Educating girls reduces poverty, improves women’s and children’s health, drives economic growth, and engenders equality in leadership and advocacy. Education thus protects rights and promotes stability. Unfortunately, according to the UN, two-thirds of the 750 million illiterate adults worldwide are women. In Canada, marginalized groups are less likely to complete school.
Statistics Canada indicates that Indigenous women are disproportionately represented: 16% (3 times the number of all young Canadian women) do not obtain a high school diploma. This figure increases for pregnant Indigenous teens. For these young women, however, pregnancy and parenting do not preclude attending and completing school. Rather, poverty and other determinants – including the legacy of intergenerational trauma – trap these teens and their children in a cycle of economic and social hardship.
This cycle can be broken by attending alternative schools that offer support and resources such as:
● tailored academic plans
● guidance from Elders and/or counsellors for parenting
● cultural connections
● post-school planning
● health care
● financial and legal assistance; and housing assistance
By supporting the education of these young women, Indigenous families and communities, and Canadian society overall, stand to reap profound and long-term returns.