(NC) International Women’s Day is rooted in the struggle for gender equality. Celebrated on March 8, this international event is affiliated with the United Nations, which began recognizing the day in 1970. Its rich history shows just how much women have accomplished — but the battle is not yet over.

Girls and women still experience inequality in many areas, especially when it comes to access to education. Over 30 million girls of secondary school age were out of school in 2013. That’s 30 million girls who did not have the chance to go to school past grade nine because of poverty and discrimination.

Education has the power to change lives and improve the livelihoods of entire communities. But when girls are denied access to schooling, their chance for a better life significantly decreases. Young women who do not finish secondary school are often forced into early marriage, teen pregnancy, sexual exploitation, and/or manual labour. But according to the United Nations, if all girls in sub-Saharan Africa and South/West Asia had a secondary school education, the rate of child marriage would fall by 64 per cent.

Although enrollment for primary school education has gone up in the past decade, the number of women enrolled in post-secondary is still low. Yet a college or university degree is needed more than ever to succeed in the job market. When a young woman is able to continue her education past secondary school, she is better equipped with the skills to find safe and sustainable employment, allowing her to choose her own path in life to lift herself and her family out of poverty.

This is why Beautiful World Canada, a Toronto-based charity, focuses on providing college and university scholarships to women in Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Women can graduate with a better chance of finding employment, helping them better themselves, their community and their country.

Find more information at www.beautifulworldcanada.org.