In spite of rapid expansion in the educational sector over the years, a number of factors still militate against female access to education. Some of these factors includes -cultural and factors such as early marriage, circumcision, forced marriage and child betrothal; and also economic factors such as cost of procuring education, the location of school far away from home in some places for which most of the time is spent on domestic chores which reduces time available for study, and opportunity cost of formal education to parents in terms of forgone earnings by children. It was observed that large female populations live in the rural areas and it is in these rural communities that female illiteracy predominates (UNESCO, 2006). Female children in rural households help with housework. These includes fetching of fuel, water, looking after younger siblings and helping in home-based income generating activities. They also cultivate the land and market the products. Traditional beliefs and cultural practices place the bulk of burden on girls.
Interference with the demands of rural life is unavoidable if the girl-child is to have equal access to education. The social expectations of the girl in the family and her role in taking care of the home (domestic chores) and income generation hamper her educational development and infringes on her rights. There is correlation between education and knowledge, attitude, behaviours, and practices in issues pertaining to health especially reproductive health of adolescent girls. Education lies at the heart of reducing gender inequality and empowering women to overcome factors that make them vulnerable to harmful cultural practices. Education is in itself a liberating tool for girl-child, and this will have effect on her, with regards to HIV/AIDS, safe-motherhood, access to quality healthcare, participation in decision making process and policies.
Uneducated women are likely to remain in abusive marriages and unable to challenge harmful cultural such as female genital cutting, wife inheritance and early marriages.
The 2008 UNAIDS Report on the Global Aids Pandemic says girls who complete primary education are more likely to use condoms, while girls who finish secondary education are between four and seven times more likely to use condoms and are less likely to be infected with HIV. But this can only happen if girls and women have access to education. Undeniably, gender equality and empowerment can be achieved if women enjoy their sexual reproductive rights. Reproductive Health experts have managed to show a direct relationship between enjoyment of reproductive health such as low fertility rate, delayed child bearing, contraceptive and attainment of higher education.
If girls are well educated they will be able to challenge discriminatory gender beliefs and sexual violence that make many of them vulnerable to HIV infection and other cultural practices that causes complications during pregnancy due to early child marriage.
Educating women and girls does not only afford this benefit, it also extends the gains to their children. Women and girls who are less empowered and who lack access to sufficient food are 70% less likely to have control over their sexual activities and are more likely to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse. They are also 50% percent more likely to engage in survival sex.
Education is in itself a liberating tool for the Girl –child and this will have effect on her attitudes and perception on issues such as sex, HIV/AIDS, Safe-motherhood, access to healthcare as well as participation in decision making process and policies.