Millions of girls don’t go to school. Globally, 77.6 million girls are currently not enrolled in either primary or secondary education. Almost half of these girls are in Sub-Saharan Asia, with a quarter in South Asia. Furthermore, of the 163 million illiterate youth in the world, more than half- 63%- are female. Girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, with 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty around the world. When international development funds are allocated, less than two cents of every dollar is directed specifically to girls.
This is a major problem. Girls around the world are not guaranteed an education. They are losing out on opportunities that could give them a chance at a better life. They are kept in poverty, in turn keeping their communities and countries in poverty. By not educating girls, we are doing half of the world’s population a disservice.
Still not convinced that educating girls should be made a priority? By not educating girls, sixty-five low- and middle-income countries are losing approximately $92 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same standards as boys. An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10-20%. An extra year of secondary school will boost girl’s wages 15 to 25%. If we increase the number of girls in one country who go to school by just 10%, that country’s GDP will increase approximately 3%.
Furthermore, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. By educating young girls, we teach them that they are worth more than what a man sees in them. We empower young women to strive for something other than marriage. But, when an educated woman does want to have a family, her children will have a better chance of surviving past the age of five: almost twice as likely. Her children will also be more healthy; a young woman who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV, and women who are educated are 50% more likely to immunize their children.
By choosing to not educate young women in developing countries, we do them and the entire world a disservice. Everyone deserves to have an education- especially young women.