There are a lot of feminist MPs in Parliament who see it as their primary duty to represent women and take little if any interest in the 49% of their constituency who happen to be male. Among the more eccentric of these is Layla Moran who is MP for Oxford West. Like so many feminists she is a ‘posho’ who was educated at private schools; in Layla’s case in Brussels and at Rodean (for any foreign readers Rodean is Britain’s most elite private girls school).
Among Layla’s more interesting credentials is that she has been cautioned by the police for assaulting her (male) partner. Predictably this gendered violence was not condemned by other politicians. She was described as ‘brave’ and was even praised for her courage by Baroness Meral Hussain-Ece and a fellow Lib-dem. Councillor Nick Da Costa even suggested she was ‘an inspiration’. Such are the double standards in politics when it comes to violence perpetrated by female MPs. For a full account of this episode see here and of her toxic supporters see here.
Layla has just published an article in The Independent, Boris Johnson has reneged on his promise to ensure all girls get an education that you can find by clicking the screenshot below.
This kind of article, by the sin of omission, promulgates the idea that all is well with the education of boys, and to solve problems in developing countries all you have to do is educate girls. For a more detailed account of this topic I recommend William Collins’ blog Illustrated Empathy Gap – the post, World Education by Sex provides a masterful summary of the issue.
If you look at a range of countries a trend emerges. In less developed countries children, in general, receive less education. With growing economic prosperity both sexes spend more years in education. Superimposed upon this trend, in developing countries boys receive more education (tough the difference is small) and in developed countries girls receive more education. See the figure below taken from William Collins’ blog.
It is important not to confuse correlation with causation. Whether a greater number of years in education results in economic growth or whether richer counties are able to spend more on education is hard to say but the relationship is likely to be complex. Similarly, there is no evidence that selectively concentrating on the education of girls in developing countries will result in economic growth. Indeed, the UK’s greatest period of economic growth occurred when University education was reserved almost exclusively for men. So gender educational parity, though a human right, is not a prerequisite for economic growth.
You will also see from the figure above that there are some countries where both sexes receive too little education but the boys receive even less. You wouldn’t know this from the narrative in the media and selectively concentrating on the education of girls would further increase the disparity in those countries.
It is not even clear from the article above that the foreign aid cuts will selectively impact the education of girls. That, it seems, doesn’t matter to Layla Moran. A person with a track record of gendered violence might not be the best person to ask about fair treatment of boys and girls.
Why not give a simple unifying message? A good education is a human right for all children, boys or girls. There are too many countries that do not educate their children properly, so we should do something about that but let’s not export our culture war, with its common enemy identity politics, to counties that have enough problems of their own.