A promising and efficient solution to solving global poverty involves educating women, and the nonprofit humanitarian organization CARE aims to do just that. Since its development in 1945, CARE has provided humanitarian and anti-poverty aid to over 97 million people around the globe.

CARE’s programs in the developing world address empowerment and education for women on topics such as economic development, gender equality and health. Education in such areas helps alleviate global poverty because it attacks the issue’s foundation. CARE seeks to expose and positively change the political, social and economic norms that sustain extreme poverty.

Empowering women is not only a moral obligation, but an economic boon. Countries that invest in education for girls and women tend historically to have lower poverty rates. The World Bank reports that every extra year of secondary schooling for girls can increase their future wages by up to 20 percent.

Educating women and girls contributes to the alleviation of poverty in a variety of ways. First, educated women are more likely to marry later and have fewer and healthier children. They can subsequently focus more attention and expenditures on each child. Second, they are aware of their rights and possess the self-confidence to claim them. Third, they are better able to maintain a stable position in the workforce. Lastly, educated women are more likely than men to allocate resources to their children and families.

Yet despite its benefits, education for women is often subpar. CARE reports: “In more than 20 developing nations, illiteracy rates among women exceed 70 percent.” This constitutes a vicious cycle. A lack of education prevents women from rising out of poverty, but poverty also prevents a large percentage of girls and women from attaining secondary education.

Globally, this gender disparity in education remains a firmly established problem. It is neither morally nor economically sound to undermine half of the world’s workforce. In fact, promoting gender equality in an effort to fight global poverty is one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Therefore, although CARE focuses primarily on girls and women, the organization also attempts to dismantle the social norms of inequity throughout communities. Through education and anti-poverty projects, women gain self-respect and self-reliance. CARE reports that when men witness such transformations in their wives or daughters, they tend to reevaluate their negative perceptions of women.

CARE demonstrates that women’s empowerment is key in the fight against extreme global poverty. When women earn their own income, they lay the foundations for healthier and more educated future generations.

Due to the efforts and achievements of organizations like CARE, foreign aid is increasingly being targeted at women and girls. There is growing recognition that education for women may be one of the most effective ways to combat global poverty.

— Mari LeGagnoux

Sources: CARE, United Nations, UNFPA, World Bank
Photo: Allianz