Electricity Supply, and Access to Water and Improved Sanitation as Determinants of Gender-Based Inequality in Educational Attainment in Africa

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Electricity, Gender-based educational inequalities, Gender parity in education, Water/sanitation in Africa

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The central hypothesis of this study is that gender-based inequality in education in Africa depends to a significant degree on electricity supply, and access to water and improved sanitation. Gender-based educational inequality is operationalized in terms of the proportion of females to males within any given group of educated people. Three groups, people with basic literacy skills, people with primary education, and people with a secondary education, are considered. Logarithmically-transformed multiple regression analyses, with R2 values ranging from .26 to .55, confirmed the central hypothesis in all but one instance. The instance concerns the hypothesized positive link between access to improved sanitation and females with a secondary education. An analysis of the data revealed this relationship as negative. This paradoxical revelation is explained as follows. Recent positive trends in African economies have occasioned improvements in sanitation that are unmatched by a corresponding increase in female secondary education. The confirmed positive link between access to basic services and female education is easy to explain. The availability of basic services facilitates execution of domestic chores hence, free up time for girls and women to pursue educational opportunities. The article’s significance resides in its empirical validation of the following widely-held but hardly interrogated view. The progress of women in Africa is significantly retarded by the fact that they are overburdened by domestic chores.

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Social Indicators Research, v. 135, issue 2, p. 533-548