“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said “They are our most powerful
weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”
Nobel Laureate and author
Ensuring that girls everywhere start school and complete their education is as close to a silver bullet as we have to create prosperous, stable, and sustainable communities and countries. Education is a fundamental right,1 and when girls stay in school they gain the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities that provide them with the tools to effectively make their own life choices.
Keeping girls in school helps eradicate poverty, leads to economic prosperity and growth, and builds stronger and healthier families.2 We know that better educated women:
• Are healthier,3
• Participate at higher rates in the formal labor market and earn more money,4
• Are more productive at work and better paid,5 and
• Have fewer, healthier, and better educated children.6
As Americans, we take it for granted that girls and young women will attend and excel in school. In the U.S., 90% of young women graduate from high school and 37% of women from college.7
But in other parts of the world, not all young women and girls have access to education. Some girls never set foot in a school and some only attend for a few years. While there has been significant progress in girls’ education over the last decades, more work is needed. Between 1970 and 1992, combined primary and secondary enrollment for girls in developing countries rose from 38% to 68%.8 But today, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 62 million girls are not enrolled in school, 9 with this lack of access especially pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of South Asia.12
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