Education as a Path to Independence and Empowerment

Rebellion is, according to the Cambridge dictionary, “the act of opposing the ideas of people in authority and planning to change the system, often using force.” Marginalized people have shown time and time again that to obtain equal rights and to be seen as equals we must rebel against assumptions about what we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to be. This includes actively eradicating stereotypes about women and girls.

Gender-based stereotypes include beliefs such as:

  • women are inferior to men;
  • women should be reliant on men; and
  • women are not as smart as men.

These dangerous stereotypes help keep harmful practices like female genital mutilation, child marriage, sex trafficking, and sexual assault alive, especially in developing countries.

Throughout history, we have found multiple ways to protest and creatively disrupt the system—and education is one of them. We also must use our education to build careers that will sustain us as independent human beings. This is a nonviolent form of protest that creatively disrupts the system. According to Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

Look at how it has been done, and emulate

In the United States, women are collectively rebelling against the system because women are outnumbering men in college graduation rates by 50.7%, according to PEW research. Before women made up the majority of college-goers, women were often expected to be housewives, stay-at-home moms, and homemakers. But a lot of women were dissatisfied with being limited to these roles and needed more purpose and meaning in their lives, as Betty Freidan argued in her influential book, the Feminine Mystique. In the second half of the 20th century, women realized they had every right to want more than a domestic life—and that it was okay to pursue an education and a career.

Education is a gateway to independence

Education is rebellious because it acts as a gateway to independence for women. When women are given the chance to finish high school and obtain a higher education it has the capacity to open doors. It’s a way to gain employment. It’s a way out of poverty.

We must continue to push the narrative that education and work is a positive thing not only for individuals but for communities and countries as well. We must help girls and women in countries where women are not seen as equals. We must help them to stand up and be rebellious.

Help us stand up for women’s right to education and empowerment by taking action on!

Candice Murdock is a college graduate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She majored in media studies and communications. She also obtained a certificate in gender studies. She enjoys writing, watching Netflix, and being outdoors.

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