'To teach a girl is to teach a whole society': Drought highlights importance of girls' education

All of Ethiopia is suffering the effects of the worst drought in half a century, but the country's girls and women are bearing the brunt of the suffering -- and now more than ever, helping women and girls will translate into helping the entire country. This report from ActionAid shows why supporting girls' education must remain a top priority worldwide.

actionaid.org - The worst drought that Ethiopia has seen for 50 years is ravaging the country and women and girls are being disproportionately impacted as mothers struggle to feed their children, girls drop out of school and both women and girls face rising levels of violence from men. As the strain to find food puts families under pressure, young girls like Chaltu are forced to make sacrifices.

“Last year the rain was not here so my family wasn’t able to get money to pay for education. I felt very sad because I had been in school for eight years, it was a very sad moment for me.”

As the El Nino-induced drought took a hold of Kombolcha, Ethiopia, 15-year-old Chaltu was forced to drop out of school. The failure of crops, death of livestock and the resulting financial strain of over ten million people being in need of food aid has led to a sharp decline in families’ incomes and the education of young girls is being sacrificed.

Of the 1158 students in Chaltu’s high school, 239 students have dropped out in the past year alone – a fifth of the school’s total population.

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