Caz Forum speaker: Educating girls creates lasting change

At the 10th Cazenovia Forum lecture Friday, Catherine Bertini said that educating girls will ultimately lead to positive changes in the world.

"I've found absolutely nothing more important than educating girls," said Catherine Bertini, professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University at the 10th Cazenovia Forum lecture on Friday.

Bertini is a recipient of the 2003 World Food Prize and an expert in international humanitarian relief, nutrition policies and agricultural development.

"If I were king of the world, every girl would be in school," Bertini began.

Drawing from her international experience, Bertini said that women who are educated are more likely to have good reproductive health, better nutrition, increased productivity in agriculture and are far likelier to make more money than those women who are not educated.

Educated women are also less likely to contract HIV or AIDS than those who are not educated, she said. Of all people living with HIV and AIDS, two out of every three are female. The more women know about these diseases, the more successful they will be in preventing exposure and contraction.

Bertini explained that things like culture, location of schools, gender discrimination, and low quality of available education have all played a part in why more girls are not being educated around the world.

"Sometimes girls are not valued for their intelligence," Bertini said -- yet another reason why educating women has not been an international priority.

Bertini explained how important literacy is to women around the world. If a woman is not able to read medicine labels, clinic signs, or any instructions for a specific task at hand, they will not be capable of receiving needed medical treatment or the skills needed to finish a work task successfully.

Simply aiding women in receiving the tools to be able to read and write can effectively lower the mortality rates for themselves and their children in addition to increasing their work productivity, she said.

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