Poverty, Women and Education

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Among children not attending school in the developing world, there are twice as many girls as boys, and among illiterate adults there are twice as many women as men. However, studies strongly suggest that when women have the opportunity to gain an education a wide variety of positive things begin to happen.

These issues will be addressed by Sr Lynne Baron FCJ on 9 September, when she delivers the second lecture in the Centre for Social and Environmental Justice 2014 Lecture series in Glasgow. In the series entitled Poverty in a World of Plenty, Sr Lynne will address Poverty and Women: The Potential Impact of Education.

UNICEF describes the education of woman as ‘a lifeline to development’, saying it can lead to a better standard of living, better family health and hygiene and improved prospects for children. Offering girls education, it concludes, is a sure way of giving them much greater power because it enables them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. “Equality between men and women is more than a matter of social justice - it's a fundamental human right,” says a report by the United Nations Development Programme. “But gender equality also makes good economic sense. When women have equal access to education, and go on to participate fully in business and economic decision-making, they are a key driving force against poverty.”


“For those women amongst us who have had the chance of education it can be all too easy to forget that for millions of women around the world the choices and freedom that we may take for granted are but a distant dream,” says Lynn McWilliams who is coordinating the lectures at St Aloysius College, Glasgow. “A well respected newspaper of the 1870s suggested that if a woman had an interest in the sciences (and by implication intellectual achievement) she should hide it as if it were some deformity. We may regard such antiquated thoughts with bemused dismissal in the modern world as being of a bygone era. However, for many women such discrimination with respect to even basic education continues to be a debilitating and daily reality.”Lynne Barron fcj

The lecture by Sr Lynne Baron (pictured) will take a broad look at the global position of women with regards to poverty, highlighting some of the societal factors which contribute to this and going on to consider the potential impact of education in alleviating poverty. She can talk about the education of women in the developing world from first-hand experience, having been involved with an education project on the Payatas rubbish dump in Manila, Philippines that was linked with a barrio of Salta, Argentina. She spent a year teaching in Romania, where she worked with student nurses and with refugee families fleeing violence in Afghanistan.

Sr Lynne is a member of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, an Ignatian congregation founded in France in 1820 by the Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houet.  She is a physicist who has worked in secondary education for the past 20 years. For ten years she has been pastoral Head of Year 11 in an FCJ school in inner city Liverpool and is currently vocations director for the FCJ Province and chaplain to London Goldsmiths and London Southbank Universities. 

The lecture on Tuesday, 9 September will start at 7pm in the school hall of St Aloysius College, 45 Hill Street, Glasgow G3 6RJ.

Main photo: Pupils from Makumbi Mission School, Zimbabwe, that is supported by Jesuit Missions