Clinical professor Dr. Valerie Hill-Jackson in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture partnered with MSC Freshmen Leadership International (FLI) to spotlight National Women’s Month by raising awareness for global education and gender inequality.
Dr. Hill-Jackson was a featured speaker at the final day of an event called “Learning is for Everyone” or “L.I.F.E.” on March 23rd in the Gates Ballroom at the MSC. Dr. Hill-Jackson spoke about the importance of educational equality and how students can make a difference.
“So many of us, because of our places of privilege, go through the world not realizing what’s going on around us when it comes to issues of equity – whether we’re talking about issues dealing with ethnicity or class or gender,” explained Dr. Hill-Jackson. “We just don’t know because we have this grand privilege of living in the best country in the world. That privilege does not give us an excuse to put our heads in the sand. We have to look up and look around and do the hard work of soul searching.”
Dr. Hill-Jackson focused on consciousness and helping the audience to be fully aware of what is going on in the world with regards to gender parity. She talked about the fact that there are 3 billion school-aged children in the world but nearly 100 million are not going to school and 66 million of them are girls.
“We have a great cadre of learners on this planet who are ready to take their turn to run the world. If they’re not going to school, they are not literate. If they are not literate, they can’t take over the reins. That’s highly problematic.” Another concern of Dr. Hill-Jackson’s is that gender parity among primary and secondary learners has only been achieved in only two-thirds of the countries around the world.
Dr. Hill-Jackson said it is important that we do not close our eyes to the fact that this issue is going on right in our backyard. “As this country grew, it realized it needed more educators so it hired only young, white, unmarried women at one-eighth the rate it paid male educators,” queried Dr. Hill-Jackson in an attempt to bring awareness to the imbalanced teaching demographics in the United States. “As of 2016, 90% of white women still teach in this country. The same is true for our country’s educational system and teacher pay. Dr. Hill-Jackson encouraged attendees to “think globally, and act locally” on gender parity issues.
After Dr. Hill-Jackson’s discussion on global education, the audience was shown the documentary “He Named Me Malala”, which told of the struggles women in Pakistan face when it comes to education. FLI is one of the first organizations in the United States to have access to show the documentary.
Dr. Hill-Jackson also spoke about Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who emerged as an advocate for children and women’s rights after speaking out for girls’ education. She was shot by a Taliban gunman but survived and never gave up her fight for equal education. Yousafzai is also the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Dr. Hill-Jackson held a question and answer session after the documentary and ended the event by reminding the audience to start thinking about the privileges we have when it comes to education in the United States. “As we think about what’s going on around the world, we not only have to think about access but we have to think about equity and outcomes as well.”