Today’s refugee crisis is so vast and so daunting that it is difficult to comprehend. Girls and women living as refugees are among the most vulnerable and face incredible challenges that threaten their very well being. Here is a glimpse into the magnitude of the crisis:
Refugees flee their home and country because they face persecution; internally displaced people also flee their home, but stay within their own country. Both are displaced -- and there are more than ever before in history. And the problem is only getting worse. Currently one person becomes displaced every 2 seconds.
• There are 25.4 million refugees in the world.
• 40 million people are internally displaced.
• 3.1 million people are seeking asylum worldwide.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the end of 2017, 68.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. Every minute 30 more people become refugees and today one in 110 people are displaced.
There is nothing normal about the life of a refugee. Imagine that home no longer exists. There is no where to return and there is nowhere to go. As a child, where does that leave you? The daily routine of school and the prospect of an education is no longer a given.
Over half of the world’s refugees are under the age of 18 and nearly all of them struggle to receive an education -- one of the only hopes of building a viable and brighter future.
Primary, Secondary and Higher Education:
• In 2017, 1.5 million refugee children were not attending primary school and 2 million were not attending secondary school.
• 61 percent of refugee children, and less than 50 percent of refugee children in low-income countries, attend primary school. Globally, 91 percent of children attend primary school.
• And the statistic are even worse for adolescents. 23 percent of refugee adolescents and 9 percent of refugee adolescents in low-income countries attend secondary school. Globally, 84 percent of adolescents attend secondary school.
The situation for girls is even more dire.
More than 17 million girls are displaced as a result of the global refugee crisis.
For every 10 refugee boys in primary school, there are fewer than 8 refugee girls.
For every 10 refugee boys in secondary school, there are fewer than 7 refugee girls.
Why is education important for girls?
“Access to education is a fundamental human right. It is essential to the acquisition of knowledge and to “the full development of the human personality”, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states. More than that, education makes us more resilient and independent individuals. Yet for millions of women and girls among the world’s ever-growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality.” — UNHCR
For girls, education is often the only way out of their desperate reality. When a girl has access to an education she is less vulnerable and more empowered. The following facts from the UNHCR illustrate the powerful effect an education can have, not only on a girl’s individual life, but also on her family, country and the world as a whole.
Education reduces girls’ vulnerability to exploitation, sexual and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
If all refugee girls receive an education, their families and communities are more likely to improve their social and economic position.
If all girls completed primary school, child marriage would fall by 14 percent.
If all girls finished secondary school, child marriage would plummet by 64 percent.
An education offers protection and opportunity for hope.
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