It Pays to Educate Girls

Today is International Day of the Girl Child. A day started by the United Nations to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

Around the world 175 million children do not get basics education with more than half of those being girls. According to UNICEF, 67.4 million girls around the world who should be in secondary schools are not. For people ages 15-24, 123 million of them cannot read or write, 61% of those people are women. Half of children who are not in school live in conflict-ridden countries. Girls are 55% of that population.

67.4 million girls around the world who should be in secondary schools are not.

UNICEF

For people ages 15-24, 123 million of them cannot read or write, 61% of those people are women. Half of children who are not in school live in conflict-ridden countries. Girls are 55% of that population.

A girl with an extra year of education can earn between 10% and 20% more as an adult. Girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to marry as a child. A child born to a mother who can read and write is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.

Let’s put some dollar signs on these statistics. Each addition year of schooling raises the average gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.37%. Children not getting primary education costs the U.S. about $129 billion a year.  A dollar invested in an additional year of schooling for girls creates earning and health benefits of $10 in low-income and $4 in lower-middle income countries. Around the world, countries are losing $160 trillion in wealth because of the differences in lifetime earnings between women and men. This is about $23,620 per person. If every girl worldwide received 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion globally.

What can we do?

Let us celebrate this day, remembering how lucky we are to live in the United States and by giving outside our communities (and possibly our comfort zone) by helping those who have fewer opportunities. We can give back using what was freely given to us.

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