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The Economic Impact of Educating Girls

Friday, June 07, 2019 2:19 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

Educate a girl; empower a community. Educating all children is vital, but educating girls has a proven multiplier effect and significantly impacts the economy. It is for this reason that so much attention has been paid to girls’ education in recent years, particularly in developing countries.

One young girl begins her education at Saving Grace School in Arusha, Tanzania.

Gender parity in education is improving, but we still have a long way to go. For example, in Tanzania, near universal enrollment in primary education has been achieved. Secondary education is another story. According to Human Rights Watch, only 60% of adolescents in Tanzania can access a lower secondary education. Of these teens, only one-third of girls who enter secondary school graduate. (8)  (Read more:

It is not just for the sake of justice that organizations such as the World Bank are turning their attention and resources towards educating girls. [Over the past two years, the World Bank has invested more than $3.2 billion towards projects aimed at helping girls achieve a full education.(3)]  Women with a primary education earn 14 to 19 percent more than women without one. (4) Women with a secondary education earn almost twice as much as those with no education. (1)

Source: The World Bank “Missed Opportunities, The High Cost of Not Educating Girls”

The impact on a country’s economy is significant. In its 2018 report, “Missed Opportunities, The High Cost of Not Educating Girls,” the World Bank estimated that if universal secondary education was instituted worldwide, lifetime earnings for women would increase between $15 and $30 trillion globally. (1)

A more focused study was conducted in Pakistan between the years 1990 and 2016. Its purpose was to learn to what degree the education of girls impacted the Pakistani economy. The results showed that a one percent increase in female participation in education and the labor force led to a 96% increase in GDP. Female education, the researchers noted, reduced the fertility rate and increased the number of females in the labor market. They suggested that the government increase spending on female education and focus on improving educational quality. (6)

Providing 12 years of education could translate into a variety of quality-of-life improvements. Educated women are more likely to advocate for themselves and for better services including health care, education and clean water. They tend to be decision makers both at home and in their communities.

Source: The World Bank “Missed Opportunities, The High Cost of Not Educating Girls”

A secondary education could also reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS, the risk of domestic violence, the occurrence of child mortality and malnutrition.

The benefits are generational. Educated women generally have fewer, healthier and better educated children. In sub-Saharan Africa, universal secondary education would cause child marriages to fall by as much as 64%. Furthermore, because universal secondary education would lead to reduced fertility rates, a reduction in global population would be another far-reaching outcome. Think about the secondary results in these improvements - in food supply, energy, the environment. The rate of return on educating girls goes far beyond numbers - its impact could stretch to every corner of the globe.










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