While providing equal education to girls is necessary from a moral standpoint, it is also essential for a more peaceful and poverty-free world.

Education affects the age at which women marry and have children. Therefore, until girls have equal access to quality education, maternal mortality, overpopulation, and other factors contributing to poverty will continue to terrorize our world.

In sub-Saharan Africa, and South and West Asia, child marriage affects 1 in 8 girls. By the age of 17, 1 in 7 females will have their first child. Since girls in these areas are not given access to education or job opportunities, they are often locked into these marriages, and forced to become mothers far before they are ready.

In the long run, these women can’t afford to take care of their children or even attain proper health services during labor. The line of poverty continues as children are born into impoverished families that are unable to help their offspring escape this cycle.

Providing women with a secondary education brings enormous benefits to both women and to the world. Educated women are empowered women. They can make their own choices and follow their own dreams. If girls receive a secondary education, 64 percent of them won’t get married while still attending school. By giving girls a chance to pursue their own future and making them aware of the risks associated with consecutive childbearing, the vicious cycle will finally reach its end.

The advantages in investing in female education are endless – for individuals, for the fight against poverty, and for lowering child mortality rates. The rise in female education between 1970 and 2009 prevented more than 4 million child deaths. With the Millennium Development Goals still met, perhaps this is an essential place for the U.N. to make a change.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: Global Post, TIME, Huffington Post
Photo: The Guardian