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Five Reasons Educating Women Fights Poverty

Educating WomenGender parity in education around the globe has not yet been achieved but great strides are being made toward that goal.

Regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain challenges, as boys in these regions are still more than one-and-a-half times more likely to complete their secondary education than girls. Organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank keep track of statistics like these in their quest to provide education to girls and women in need.

Data from these types of organizations also illustrates the greater benefits of educating women. Here are five major reasons that educating women benefits everyone:

1. Educated women tend to have smaller, healthier families. Women who stay in school longer are likely to be older when they marry and when they have their first child. Education provides more access to information about family planning and educated women are more likely to have fewer children. Additionally, women learn about immunizations and general medical care for their children. They may also learn how to treat preventable diseases and learn hygiene practices to keep their children healthy.

2. Educated women are more likely to contribute to the economy. The more women participate in a country’s workforce, the healthier its GDP becomes — and every year of additional education increases a person’s capacity to be productive in the workforce. Families also increase their income when both parents contribute, which leads to more families rising out of poverty. UNESCO data shows that if girls enjoyed the same access to education that boys do, per capita income would increase by 23 percent over 40 years.

3. Education combats the problem of hunger. Women who receive more education are older and have more access to life-saving information by the time they begin having children. They are more likely to recognize the signs of malnutrition and to recognize proper nutrition that will prevent their children from becoming malnourished or stunted.

4. Educating women counters the threat of violence and terrorism. If lacking education, both women and men are more likely to be less tolerant of those who look different, who speak a different language or practice a different religion. Increasing tolerance in communities that were previously under-educated serves to spread that tolerance around the world and women are in a prime position to promote this in further generations as caretakers of their own children.

5. Educated women are more likely to have educated children. Once they have experienced the benefits of education for themselves, women are likely to want their children to have the same benefits. This perpetuates the trends of smaller, healthier families, healthier economies and better-informed world citizens.

Not only is educating women one of the most efficient ways for aid organizations to make an impact on gender equality, it also benefits the greater community in terms of prosperity, health and peace.

Katie Curlee Hamblen

Sources: Bloomberg, UNGEI, UNESCO, World Bank