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Gender equality does more than benefit women and girls
March 9, 2017

In the coming weeks, YALI will focus on ways to empower women and girls. Gender equality simply means a world where women and girls enjoy the same rights and have the same opportunities as men and boys. This isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development:

  • In developing countries, 20 percent of girls who enroll in primary school never finish. But when 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3 percent.
  • Women make up 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force. However, women are less likely to own land and they own less land when they do. But when women have the same amount of land as men, there is an over 10 percent increase in crop yields.
  • Women constitute only 18.9 percent of the world’s legislators. But countries where women’s share of seats in political bodies is greater than 30 percent are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.
  • In the developing world, 1 in 7 girls will marry before age 15. But girls who stay in school for seven or more years marry four years later and have two fewer children.

As onetime World Bank chief economist Lawrence Summers said, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.” Each year of secondary school boosts a girl’s future earning power by roughly 20 percent.

Sadly, the World Economic Forum estimates that at the rate of progress it’s measured in the last 10 years, economic parity for women will not be achieved in sub-Saharan Africa for another 79 years. That’s where you come in.

In the coming weeks, YALI will be offering suggestions on what Network members can do to help raise awareness of gender equality issues and ways to take action to empower women and girls. Be sure to check out the YALI Network’s online courses and learn how you can be bold for change by visiting https://yali.state.gov/4her/

Remember, when women lead, we all succeed. What will you do to help empower women and girls to become leaders?