Nearly 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. This has a significant impact on the welfare of their families, communities, and countries. Sometimes the issue is resources: families simply can’t afford the school fees; or the nearest school is hours away.

Harmful Attitudes and beliefs

In Malawi, like most of sub Saharan Africa, when girls hit adolescence they are expected to assume full-time responsibilities in the home or get married and start families of  their own. Globally, each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 – that’s 23 girls every minute – and girls under 15 years old spend 40%—or 160 million hours—more than boys their age on household chores every day globally. Shame and stigma around menstruation can prevent adolescent girls around the world from attending school.

When schools do not have adequate bathroom facilities, adolescent girls are forced to stay home during their menstrual cycles—and they can wind up falling behind and dropping out.

The Cost of not educating girls

Of the world’s 750 million illiterate adults, two  thirds are women. When countries don’t educate girls, they leave a lot of money on the table. The World Bank reports that limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion dollars in lost lifetime productivity and earnings

The case for increased investment in girls’ education

When girls are educated, they lift up their families, their communities, and their countries. Globally, 420 million people would be  lifted out  of  poverty by achieving a secondary education. This would cut the number of people living in poverty by more  than half. The World Bank reports that universal secondary education for girls could virtually eliminate child marriage. Each year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of marrying as a child by five percentage points or more. Educated girls have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality and are more likely to immunize their children. They are also less likely to contract malaria and HIV. Studies show that educated girls earn higher salaries—10 to 20 percent more for each additional year of secondary school. On average, women with secondary school education earn almost twice as much as those with no education  at all.