Almost two decades ago world leaders decided to invest in girls’ education. The results were amazing (if unsurprising): more families put their children – daughters and sons – into primary school. Enrollment surged as more children than ever before began to attend school.
Yet, the number of out-of-school children is slowly creeping up. And, worryingly, while schooling for girls and boys is a crucial part of development goals, girls remain at a disadvantage, often in not-so-obvious ways.
Globally, girls of primary school age remain out of school in higher numbers with 32 million out of school, compared to 28 million boys.
More disconcerting, though, is the fact that, for girls, the likelihood of ever returning to school once they drop out is significantly lower than it is for boys. In fact, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics:
“15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys.”
The graph below shows that, in Africa in particular, girls continue to get less school, overall, than boys.
This has long-term consequences. We know without a doubt that while it is important to educate all children – girls and boys – putting a girl in the classroom and giving her a quality education leads to better, more sustainable and lasting results. It’s just a fact.
Education – especially girls’ education – is crucial for development.
Here are five of the most important reasons why girls’ education is the best way to achieve lasting change:
Girls’ Education …
1. Lowers poverty. Girls and women can earn up to 20% more for each additional year of education. This powerful income-generating potential can help to lift women (and their families) out of poverty. A woman tends to reinvest her earnings into her family and her children – so everyone benefits when a girl is educated.
2. Improves health. Educated women tend to make better decisions regarding health and nutrition, leading to better health outcomes overall for themselves and their families. An educated mother is more likely to have her children vaccinated, her children are less likely to suffer from malnutrition and stunting and infants are more likely to survive beyond their fifth birthday.
3. Increases gender equality. When educated, a woman’s higher earning power can elevate her standing within her family and community, which can give her more of a say in important decisions. It also gives her more confidence to stand up for herself and to do what is best for herself and for her children.
4. Lowers rates of child marriage. While child marriage is a complicated, multifaceted issue, keeping girls in school longer reduces the chances that she will marry as a child. In fact, each year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of child marriage by 5 percentage points or more.
5. Creates a positive cycle. An educated mother is more likely to put her own children into school – girls and boys – thus creating a positive cycle for change and hope for the future.
Your support for the 60 million girls Foundation can help get us there.