“First, I think girls’ education may be the single most cost-effective kind of aid work. It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society.”

– Nicholas Kristof, Pultizer-Prize winning humanitarian journalist of The New York Times and co-author of Half the Sky

What about the boys? People ask us all the time why our campaign focuses only on girls.

While there are many equally deserving boys around the world in dire need of an education, we’ve chosen to focus our efforts on girls, since statistically, they’ve faced greater disadvantages. Only one in every five girls in the developing world finish primary school*, and only one out of every three countries (37 percent) has as many girls as boys in secondary schools*. In the countries where we work, the rate of enrollment for girls in secondary school is only 33 percent*. That’s only one in three female students! Yet, less than two cents of every development dollar goes to girls.

Educating girls isn’t just about equality – it’s about the economy. Research consistently shows that educating girls and enabling their participation in the workforce substantially increases a country’s GDP, or economic output. An extra year of primary school for girls means they can earn 10 to 20 percent more, on average. Girls with secondary education have an even bigger return of 18% percent return in future wages, as compared to 14 percent for boys.*

Plus, there is a positive connection between educating girls and lowering maternal mortality rates, delaying childbirth and family size, and improving hygiene to slow the spread of disease. Girls who are educated are, in the long run, likely to marry later, bear fewer children, educate their own children, and be less vulnerable to sexual abuse and coerced sex (and therefore less likely to be infected by sexually transmitted diseases)*.

We can transform a girl’s life if we help her be the first to reach her high school graduation, changing the trajectory of her entire life. For further information, try our recommended reads below, and join us in turning these harrowing statistics into future success stories.

Book Shelf: 

  • Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2012 [Plan International]
  • The Best Investment [TIME Magazine]
  • State of the World’s Children 2007 [UNICEF]