In 1948, the world’s nations came together and agreed that “everyone has a right to education,” boys and girls and rich and poor alike. This vision set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been reinforced over the decades and today the girls who still fight to be educated are not cases for charity but actively pursuing what is rightfully theirs. In recent years, girls’ education has also received attention because, in the words of the United Nations, “education is not only a right but a passport to human development.” Evidence has been mounting on the pivotal role that educating a girl or a woman plays in improving health, social, and economic outcomes, not only for herself but her children, family, and community. Educating girls helps improve health: one study published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, found that increasing girls’ education was responsible for more than half of the reduction in child mortality between 1970 and 2009. The economic benefits are clear: former chief economist at the World Bank and United States Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers concluded that girls’ education “may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world” due to the benefits women, their families and societies reap. And because women make up a large share of the world’s farmers, improvements in girls’ education also lead to increased agricultural output and productivity."
Read article by Rebecca Winthrop and Eileen McGivney from Brookings.