Data analytics is being used to detect subtle gender biases in underdeveloped countries to direct funding where it is needed most.

In many under-developed regions when natural disasters often occur, young girls are often more at risk of educational disruption than their male counterparts.

When access to water is scarce, girls are most often responsible for traveling long distances to collect water and perform other errands, keeping them away from the classroom. When temperatures rise and income-producing agriculture is lost, girls in such areas most often leave their schooling behind because families can no longer afford to pay educational fees. Yet the ripple effects of such gender biases are not as evident to policy makers as they should be.

Now, with the help of data analytics to predict climate challenges, the education of such underprivileged girls can be made more sustainable. The data analysis identifies countries where girls are most at risk of experiencing educational interruptions, and thereby predicts lowering of completion rates of girls’ primary and secondary education due to climate change. In turn, more policy help can be disbursed where needed.

Educational sustainability guided by data

To help shed a light on this issue during Climate Month and this year’s education-themed World Creativity and Innovation Week, data analytics specialist SAS built the Girls’ Education and Climate Challenges Index with Malala Fund, a girls’ education nonprofit co-founded by Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.  

The Climate Challenges Index predicts, by, year, which countries are at most risk of girls’ education disruption. The index considers educational information like grade-level completion rates and environmental factors, including likelihood of flooding, tsunamis and earthquakes in each particular country. Other data factored-in comprise breakdowns by education level (primary, lower secondary and upper secondary) as well as by specific country, focusing on low and lower middle-income countries. 

With this information, the Malala nonprofit fund can then engage in dialogue with the wider development sector about where to target technical and financial support both for climate adaptation and improve the education outcomes of girls susceptible to climate events.

Based on the combined indices, the region most affected is sub-Saharan Africa, although this region contributes the least to climate change. Countries in other regions, including the Philippines, Mongolia and Kiribati, are also strongly affected.

According to a Research Officer with the Malala Fund: “Our new report confirms that girls’ education is one of the most powerful strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change. But as this data project with SAS shows, climate-related events are keeping millions of girls from learning. To create a greener, fairer future for us all, we need leaders to take urgent climate action and support girls’ education.”

Fueling positive preemptive change

Unless progress is made, Malala Fund estimates that in 2021, climate-related events will prevent at least four million girls in low- and lower-middle-income countries from completing their education. Should current trends continue, by 2025 climate change will have played a part in preventing at least 12.5 million girls from completing their education each year.

The non-profit plans to use continued data insights to encourage leaders at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference and beyond to take action and bring education into the global climate change discussion.

Said Susan Ellis, Brand Director, SAS: “Industries are also attempting to calculate the risks associated with climate change. Climate change will affect the most vulnerable populations first. We want to do everything we can to support organizations like Malala Fund to ensure that the education of girls remains a priority.”