The link between educated girls and economic growth is clear — girls’ education boosts economies, creates a more inclusive workforce and reduces income inequality. Yet girls continue to be left behind.
Malala Fund’s new report, Full Force: Why the world works better when girls go to school, reveals that almost one billion girls and young women are currently unequipped with the education or skills they need to compete in our rapidly changing labor market.
These girls have great dreams for their future — to become scientists, entrepreneurs or coders — but they continue to face barriers to learning at every stage because of their gender. Without access to quality education, girls will likely face a lifetime of low wages and job insecurity.
Educating girls makes sense for economic prosperity
We cannot hope to achieve global economic progress without unlocking the potential of millions of girls denied an education. The workforce of the future needs educated girls who become economically empowered women, promote sustainable development and drive economic growth.
In July, Malala Fund, GPE and the World Bank released data showing that if all girls completed secondary school, they could add up to $30 trillion to the global economy.
That’s why business leaders are taking notice and showing increased support for out-of-school girls. They understand that educated girls are a vital investment in global transformation.
In his foreword to Malala Fund’s report, Apple CEO Tim Cook urges: “If civil society took the fundamental step of guaranteeing 12 years of education for every woman and girl, every community would benefit, every sector would thrive, and every economy would grow.”
G20 leaders — who represent the world’s leading economies and 85% of global trade — will meet in Argentina one month from now to plan for the future of work. And for the first time, education will be a critical part of that discussion.
Countries must increase funding for girls’ education
Nearly one-third of the 130 million girls out of school today call G20 countries home. And of the girls who go to school, many will drop out before graduating grade 12 — just one-third of girls in India will sit for their final secondary school exams. Meanwhile, not one of the G20 countries is following the Education Commission’s recommendation and allocating 15% of its official development assistance budget to help poorer countries tackle their own education challenges.
If the G20 wants to avoid a future in which too many girls are locked out of the modern labor market, too many workers lack necessary skills and economic growth is slow, it must make a concerted effort to see every girl complete 12 years of quality education.
Beyond headline agreements, Malala Fund is asking G20 leaders to take three tangible steps:
- increase domestic budgets for education in developing countries to at least 6% of GDP;
- increase donor contributions to 15% of aid budgets; and
- begin work on a specific initiative to help low and middle-income countries prepare girls with the digital skills needed for the future of work.
The decisions and policies taken by G20 leaders next month will determine whether gender gaps in education and the labor market close or widen during the coming phase of technological disruption. By taking these steps to support girls’ education, G20 leaders can help create a world where all girls learn and earn at full force.