Malala's Pakistan By The Numbers- by Nina Strochlic
On October 15, when a gunmen took aim at 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai on a schoolbus in Pakistan’s Swat valley, he unwittingly brought the world’s attention to the plight of women and girls striving for an education under constant Taliban threat. On Friday, during a speech to the United Nations, Malala reaffirmed her mission to pursue gender equality, saying she's just "one girl among many." Meanwhile, back in her native Pakistan, the fight goes on. A look at some of the telling facts and figures about girls' education in the region and what Malala is striving to change:
2: The ranking of Pakistan on the list of countries with the most out-of-school children, with around 5.4 million primary school age children lacking access to education.
7: how many times more that Pakistan invests in military spending than in primary schooling. This coming fiscal year, Pakistan has increased its defense budget by 15 percent, to $6.4 billion, while education spending has decreased from 2.6-to 2.3-percent of GNP over the past decade. Only seven other developing countries in the world spend less than Pakistan does on education.
50: percent of rural females who have never been to school. The disparity in Pakistan's education system reflects not just gender, but class lines. Along with this figure, the number of teens who make it to high school is twice as high in urban areas than in the rural regions.
33: percent of primary schools that cater to girls. In Pakistan, of the 154,000 primary schools, a mere 51,000 are girls' schools. And as the schools get further away from a girl's home, the less useful they become: female enrollment is shown to drop 20 percent with each half-kilometer increase in the distance to get to school.
75: percent of primary school-age girls not in school. There are many factors contributing to why girls are kept from an education, with poverty and fear of attack playing central roles in keeping them out of school. “Females in Pakistan face discrimination, exploitation and abuse at many levels, starting with girls who are prevented from exercising their basic rights to education either because of traditional family practices, economic necessity, or as a consequence of the destruction of schools by militants,” a joint report by the United Nations and Pakistani government found in December.
30: the number of students who enrolled in a remote all-girls school after Malala was shot. In a conservative community in northern Pakistan, Malala's shooting scared parents into keeping their daughters home. For a month the primary school stayed empty, but after advocacy by teachers and aid workers, parents reversed course and the Malala effect was sparked—enrollment jumped by an extra 30 girls.
75: percent attendance drop in a girls' school near the Afghan border after the Taliban bombed it in December. A pile of rubble was all that was left of the building in a volatile region, two months after Malala's attack. The teacher resumed classes in her back garden, but the fearful girls and their families have stayed away.
800: schools in Malala's region of northwestern Pakistan’s tribal belt that have been attacked by Taliban militants since 2009. The mountainous tribal area of Mohmand near the Afghan border has been hit 100 times alone.