Countess Constance Markievicz

If Countess Markievicz was denied an education like the 130 million girls worldwide today, then Ireland would not have the feminist champion in our history books.

Countess Constance Markievicz

Known as the “Rebel Countess”, Countess Constance Markievicz was as an Irish Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. A founder member of Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army, she took part in the Easter Rising in 1916 and is an iconic figure in Irish history.

While Markievicz received an education at home in Co Sligo because of her privilege, she fought many gender stereotypes by founding the Sligo Women’s Suffrage Society with her sister, she also became interested in political and social issues at a time women were not allowed to vote in elections or to become Members of Parliament.

Markievicz was the first woman elected to Westminster, the British House of Commons. However, in line with Sinn Féin abstentionist policy, she would not take her seat in the House of Commons.

Imagine a world where Markievicz did not receive an education and did not go down in history as a woman who fought gender norms.

If she could not have fulfilled her potential.

Currently, girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be excluded from primary school. That’s 15 million girls of primary school age who will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys.

131 million girls worldwide are out of school. This includes 32.4 million girls of primary school age, 29.8 million girls of lower secondary school age, and 68.7 million girls of upper secondary school age.

On 2nd February, in Dakar Senegal, nations, philanthropies and corporations will have the opportunity to pledge funds to the Global Partnership for Education, which supports education for the poorest and most marginalised.

Plan International Ireland is calling on the Irish government to increase investment in education.

Investing in education makes economic sense; one extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10% and each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.37%.