Unfortunately, for many girls in developing nations, they do not have the same access to education that women do in other countries. Studies show that the estimate is around 131 million girls that cannot access adequate education for various reasons. Some of these reasons include cultural norms or gender-based violence, which disproportionately affect girls. When women lack the necessary education, it has far-reaching implications that affect them, their families, their communities, and their nation as a whole.

Why the lack of education?

There are various factors at play as to why girls in many developing countries do not receive adequate education. One of the biggest issues is families living in poverty who can only afford to send one child to school; virtually always, the child chosen will be male. This attitude often develops from more traditional cultural views that think girls should be kept at home to help with domestic tasks and taught how to be good wives and mothers. Education equality is inherently linked to gender equality, something that often has to be improved in many developing nations. Far too often, girls face physical and/or sexual abuse, which prevents a safe learning environment. Large amounts of girls also become child brides, which pushes them into the role of wife and puts them in charge of a household instead of allowing them to attend school and further their educations.

Why it needs to change

We know that in order to see innovation and true improvement around the world, it’s important that girls receive the same education as their male counterparts. Getting a quality education leads to benefits for the girls, their families, their communities, and their countries. Without girls receiving a proper education, it leaves half of a nation’s potential workforce and innovators behind and without the resources they need to achieve goals. Many of these girls have incredible potential and it’s a shame to leave that untapped.

When girls do not receive proper education, it holds the entire country back from making more progress. It’s incredibly difficult for the women living in countries that don’t provide girls with a proper education to reach their full potential and use their intelligence and resources to change the world for the better. Educating girls also improves women’s health, leading to healthier families, lower mortality rates, and less poverty.

What we can do

The first step we can take to help improve the state of education for girls in developing countries is raise awareness. Talk to people about the current state of affairs and familiarize yourself with statistics. The more people know, the more they’ll want to do something to change what’s happening. You can also donate to legitimate organizations that focus on improving education for girls around the world. Do research on these philanthropies to make sure your money is going to further the cause. Finally, you could personally get involved in efforts; volunteer at a charity working on educating girls or even travel to countries to help establish better education in the area and talk to the girls you’ll be helping. There are endless ways to get involved and make a difference; get started now!

Originally published at medium.com