to exercise, observe and guarantee the right to education and work which are common factors that contribute to serious poverty and inequality among women in the world. These factors also contribute to limited access of control on economic resources and the reason why the IACHR expressed grave concerns over the poverty in America.

Although the American system is easily adapting to the global change, its history of oppression is not as deep rooted as that of China (Mann, pg. 67). The American cultural system has undergone a series of metamorphosis due to a high rate of interaction between people of different cultural backgrounds. The interaction between the red Indians, the blacks and the Native Americans neutralized the impact of a dominant culture. This gave room to adaptation of a hybrid culture that met believes of each group and facilitated the adoption of proper education system.

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