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Why Everyone Should Invest in Educating Girls

I hate math. To force me to learn my multiplication tables, my father used to set the timer on the microwave over and over again, until I could finish a page of equations before the “ding!” To this day I stop a microwave before it finishes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful.

My father understood the value of investing time, effort, and money in one girl’s education—mine. Around the world, however, there are millions of girls who aren’t as lucky. It’s no secret that girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, inaccessibility to education, and sexually-transmitted diseases. In fact, 25 percent of girls in developing countries are not in school, according to the Girl Effect project, which empowers adolescent girls to improve the future of their world through helping them improve their own.

Women’s education and empowerment in developing countries has implications that go far beyond test scores. Without an education, many of them will be married, have children, and contract HIV in the same amount of time it took me to learn how to drive. Alternatively, each extra year of school a mother receives reduces the probability of her infant’s mortality by 5 to 10 percent. Also, a child born to a literate mother is twice as likely to survive to age 5 as a child born to an illiterate mother.

How’s that for some multiplication?

Those numbers become more poignant when you consider that the first 1,000 days of a child's life, from pregnancy to age 2, are critical for establishing a healthy foundation. Malnourishment or under-nutrition in this small window has irreversible and lifelong physical and cognitive consequences. That’s why organizations like the 1,000 Days initiative work to provide pregnant women and their young children with the nutritional building blocks they need to break the cycle of poverty.

To find out more about what organizations like Girl Effect are doing to get people to care about educating girls, check out their video below. (Also, read reflections from Bread for the World's delegation to Africa!)

Emily-Warner Emily Warne is a communications intern at Bread for the World.




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