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United Way Blog

How Educating Young Girls is Improving the Economy Across the World

The economic crises around the world are almost overwhelming. But one of the best investments we can make is in girls – in helping them get educated, healthy and empowered to contribute to their communities.

Here are some of the facts:

  • Research finds that when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by an average of 3%.
  • Every year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10 to 20 percent, while the return on secondary education is even higher, in the 15 to 25 percent range
  • What’s more, some countries lose more than $1 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys.

The research is clear. Educating and empowering girls can potentially improve the economic and social conditions of millions of people worldwide. By ensuring that a young girl has access to education and eliminating barriers to employment, we increase the life expectancy of her future children, her income potential, and yields benefits for the community and society at large. The investments that countries make in girls today will shape their lives and those around them for generations to come.

United Way Women Leaders Investing in Girls

That’s why United Way is creating a groundswell of women leaders uniting to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of girls throughout the world. Here’s a few ways we are doing it:

  • In Canada, United Way of Calgary and Area’s women leaders are leading an effort that supports girls to complete high school and provides connections to further learning and employment. They have also commissioned a report that examines the unique barriers faced by girls to complete high school and highlights opportunities to overcome those challenges.
  • In North Carolina, United Way of Greater Triangle’s women leaders focus on the development of positive life skills for young teen girls. Their efforts include supporting the annual Discover the Leader in You Camp, where girls discover and develop their inner-leader.  WLC members participate at camp and additional year-round volunteering to provide mentoring and engagement opportunities.
  • In Wisconsin, United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s women leaders support the investment of over $4 million in the "Healthy Girls" program, which includes teen pregnancy prevention initiatives, as well as reading and mentoring. Through community collaboration, Milwaukee has achieved a 50% decrease in teen pregnancy rates, a goal reached three years early.

United Way and our women leaders are committed to investing in girls’ education, health and economic development to ensure we are capitalizing on the full potential of girls to serve as workers, mothers, elected officials and leaders in their communities. As girls' rights advocates, we know that we are only at the place we are today because people and institutions invested in us.

On International Day of the Girl, we invite you to become an advocate on behalf of girls in your community. Share the message that investing in girls matters. Let's raise our voices and ask national and international policy makers to stand up for girls. Follow the conversation and share the message that investing in girls matters with the #DayoftheGirl.