An official website of the United States government

Everyone Thrives When Women and Girls Learn
March 3, 2016

Young girl holding pencil over paper (USAID)

Advancing women’s rights in Africa and throughout the world begins with giving girls access to education. In the last decade, remarkable advances have been made in sub-Saharan Africa in girls’ enrollment in primary education. But in the majority of sub-Saharan African countries, fewer than 1 in 10 girls graduates from secondary school.

Adolescence is a critical period in a girl’s life and shapes her future. In too many parts of the world, this drop-off in education comes when girls become subject to norms that limit their social roles, reduce their choices and threaten their health.

Because of poverty, many families feel they cannot afford to lose the labor their daughters contribute to the household by sending them to school. However, evidence suggests that educating adolescent girls is one of the most effective ways to achieve development goals.

Consider these points:

  • Girls who attend school as adolescents marry later, have children later and have lower rates of HIV/AIDS.
  • Each extra year of a mother’s secondary schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5–10 percent.
  • Girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to be married as children.
  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to live past age 5.
  • Every year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10–20 percent, and the return on secondary education is even higher.

Given these and the others facts you’ll learn during #Africa4Her, the education of girls and women goes even beyond its importance as a human right and affects directly their health and prosperity.

How will you be bold for change? Tell us at yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com/4her by taking the #Africa4Her quiz!