Not educating girls costs world trillions in lost earnings

130 million girls out of school around the world suffer from a range of social and economic disadvantages, according to a study by the World Bank.
Thursday 12/07/2018
A displaced Somali girl attends a class to learn alphabets and numbers at a makeshift school at the Badbado IDP camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, on June 25, 2018. (AFP)
A displaced Somali girl attends a class to learn alphabets and numbers at a makeshift school at the Badbado IDP camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, on June 25, 2018. (AFP)

TUNIS - Missed educational opportunities for girls lead to an estimated $15 trillion-$30 trillion loss in lifetime productivity and earnings, according to a recently released report by the World Bank.

The study, conducted by the World Bank Group with support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Global Partnership for Education and the Malala Fund, says that some 130 million girls out of school around the world suffer from a range of social and economic disadvantages.

“Only three in four girls complete their lower secondary education. In low income countries, the proportion is one in three,” the report states. 

In addition to resulting in lower earnings, lower educational attainment is linked less social inclusion, higher rates of child marriage and childbearing and greater health risks. It also translates to an overall drop in human capital and higher population growth, the study notes. 

“Low educational attainment for girls has negative consequences not only for them, but also for their children and household, as well as for their community and society,” states the report.

Experts and activists said the World Bank study underscored the need to enhance educational opportunities for women. 

"When 130 million girls are unable to become engineers or journalists or CEOs because education is out of their reach, our world misses out on trillions of dollars," said Malala Yousafzai, 21, an education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. 

"This report is more proof that we cannot afford to delay investing in girls,” added Yousafzai, who in 2012 survived a gunshot to the head by the Taliban while on her way to school.

"We cannot keep letting gender inequality get in the way of global progress," added World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva in a statement.

The study adds that while dropping out of school comes with high costs for both boys and girls, “not educating girls is especially costly in part because of the relationships between educational attainment, child marriage, and early childbearing, and the risks that they entail for young mothers and their children.” 

“In addition, occupational segregation by gender between paid and unpaid (housework and care) work, and between types of employment and sectors, also lead to especially high potential costs for girls,” it says. 

“A special focus needs to be placed on girls who remain at a disadvantage versus boys in many countries, especially at the secondary level.”