Girls' Education as a Key to Fighting Climate Change

By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown describes itself as “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” The Project brought together a group of top researchers from around the world to identify, research, and model “the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change.” The resulting plan provides “a path forward that can roll back global warming within thirty years.” The solutions to reversing climate change, the website says, “are in place and in action.” The purpose of the Project is “to accelerate the knowledge and growth of what is possible.”

Somewhat surprisingly, in the Project’s ranking of solutions to climate change, in the sixth place is educating girls. This item ranked higher than several of the more familiar solutions often proposed by the experts. It ranks higher than solar farms and rooftop solar (nos. 8 and 10, respectively), regenerative agriculture (no. 11), nuclear power (no. 20), electric vehicles (no. 26), LED lighting (no. 33), and mass transport (no. 37).

In describing the impact of girls’ education in reversing climate change, Project Drawdown says:

Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health…. Education also shores up resilience and equips girls and women to face the impacts of climate change. They can be more effective stewards of food, soil, trees, and water, even as nature’s cycles change. They have greater capacity to cope with shocks from natural disasters and extreme weather events.

Despite these benefits, there are still formidable barriers—economic, cultural and social—preventing some 62 million girls around the world from realizing their right to education. The Drawdown website suggests measures that need to be adopted to change all this: making school affordable; helping girls overcome health barriers; reducing the time and distance to get to school; and making schools more friendly toward girl students

Almost from its inception, BGR recognized the relevance of educating girls to our mission of combating global hunger and malnutrition. But the discovery of the link between girls’ education and climate change is new to us and reinforces our commitment to this major BGR program policy.

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Our current projects that support the education of girls include the following:

  • School Lunches for Marma Girls in Bangladesh: providing healthy food at least once a day for the 121 indigenous girls of Marma ethnicity now studying at Visakha Girls’ School, thereby helping the girls maintain good health so they don’t miss classes and can sustain their concentration (partner: Jamyang Foundation).

  • Food Scholarships for Girls to Stay in School: the GATE (Girls Access To Education) program in Cambodia, which provides educational scholarships to girls pursuing primary and secondary education, and its sequel, CATALYST, which supports girls who have graduated high school and are pursuing higher education at universities and vocational training institutes (partner: Lotus Outreach).

  • A Girls’ Home and Women’s Social Service Center in India: sponsoring the education and training of 30 teenage girls in danger of child marriage or unable to finish high school and university due to poverty; they are being instructed in nursing, social work, and law as well as in job training so they can become agents of change and help others when they return to their villages (partner: Bodhicitta Foundation).

  • Educating Girls in Nicaragua: Sponsoring the education of 112 girls, including six who are attending university, covering tuition and/or registration fees; and the government-mandated school uniform. Additionally, each girl receives bi-annual parasite medicine treatment and a free physical to ensure that they are healthy (partner: North Country Mission of Hope).

  • Technical education for girls in Sri Lanka: Providing access to skills development for approximately 60 girls selected from low-income families to equip them with employable vocational skills in computer technology (partner: CENWOR).

 Other projects supported by BGR in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Haiti, and Vietnam educate both boys and girls together–but all include a significant percentage of girl students. While the endeavor to prevent dangerous elevation in carbon emissions will require multiple strategies, as well as strong national determination expressed in effective governmental policies, it is heartening to see the education of girls occupying such a high position among those recommended by Project Drawdown.

 

 

Our Projects

BGR projects are designed to provide direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition, to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture, to support the education of girls and women, and to give women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families. This is a selection of our newest projects. To see all our projects, please click here.


Bangladesh NEW

VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR MARRIED ADOLESCENT GIRLS
Help fund vocational training for 200 married adolescent girls so they can pursue alternative opportunities and shape their own futures. »


Brazil  NEW

SUPPORTING TRADITIONAL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES AMONG GUARANI WOMEN
Support women from the indigenous Guarani Mbya community in promoting and applying traditional agricultural practices in five villages in São Paulo. »


Cambodia NEW

MONITORING THE WELFARE OF PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN PRISON
Provide food and hygiene materials for women and infants living in 18 Cambodian prisons, plagued by squalid conditions. »


Cameroon   NEW

EDUCATION OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN - COMPUTER LITERACY
Provide 120 children in need with school furniture, literacy materials, and computers. » »


Haiti

FOOD PROGRAM FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN
Provide two meals a day, five days a week, to approximately 100 children and 40 adults. » 


India   NEW

EDUCATION AND FOOD AID FOR CHILDREN IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Help in providing three healthy meals a day, seven days a week, to 240 students. » 


Malawi and Kenya

TRAINING FARMERS IN CLIMATE RESISTANT AGRICULTURE METHODS
Training in biointensive climate-resilient farming to increase food production for 450 farmers, of whom 300 are women. » 


Peru   NEW

HELPING GIRLS IMPROVE THEIR NUTRITION, WELL-BEING, AND SCHOOLING
Improve the physical and emotional well-being of 30 young women by funding school supplies and providing workshops on the importance of education, hygiene, and a healthy diet. »


Sri Lanka  NEW

LIVELIHOOD TRAINING FOR DISABLED PEOPLE
Provide vocational training and work opportunities for 60 disabled people in the Anuradhabura district. » 



Sudan

INCREASING HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY IN SOUTH DARFUR
Provide agricultural training and supplies to an estimated 3,000 individuals, increasing food production by 30 percent. »

 

Uganda NEW

PEACE SCHOOL
Provide assistance to 12 students to attend school. »

U.S. Easton, Pennsylvania

EASTON URBAN FARM
Provide 6,000 pounds of locally grown produce to 800 low-income residents, 600 of them women. Build community through programs including free monthly workshops on urban farming topics. »