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Awareness Days

3 ways education helps your health

In Year 12, I sometimes felt that school was doing the opposite of assisting my health. Late nights finishing assignments, being pitted against my peers for a top score, and the constant stress of not knowing if I’d studied enough certainly took a toll.

Despite our complaints, young people like me still see the big picture, and we’re grateful for the knowledge, skills and job prospects an education can provide.

This Women’s Health Week, we are celebrating the ways that education benefits  long-term health outcomes. Women dominate roles in the workplace that require emotional labour, such as healthcare, social assistance, and education and training.

With much of their time invested in the wellbeing of others, it’s no surprise that women list ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’ as the two greatest reasons for not prioritising their own health.

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Despite the challenging relationship between women and healthcare, Women’s Health Week is the time to celebrate the health outcomes that are made possible through education.

Longer life expectancy

Earning more money through higher education isn’t what helps you live longer; education does. Higher literacy rates contribute to a longer lifespan more than money does, because receiving an education means that we’re also learning vital skills like self-control and better planning abilities.

Did you know that highly educated people are less likely to smoke (35% of non-high school graduate in the US smoked compared to 13% of college graduates), and are more likely to have a healthy diet and regular exercise regime?

Greater self-efficacy skills

Self-efficacy is a tricky term. It refers to how we perceive our ability to reach a goal; how well we can stick with a challenge, motivate ourselves and have confidence in our experiences. It is strongly correlated with health behaviours.

The higher the education, the more people are able to “understand their health needs, follow or read instructions, advocate for themselves and their families, and communicate effectively with health providers”. Without these practices, people face lower prevention care, higher rates of hospitalisation and higher mortality rates.

Greater maternal and child health outcomes

Around the world, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of 5  compared to a child born to an illiterate woman. Close to 60% of girls under 17 in Sub-Saharan Africa would not have children if they received secondary education, and there is a 30% decline in child mortality when girls access secondary education.

Oaktree’s Girl’s Education Initiative program in Cambodia provides scholarships for girls in secondary school to empower them both socially and economically to improve their lives - that means healthcare too!

Interested in the intersection between women, education and health? Check out our blog on World Water Day. Or join the movement to receive email updates and actions in the fight against poverty.