Will's Blog

Closing the Learning Gap: Fighting Poverty By Investing In Girls Education

This post is part our our "Education Gives Campaign" in which we will examine the whys and wherefores of the gender gap as it relates to education.
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At Givology our magnum opus is our ability to effectively harness our online giving capabilities as a means for ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to overcome the financial obstacles that stand in the way of obtaining an education.
One of the most effective ways to fight poverty is through investing in education, particularly that of girls. Schooling not only can be a precursor for women and girls to stand up to the injustices they witness, it can also help foster economic growth and stability. Girls who pursue secondary education are also at a significantly lower risk of engaging in crime or falling victim to human trafficking. Educated women have also been shown to marry later and have fewer children ([url=http://www.halftheskymovement.org/]Half The Sky[/url]).
Closing the learning gap will require that all students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to end the cyclical conundrum of poverty which will in turn lead to more productive lives. This means identifying and working towards removing the barriers that often keep girls from having access to a quality education. Investing in girls’ education creates what USAID calls “[i]a multiplier effect[/i]” that extends far beyond the advantages of learning. Greater education ushers forth improved health, socioeconomic status, civic engagement, and food security.
Girls’ education is paramount in perpetuating economic opportunities and stability in the developed and developing worlds. Devoting ample resources to girls’ education delivers huge returns for economic growth, says a new report from the Council’s Center for Universal Education. Although girls are approximately half the youth population in developing countries, they contribute less than their potential to the economy. Improving the socioeconomic outcomes for girls is of fundamental importance, not only them, but also to their communities and the next generation.
Many of the more than half billion girls in the developing world do not have the opportunity to develop into fully functioning members of society. It has been estimated that one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school (Lloyd 2005) and one-quarter to one-half of girls in developing counties become mothers before age 18 (United Nations Population Fund 2005). Estimates have shown that each additional year of schooling amplifies long-term growth. A World Bank study in 1999 demonstrates through data simulation for a selection of 100 countries, that increasing the secondary education of girls by 1% results in annual income increase of 0.3% per capita. Such an increase is substantial for many developing countries. The study concludes that ?societies who have a preference for not investing in girls pay an ample price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income ([url=http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2011/08/08/000158349_20110808092702/Rendered/PDF/WPS5753.pdf]Chaaban and Cunningham 2011[/url]). So, it’s safe to say that girls’ joblessness imposes significant annual productivity losses.
But the United States is not exempt from this developing world paradigm. Take Arnesia Banks, a senior at Chicago's Gary Comer College Prep who says “No one expects a girl like me to go to college. I'm black, from the south side of Chicago, and the vast majority of the people in my neighborhood aren't college educated. No one else in my family has gone to college and my dad has been in prison most of my life.” But this fall she will defy all odds as she matriculates into Boston College.
Arnesia says “seeing people care about her was pivotal in the decision to change her behavior.” She felt the need and the urge to take a conscientiousness effort take responsibility for her actions and prove to her teachers that she was not just another statistic. She wanted to show them she was bright, persevering, and assiduous ([url=http://www.good.is/post/how-i-became-the-first-person-in-my-family-to-go-to-college/]good[/url])
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Closing the gap between girls and boys would increase GDP by up to 5.4%, but when accounting for students, male-female wage gaps and labor demand elasticities, the joblessness gap between girls and their male counterparts yields an increase in GDP of up to 1.2 % in a single year. The cost of adolescent pregnancy as a share of GDP could be as high as 30% or as low as 1% over a girl’s lifetime, depending on the assumptions used to calculate the losses. According to USAID "women’s education is responsible for half of the reduction of child mortality over the past 40 years.” Each teenage mother in India can lose up to $100,000 in potential income over her lifetime. Multiply that by the number of teenage mothers in India and you have a total of $383 billion, which happens to equal the total amount of money spent on global development in 2009 ([url=http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/09/girl-effect-helping-poor-girls-makes-economic-sense.html]pbs[/url]).
Estimates have shown that each additional year of schooling amplifies long-term growth. The World Bank in a 1999 study found that increasing the secondary education of girls by 1% results in annual income increase of 0.3% per capita. Such an increase is substantial for many developing countries. They concluded that societies who have an inclination for not investing in girls pay an ample price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income ([url=http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2011/08/08/000158349_20110808092702/Rendered/PDF/WPS5753.pdf]Chaaban and Cunningham 2011[/url]). So, it’s safe to say that girls’ joblessness and illiteracy imposes significant annual productivity losses.
Girls among 13-24 year olds in the developing world are left with managing nearly all domestic labor and 33 percent of them stated that household chores were the foremost reason as to why they weren’t in school. Take for instance Malawian girls aged 6-14 whom spend 21 hours a week on domestic work, while boys spend 13.5 hours ([url=http://girleffect.tinyfac.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/WDR-Girl-Summary1.pdf]girleffect[/url]). When illiteracy is the perpetuating normality it is less than surprising that girls lack the most basic skills to enter the labor market. Financial literacy, access to credit (to start new businesses), or a role model to show her the way are all compounding factors that hinder their effort to make it out of the cycle of poverty. Without education or marketable skills, a girl must rely on others for basic survival.
We would be remiss if we did not mention that in the past two decades, we have seen remarkable strides in girls’ primary school attendance. But these advances are not yet universal and enrollment of girls reduces significantly in secondary school. A wealthy urban child in Nigeria, boy or girl, averages around ten years of schooling. A poor, rural Hausa girl averages less than six months. We’ve seen that we can get girls in school. Now it’s a matter of keeping them there (Chaaban and Cunningham 2011).
Raising awareness and continually advocating for girls education through our online giving marketplace that leverages small dollar donations to support grassroots projects and student scholarships in the developing world is one way we can help expand the number of girls attending school worldwide.
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At Givology we hope our efforts will also help spur and enliven other enterprising initiatives to ramp-up girls’ education efforts.[/font] Come join the effort in closing the learning gap with us as we fight poverty through investing in girls education...

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