100 million more girls to be wed at early age unless action is taken: Aydın Doğan Foundation director
Esra Ülkar – ISTANBUL
The ratio of girls who were married before reaching the age of 18 has reached 40 percent in the world and unless any action is taken, 100 million more girls will be wed at an early age in the next 10 years, Aydın Doğan Foundation executive director Candan Fetvacı said on Feb. 19 during an opening speech of an education conference in Istanbul.
The conference has revealed the results of a study titled “Difference of success based on gender in Turkey” conducted with the cooperation of Aydın Doğan Foundation and the Education Initiative (ERG).
“The number of girls in the world deprived from the basic right of access to education is said to be millions. There are also girls who have enrolled in school but have been unable to complete their education … It is not possible to overlook these figures. It is out of this necessity the ‘Dad, Send me to School’ [BBOG] campaign was launched 15 years ago and that we, the Aydın Doğan Foundation, have emerged as its biggest supporter,” Fetvacı said.
The BBOG campaign, which was initiated by the Doğan Group in 2005 and undertaken by the Aydın Doğan Foundation in 2015, aims to create equal educational opportunities for young girls across Turkey. It has so far built 33 dormitories for girls, established schools in 12 villages and granted education scholarships to over 10,000 girls.
In previous years, one out of every 10 girls could not go to school in Turkey, according to Fetvacı. Now, gender equity in school enrollment levels in Turkey has almost been accomplished, thanks to the contribution of the BBOG campaign, she said.
“With this research, we have tried to provide insight regarding differences in academic performance between girls and boys [at schools]. The basic problem is there cannot be gender equality if gender inequality still prevails. To maintain sustainable growth and to take our societies to a better point in every way we can, we need everyone’s contribution, knowledge and experience. We can accomplish this only through gender equality,” said Fetvacı, touching upon the study’s results.
One of the ways inequality in academic success can be tackled is by breaking gender stereotypes, which hold girls back in school, according to Fetvacı. “We, as the Aydın Doğan Foundation, strive a lot to overcome prejudice against girls. We believe gender inequality can be tackled with the cooperation of states, the private sector and civil society, as well as other parties. Educators have the biggest task. Because educators have this responsibility, they are of crucial importance,” said the director.