Percent of women who have completed at least ten years of education

Percent of women who have completed at least ten years of education

Percent of women who have completed at least ten years of education

The percent of women ages 20 to 30 who have completed at least ten years of education (or secondary or high school). For different countries, secondary education may vary from ten to twelve years.

This indicator is calculated as:

(Number of women ages 20 to 30 who completed at least ten years of schooling / Total number of women respondents ages 20 to 30) x 100

Data Requirement(s):

Survey information on the number of years of education completed by women ages 15 to 19. Data can be disaggregated by age group and urban/rural location.

Population-based surveys such as the Demographic Health Survey or Reproductive Health Survey.

Women’s attainment of a secondary school education can influence their access to employment and resources, their reproductive health and use of family planning, general well-being, as well as their status in the home, community, and society at large. More years of schooling has also been found to help girls and women negotiate conditions of sexual relationships, thereby reducing unplanned pregnancies and their vulnerability to STIs and HIV/AIDS. For example, young women who complete secondary school are almost four times more likely to use condoms than young women who do not (Ashburn et al., 2009). Further analysis of this indicator by age groups can provide some indication of a changing climate for female education. Specifically, one would expect women 25 to 29 to have completed more schooling than older age cohorts have, which is why women over 30 are not included in this indicator; over the course of 5 or 10 years, one would see little, if any, change in number of years of schooling completed among women 31 and older, which is why comparing trends over time is informative for younger age groups (i.e., women under age 30).

Worldwide, 774 million adults lack basic literacy skills and, of these, about 64 percent are women, a share virtually unchanged since the early 1990s (UNESCO, 2007). The gap between girls’ and boys’ enrollment in secondary schools is wider than in primary education and catch-up for girls remains a goal in secondary school enrollment for many countries (Center for Global Development, 2008). The importance of education for girls and women has been emphasized by a number of international conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and is directly related to two of the Millennium Development goals: #2. achieve universal primary education and #3. promote gender equality and empower women. MDG goal # 3 seeks to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education and improve ratios of females to males in tertiary education, as well (UNDP, 2007).

Determining the impact of women’s education on their empowerment and status and subsequent reproductive health and development outcomes is complicated by issues around defining and measuring the concepts of empowerment and status.  Yinger et al. (2002) laid out a framework with gender indicators based on four main aspects related to gender-sensitive programming: participation; equity and equality; empowerment; and human rights. In their framework for understanding and measuring empowerment, Alsop and Heinsohn (2005) define empowerment as enhancing an individual’s or group’s ability to make choices and transform these choices into desired actions and outcomes. Women’s education is integrally tied to women’s agency, their ability to deal with the opportunity structures (i.e., the formal and informal contexts in which they live), and their degrees of empowerment. For additional background on these frameworks and corresponding indicators, see Yinger et al., (2002) and Alsop and Heinsohn (2005).

The accuracy of women’s self-report for the number of years of education they have completed can affect this indicator. There may a tendency toward number heaping, where women who actually had eight or nine years of schooling will round up to ten. Also, having completed ten years of education is not an exact proxy for completing secondary education, particularly where national or district curricula require at least twelve years or in cases where women have repeated grades.

women’s status, empowerment

Gender Implications:

Girls’ and young women’s access to secondary education may be limited by gender barriers, even in settings where a high proportion of girls are completing primary school.  Families may not want to invest in secondary education for daughters, especially when resources are limited and sons’ educations are given priority. Additional cultural gender norms may restrict adolescent girls’ mobility and secondary schools for girls may be lacking, require long distance traveling, or those attending may be socially stigmatized or in outright danger because of challenging political and gender norms.

Center for Global Development, 2008, Girls Count: A Global investment & Action agenda, Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.

Alsop R. and Heinsohn N, Measuring Empowerment in Practice: Structuring Analysis and Framing Indicators, Washington, DC: World Bank.

Ashburn K, Oomman N, Wendt D, Rozenwieg S., 2009, Moving Beyond Gender as Usual, Washington DC: Center for Global Development.

Roudi-Fahimi F and Moghadam V, 2003, Empowering Women, Developing Society: Female Education in the Middle East and North Africa, Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.

U.N. Development Program, 2007, Tracking the Millennium Development Goals, MDG Monitor, New York: UNDP.

UNESCO, 2007, Education for All by 2015: Will we make it? EFA Global Monitoring Report (2008) Paris: UNESCO.

Yinger N, Peterson A, Avni M. Gay J, Firestone J, Hardee k, Murphy E, Herstad B, Johnson-Welch C., 2002, A Framework to Identify Gender Indicators for Reproductive Health and Nutrition Programming, Washington DC: Interagency Gender working Group.