Education, Especially for Girls

In the view of some scholars, support for girls’ education may offer the highest return on investment in the developing world.1,2,3 Despite the promise of this intervention, an estimated 136 million girls worldwide remain out of school, and girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to remain out of primary school.4,5 According to one analysis, numerous countries lose hundreds of millions of dollars in income because they fail to educate girls to the same level as boys.6

Interventions that advance girls’ education take multiple forms and target key indicators that include enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, as well as learning outcomes. Among those interventions are efforts to subsidize school-going costs, to overcome health-related barriers to attending school, and to provide social-emotional support to girls.1

Investing in girls’ education brings a wide range of benefits. Better-educated women tend to be healthier, to earn more income, to give birth to fewer children, to marry at a later age, and to provide their children with higher-quality health care and education.7,8,9,10 Support for girls’ education also has positive macroeconomic effects: By one estimate, increasing the portion of women who complete secondary education by just 1% can increase a country’s rate of growth by 3%.11 In addition, investment in girls’ education has a positive impact on climate change: Women with more years of education have fewer children, and a reduction in average family size in turn leads to lower carbon emissions.12