Why invest in girls?

"Less than two cents of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for adolescent girls"

Development assistance has historically by-passed adolescent girls by grouping them with women or children, but not as a category of their own. Programming that targets adolescents as a broad category generally fails to reach girls. Research shows that participants and beneficiaries of “youth” programs are primarily male. Less than two cents of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for adolescent girls (Girls Count report, 2012).

“Every year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10 to 20%, while the return on secondary education is even higher, in the 15 to 25% range.

There is clear and convincing evidence, amassed over the past two decades, that investing in girl-specific resources in the areas of education, health services, reproductive health, and financial literacy leads to better educated, safer, healthier, and economically powerful adolescent girls. This can contribute to a substantially better future not just for the individual girls, but also for their families, communities, and country. Every year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10 to 20%, while the return on secondary education is even higher, in the 15 to 25% range.

When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families. The impact of investing in girls is intergenerational.”

Girls’ education is proven to increase not only wage earners but also productivity for employers, yielding benefits for the community and society. Women who have control of their own income tend to have fewer children and fertility rates have shown to be inversely related to national income growth. Girls and young women delaying marriage and having fewer children means a bigger change of increasing per capita income, higher savings, and more rapid growth.

When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families. The impact of investing in girls is intergenerational. A mother with a few years of formal education is considerably more likely to send her children to school, breaking the intergenerational chain of poverty. In many countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for up to an additional one-half year. The choices and opportunities available to adolescent girls will determine in many respects the future of Sierra Leone: whether the cycle of poverty is broken in service of prosperity and security.