International Women’s Day is the perfect time for us to remember the unique challenges young women and girls face when it comes to getting into and staying in quality schools. Globally, nearly 130 million girls are not in school and nearly 40 per cent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa¹. Yet, if all girls had a secondary education there would be:
• 2/3 less child marriages
• 59 per cent less teenage pregnancies
• 1/2 as many child deaths
• universal declines in gender wage gaps
• greater reduced maternal mortality, child mortality and childhood stunting² .
Clearly, we need to figure out how to get more girls into good classrooms. This is one of the most important things that Opportunity International can contribute to helping girls as an organisation. Thankfully, through Opportunity’s education finance program, we have already learned how to get kids into school and keep them there. And now, we’re learning how to make these schools better, so students get the quality education they need to break the cycle of poverty in which their families have been trapped for generations.
I’ve spent my career driving international development programs, focusing on children’s rights, human rights, and of course, education. I’ve been able to come on board at Opportunity and start influencing the global conversation about girl’s education and how we can help girls gain access to quality schools.
I’m passionate about strengthening the participation and voice of women. I want women to be able to articulate their needs and feel as though their views are valued. And I’ve seen that when women have a seat at the table, education is usually a key topic of discussion. Women are passionate about getting their kids into school and see the immense value in educating them. That’s why women’s voices are important.
When women are included in the economy, the results are phenomenal. Greater inclusion of women could result in a 26 per cent boost in annual global output by 2025³ . Because women reinvest most of their income into their families, including investing in their children’s education.
We’ve big hurdles ahead of us, but we know what power women and girls have. International Women’s Day is a fantastic time to reflect on this power. At Opportunity, we know that girl’s education and empowerment is pivotal, so we’re committed to developing, testing and growing programs that help give women and girls a hand up.
Leave no girl behind this International Women’s Day click here.
1. UNESCO http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002452/245238E.pdf
2. UNESCO https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girls-factsheet-en.pdf
3. McKinsey Institute https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/how-advancing-womens-equality-can-add-12-trillion-to-global-growth