Boko Haram Is Fully Aware of the Transformative Power of Girls’ Education. This Is Why They Oppose It.

Education is one of the most transformative endeavours a child undertakes. This is why Boko Haram and other extremist organizations, including the Taliban, oppose it. In many developing countries, the percentage of girls completing secondary education is lower than 25%.

When a high percentage of girls participate in, or ideally complete, secondary school, their life expectations change as does their behavior, and many benefits will be accrued by them, their families, and their communities. Here are ten outcomes of secondary education of note:

1-    The percentage of girls who are married of at the ages of 12, 13, or 14, will decrease, and the age at which they marry will be delayed. The World Bank says in one of its reports: “some 65 percent of women with primary education or less globally are married as children, and condone wife-beating, compared with 5 percent of women who finish high school.

2-    Once married, the young women will have a say in how many pregnancies they should have resulting in a decrease in the number of pregnancies.  In some rural areas in Northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Somalia, or in Afghanistan for example, the number of pregnancies per uneducated woman is often 8 or 9 pregnancies, that number decreases when the woman is educated;

3-    Educated mothers worldwide with functional and analytic literacy have lower infant and child mortality rates;

4-    Educated mothers with functional and analytic literacy and with fewer pregnancies also have lower percentages of maternal mortality;

5-    Educated women are empowered to access additional opportunities and are almost always more engaged in the activities of their communities;

6-    Educated women assume more responsibility in the decision making process within their households;

7-    Often, educated women are not limited to traditional labor that is often unpaid: they look for, and find, paying jobs or run businesses;

8-    Educated women use their income to lift their families from poverty;

9-    Research on women with more education indicates they have more decision power over their own earnings; and lastly

10-By completing secondary education, the vulnerability of girls and young and women is reduced, as are abuses and gender-based violence, at home and within their societies.




A girl that completes secondary education is empowered in very practical ways and tends to assert herself and play a positive transformative role in the social and economic decisions of her home, her family, and her community.

That is what extremists like Boko Haram, the Taliban, and ISIS seek to stop. Empowered women with minds of their own, and women who want to help determine their and their families’ futures as equal partners are not acceptable to such extremists.  Educated women are less likely to accept the oppression that extremists want to impose on them and on their communities.

The voices of educated women can and will become a transformative factor in very traditional societies where extremists dominate life and political discourse.

By: May Rihani

May Rihani is the author of the book Cultures Without Borders. Read more about her on her website www.mayrihani.com .

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