Empowering Women to Improve the World
One of the many tools to eradicating extreme poverty is investment in young girls and women around the globe. Empowering and encouraging women will not only accelerate the fight against global poverty, but also towards eliminating inequality and gender disparities that inhibit economic potential.

Famously said by Brigham Young: “When you educate a man; you educate a man. When you educate a woman; you educate a nation.”

Education leads to better economic and personal choices. The health status is vastly improved when women are educated. Mothers and children gain more than the benefit of smaller families and healthier children. Maternal and child mortality rates are lower, with less of a risk of dying in childbirth, and higher chances of having children survive past the age of 5.

Educated women are more likely to send their children to school and are also better able to protect themselves and their children against malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, trafficking and sexual exploitation. When there is a lack of education, teen pregnancy and violence against women is high, as is the case in Latin America. This constrains women’s lifestyles and limits choices inhibiting future opportunities.

The correlation of these benefits and education isn’t just a coincidence.

When women are given the opportunity of an education they are able to play a bigger role in the economy, through better jobs and higher wages. A higher number of people in school and higher wages means a higher average GDP. Beneficial for households, communities and nations as a whole.

Women’s participation in the labor force is fundamental in reducing extreme poverty. When women are denied rights, over half of the world’s population is restricted from fully contributing to its own economic growth and well being.

Whether the denial of women’s rights stems from social, cultural, economic, or political roots, their rights are often further confined in times of conflict. Becoming the victims of political disputes, women’s education is compromised. Currently, there are 28.5 million children out of school in conflict-ridden countries, of which over half are girls.

According to UNICEF, approximately 4,000 (1 in 5) Syrian schools have been damaged, destroyed or are being used to shelter displaced families as a direct result of the ongoing conflict. Similar humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Central African Republic are also jeopardizing education opportunities, and further putting the safety of women and children at stake.

These investments in women’s education are about improving security, women’s voice and quality of life. Reducing these gender disparities are key to gaining a fully functioning global society where participation by all genders, ethnicities and classes is encouraged.

Maris Brummel

Sources: Global Public Square, UNICEF, Americas Quarterly
Photo: UNHCR