There is a lot of talk about climate change, with increasing global temperatures, the destruction of ecosystems, and increasing volumes of erratic weather. However, beyond the obvious effects of the climate crisis there are less evident but far-reaching ripple effects. One such effect is the access to education, especially to young female students.
When access to water is scarce, girls are most often responsible for travelling long distances to collect water, keeping them out of the classroom. When temperature rises and income-producing agriculture is lost, girls most often leave their schooling behind to save family costs.
To shine a light on this issue during Climate Month and this year's education-themed World Creativity and Innovation Week, global analytics software company SAS built the Girls’ Education and Climate Challenges Index with Malala Fund.
Malala Fund is a girls' education non-profit that was co-founded by Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education advocate who defied the Taliban. A death threat was issued against her and she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 walking home from school. Fortunately, Malala survived and continued her work and advocacy. In 2013 she spoke at the United Nations and released a book, “I am Malala.” In 2014 at the age of 17 - she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person to receive this accolade. The Malala Fund works for a world where all girls can learn, go to school, and reach their potential.
It's a remarkable organisation with a remarkable founder, working to uplift the lives and potential of millions upon millions of young ladies globally.
The analysis performed by SAS identified countries where girls are most at risk of experiencing educational interruptions and predicts lowering of completion rates of girls’ primary and secondary education due to climate change.
The index predicts by year which countries are most at risk of such disruption based on grade-level completion rates and environmental factors, including the likelihood of flooding, tsunamis, and earthquakes. The data is broken down by education level.
Malala Fund will use the index to inform where technical and financial support should be targeted, and to encourage leaders at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and beyond, to take action and bring education into the wider ongoing global climate change discussion.
According to the index, the region most affected is sub-Saharan Africa. The Philippines, Mongolia and Kiribati, are also strongly affected.
Unless progress is made, Malala Fund’s report estimates that in 2021 at least four million girls in low- and lower-middle-income countries will be prevented from completing their education due to climate-related events.
Without action, this will expand to 12.5 million girls by 2025 unable to complete their education.
“We continue to witness the impact of climate change on our environment, whether in the form of drought, shifting ecosystems, the severity of storms or the devastation caused by forest fires that are double or triple in size of those we’ve experienced in the past,” said Susan Ellis, Brand Director at SAS. “Industries are also attempting to calculate the risks associated with climate change. Climate change will affect the most vulnerable populations first. We want to do everything we can to support organisations like Malala Fund to ensure that the education of girls remains a priority.”
"Our new report confirms that girls’ education is one of the most powerful strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change," said Naomi Nyamweya, Research Officer at Malala Fund. "But as this data project with SAS shows, climate-related events are keeping millions of girls from learning. To create a greener, fairer future for us all, we need leaders to take urgent climate action and support girls' education."