From Cairo to Beijing, offering quality and universal education to young girls promotes progress for society as a whole. Carla Koppell of the United States Agency for International Development, better known as USAID, even called female education a “silver bullet” for empowerment and progress. To better understand the far-reaching effects of a few books and a classroom, here are the top 10 reasons why female education is important.
- Increased Literacy: Of the 163 million illiterate youth across the globe, nearly 63 percent are female. Offering all children education will prop up literacy rates, pushing forward development in struggling regions.
- Human Trafficking: Women are most vulnerable to trafficking when they are undereducated and poor, according to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking. Through providing young girls with opportunities and fundamental skills, this billion-dollar industry can be significantly undermined.
- Political Representation: Across the globe, women are underrepresented as voters and restricted from political involvement. The United Nations Women’s programmes on leadership and participation suggests that civic education, training and all around empowerment will ease this gap.
- Thriving Babies: According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, children of educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of five. Foreign aid for schoolhouses and curriculum development could greatly benefit the East African country of Burundi, where nearly 16,000 children die per year.
- Safe Sex: A girl who completes primary school is three times less likely to contract HIV. With these statistics in mind, The World Bank calls education a “window of hope” in preventing the spread of AIDS among today’s children.
- Later Marriage: As suggested by the United Nations Population Fund, in underdeveloped countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching the age of 18. In a region where a girl receives seven or more years of education, the wedding date is delayed by four years.
- Smaller Families: Increased participation in school reduces fertility rates over time. In Mali, women with secondary education or higher have an average of three children. Counterparts with no education have an average of seven children.
- Income Potential: Education also empowers a woman’s wallet through boosting her earning capabilities. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, a single year of primary education has shown to increase a girl’s wages later in life by 20 percent.
- Thriving GDP: Gross domestic product also soars when both girls and boys are being offered educational opportunities. When 10 percent more women attend school, GDP increases by three percent on average.
- Poverty Reduction: When women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they go on to participate in business and economic activity. Increased earning power and income combat against current and future poverty through feeding, clothing and providing for entire families.
The sustainability and progress of all regions depend on the success of women across the globe. As President Obama said while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, “The future must not belong to those who bully women. It must be shaped by girls who go to school and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.”
– Lauren Stepp