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Barriers Women Face in Educational Institutions

Nada Almutawa
18/01/2016 12:00 AM

Barriers Women Face in Educational Institutions In Developing countries Nada Almutawa Center of Strategic Studies Kuwait University The world has changed; higher education became more important as a main component of national economic performance, and educational institutions are considered as pacemakers of social change( Silver, 2015).Although educational strategists and global reporters working for the UNESCO focused the role of education in enhancing women empowerment, but they also drew attention to the alarming reports by international organizations such as the United Nations that showed the barriers women face in developing countries are in higher education entry process and high rates of female dropouts in schools with an experience characterized by violence and abuse.(UNESCO UN.ORG). In developing Countries where culture remains an important factor towards social change, women face different types of barriers accessing educational institutions .In Pakistan, four in 10 Pakistani women over the age of 15 can read and write, compared to 70% of Pakistani men( as education in these countries is considered limited and restricted , women have paid the price. Other countries such as China and India in spite of the expansion in higher educational institutions, a small section of the youth attend post-secondary institutions and A smaller portion of it are women.(UN.ORG) .Widening participation of women and access to higher education is a vital part of future educational plans. Woodrow (1999) pointed out to the need for examining barriers women face and encounter while entering higher educational institutions, and uncovered the reasons behind women dropping out of educational institutions by highlighting barriers preventing them from entering schools and colleges. Although researchers agree that the barriers are either institutional or personal and psychological , they differ on how to overcome these barriers. Institutional barriers include difficulties women face financially where grants and family saving go to male students and through the process of entry and completion of education programs where institutions fail to accommodate working mothers or building a receptive environment towards women. Researchers such as Noorani,(1995) Bowl (2001)and Jamali,(2009) viewed that overcoming institutional barriers women faced will succeed by implementing reform plans towards educational institutions, by creating supportive networks and enhancing mentors, as well as encouraging an environment for institutional change and reform to enhance educational success of women reentering ,or entering educational institute On the other hand, another group of researchers viewed the need to overcome personal psychological and cultural barriers (Reay 2003). These barriers are time poverty and domestic responsibilities, which prevented them from entering or retuning to education. Women in the United Arab Emirates for example faced cultural barriers, families preferred to finance male students rather than female, and family responsibilities that Emirati women bare while studying, these were the main reasons behind school dropouts of higher education institutions, or not being able to get in (Gallant and Pounder 2009).(Reay 2003)therefore ,In spite of the undeniable progress made in improving gender parity in education, girls and women continue to be denied their rights throughout the education cycle, and still face disadvantage in terms of accessing and re-entry to schools and colleges. That is a result of unequal educational system in the developing countries, therefore in my opinion institutional reform is needed ,institutions need to consider women as essential segment of the campus population and encourage campus to be receptive toward women .supportive faculty attitude and forming supportive networks will help women overcome the barriers, these networks will also help overcome personal and psychological barriers women face, sharing their thoughts through social networks will help them solve their problems. Conclusion Main components of Social change and reform are institutional and personal changes. Because of the lack of the suitability of design of educational institutions in developing countries that leads to failure to accommodate women entering schools and higher education institutions. Since higher education institutions aredesigned to accommodate male student in some specialties ,as well as the requirement of entry. A reform plan is needed, and financial packages to help women enter educational institutions. And with the rising importance of networks, support networks will help women overcome these barriers on a personal level.