THE UNSEEN VICTIMS OF CLIMATE
  CHANGE – GIRLS AND THEIR FUTURES

THE UNSEEN VICTIMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE – GIRLS AND THEIR FUTURES

When we create more space for young girls in the classroom, the world moves closer to a brighter, fairer, more equitable society. Over the last five decades, remarkable gains have been made in education. Investments in educating girls specifically have strengthened economies, increased earnings, stabilized communities and improved overall health outcomes.

But what if all the gains we’ve made in educating girls are lost because of the increased strain on the planet? The connection between education and climate change may be surprising, but we can no longer view the two as separate issues.

Climate change is disproportionately affecting girls’ education globally and threatening the fragile gains made in recent decades to bring more girls into the classroom. For example:

“Girls are our best bet for a sustainable future, but girls and women are often hit the hardest by the climate crisis.”

- Naomi Nyamweya, Research Officer, Malala Fund


During severe droughts, girls are most often responsible for traveling long distances to collect water, keeping them away from the classroom.


When temperatures rise and income-producing agriculture is lost, girls most often leave their schooling behind because families can no longer afford to pay educational fees.


When extreme weather conditions happen, families often pull their daughters out of school and into marriage to offset the burden of scarce household resources.

“Girls are our best bet for a sustainable future, but girls and women are often hit the hardest by the climate crisis and too often are left out when leaders are developing solutions,” said Naomi Nyamweya, Research Officer at Malala Fund.

“Our partnership with SAS gets us one step closer to developing meaningful solutions that ensure girls have consistent access to education.”

- Naomi Nyamweya, Research Officer, Malala Fund

Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel laureate and the founder of Malala Fund.

Malala Fund, a global nonprofit organization working toward a world where every girl can learn and lead, wants leaders and policy experts around the world to recognize the impact climate change is having on girls’ education. With research backed by UNESCO’s UIS database, the INFORM Risk Index and Notre Dame, Malala Fund turned to SAS data scientists to help bring education into the climate change conversation.

Together, SAS and Malala Fund developed a Girls Education and Climate Challenges Index predictor. By combining both climate and education data sets, SAS was able to analyze climate risk across multiple indicators, covering everything from grade-level completion and assessment scores to flooding, tsunamis and earthquakes. The index identifies countries where girls are most at risk of experiencing educational interruptions and predicts the changes in completion rates of primary and secondary education due to climate change.

Climate-related events disproportionally impact the learning of girls.

Gender-equal education is a powerful tool in the climate change fight.

Malala Fund is working to build a brighter, fairer future for all.

WHICH COUNTRIES FACE THE GREATEST THREAT?

The Girls Education and Climate Challenges Index produced multiple ways to answer that question, ranking countries overall, by year, by region and by level of education completed.

The index found that sub-Saharan Africa – the region least responsible for the current climate crisis – faces the greatest challenges in terms of climate change vulnerability and the opportunity to achieve 12 years of education for all girls. In other regions, countries like the Philippines, Mongolia and Kiribati are also strongly affected.

“It’s the future predictions of girls’ education completion rates that inform us where we can begin to intercede on behalf of young girls to stop climate change from becoming an educational penalty.”

- Naomi Nyamweya, Research Officer, Malala Fund

When exploring the level of education completed, upper secondary education – or high school – affected girls most often. Over the next five years, the index predicts an 18% decrease in upper secondary education for girls in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, unless progress is made.

Unfortunately, the decline makes sense – older girls are more likely to carry adult household responsibilities compared to younger children. If the current trend continues, climate change will play a part in preventing at least 12.5 million girls from completing their education each year.

“It’s one thing to visualize data and see historical effects by country, but the visualizations alone won’t lead us to a solution. It’s the future predictions of girls’ education completion rates that inform us where we can begin to intercede on behalf of young girls to stop climate change from becoming an educational penalty,” said Ayana Littlejohn, Senior Analytical Consultant at SAS.

The index tells leaders where to start and where priorities should lie. It’s the visual trigger to get people moving – an advocacy tool that Malala Fund can use to spark real, lasting change. With the forecasting capabilities built into the SAS® technology, Malala Fund can quickly spot vulnerability and identify countries most likely to face simultaneous climate threats.

So what’s the next step for bringing education to center stage of the global climate change discussion?

photo of Malala in bright clothing with green flower pattern behind her

NEXT STEP FOR BRINGING EDUCATION TO CENTER STAGE OF THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DISCUSSION?

Malala Fund will soon use these insights from SAS as a call to action for governments in preparation for the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to urge them to take action and bring education into the global climate change discussion.

Climate change – at the policy level – may still be an ongoing debate for many, but climate scientists have settled on an agreement: We are facing a global climate crisis, and the crisis will come with irreversible damages if we don’t act now.

“No corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change. If governments want to meaningfully curb climate change, girls and women must have a hand in shaping their solutions.”

- Laura Denham, Head of Advocacy for Malala Fund

 

WANT TO DIVE INTO THE DATA?

The Climate Education Index predictor is now available as an extension to Malala Fund’s annual Global Education Challenges Index (GECI).

Explore educational challenges, climate vulnerability, and the barriers facing girls’ education now and in the future. Discover why investing in education may be the key to building a greener and fairer future.

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