Why focus on girls?
Empowering girls and achieving gender equality are crucial to creating inclusive, open and prosperous societies. Gender inequalities, however, persist in many countries so it is important that we find new ways of addressing this issue. We contribute to this agenda by creating opportunities for dialogue to influence policies that benefit girls; work with partners to promote access and opportunity for girls and build the skills and confidence of women and girls to achieve their potential and have more influence over decisions that affect their lives.
There has been considerable progress in recent decades in getting countries to acknowledge the importance of empowering women and girls, in order to promote greater equality in their relationships with men and boys, within their families and in society, but there is still a ot to be done. While the international community recognises the important contribution gender equality can make to poverty reduction and inclusive growth, it also recognises that equality must be, above all, a matter of basic social justice.
Here are five reasons why empowering adolescent girls matters to all of us.
1. It’s her right.
Fundamentally, this is a human rights issue. Discrimination has no place in the 21st century, and every girl has the right to go to school, stay safe from violence, access health services, and fully participate in her community.
2. Empowered girls mean healthier families.
When girls are educated, healthy, and empowered, families are healthier. According to UNESCO, 2.1 million children under age 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls’ education. And closing the gap in the unmet need for family planning for the 225 million girls and women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but aren’t using modern contraception would reduce maternal deaths by 67% and newborn deaths by 77%.
3. Empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families around the world.
Research from the Brookings Institution has found that every additional year of school increases a girls’ eventual wages by an average of 12% – earnings she invests back into her family. Empowered, educated girls have healthier, better educated children and higher wages – helping to break the cycle of poverty.
4. Empowered girls strengthen economies.
According to a new Brookings report, “Increasing the number of women completing secondary education by just 1 percent could increase a country’s economic growth by 0.3 percent.” Additionally, a report just released by the McKinsey Global Institute found that if women’s level of participation in the labor market was the same as men’s it would add up to $28 trillion to annual global GDP in 2025.
5. Did we mention it’s the right thing to do?
Investing in girls is one of the smartest things we can do to promote a healthier, more prosperous world. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Every girl has the right to be in charge of her future and her fate, and we have the collective obligation to protect her rights and promote her wellbeing.