Girls in Yemen still less likely than boys to go to school

Girls' education

Girls in Yemen are still less likely to go to school than boys and are increasingly vulnerable to early marriage and maternal mortality.

The first research of its kind for 15 years in the country – where half of the 23million population are under 18 – has revealed that girls are disadvantaged in many ways.

A report by the United Nations children's agency UNICEF and the Yemeni government showed:

  • Many girls are forced into early marriages
  • Fewer girls than boys are enrolled in school
  • More girls than boys drop out of school
  • Very few women go on to become teachers, health staff, court officials or police officers
  • One in three maternal deaths are of adolescent females
  • The lack of female medical staff in most health facilities, reduces the access the services women, especially for adolescent girls

Dr Mohammed Alsadi, Yemen’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, said: “The findings of this research are a wakeup call to the dire situation of children in Yemen and this must inform and frame programme development and implementation by all players for the wellbeing of children.”

The report said 21% of children aged six to 14 – about 1.1million children – are out of school, 69% of them girls. Just 29% of teachers are female and 36% of students entering first grade will not reach the sixth grade.

The UN team in Yemen verified cases of girls as young as 13 being forced into marriage and one example of two girls offered as “gifts” by their brothers who had been allowed to join armed groups. It says the majority of girls forced into marriage soon become pregnant.

Recruitment of children by armed groups, including the government, is continuing says the report. It found 69 verified cases of boys between the ages of 10 and 17 recruited to fight in armed conflict last year.

The report said one bright spot was a gain in gender parity in primary education, with eight girls enrolled for every 10 boys. But it cautions that the rate of boys dropping out of school is also increasing “and thus gender parity rates in enrollment may not reflect actual gains for girls' education”.

Julien Harneis, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, said: “Though there has been some progress in legislation and policy development in Yemen, this has not yet translated into the fulfilment of the rights of children, especially girls.

“What is needed is country-wide community dialogue and empowerment in addressing social norms and values detrimental to girls’ rights to ensure a sustainable response in addressing harmful traditional practices.”

You can read the full report – Situation Analysis of Children in Yemen 2014. And you can read more about Yemen and the educational challenges it faces.

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