As the World marks another Day of the Girl Child, millions of women and girls are still denied access to education, economic opportunities and basic health care services and struggle with exploitation, discrimination, violence Blessing Ekowho takes a look at why it makes perfect sense to invest in the girl child.
Women and girls all over the world are most affected by exploitation, discrimination, violence and are also deprived the opportunity to education and to basic health care services. However some people are oblivious to the fact that educating, empowering, and keeping all girls and women healthy will improve their society. Empowering a girl in a developing country would have an impact that would be felt in families, communities and also in future generations to come.
According to UNESCO, 2.1 million children under age 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls’ education. Investing in a girl child can lead to healthier living and reduce rates of child death, as education helps women make better health such as prenatal care, immunization, basic hygiene, and nutrition which are vital to reducing the death rate of children under the age of five.
Investing in education of the girl child will also help reduce teen pregnancy rates around the world, especially in developing countries. According to the WHO, about 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year. Most of them lack information and do not have access to contraception, meaning most of these are unplanned. The number one cause of death for girls is childbirth as they mostly experience complications during childbirth; and so, if young girls are given the privilege of education, millions of lives would be saved.
Improving gender equality by investing in girls is one of the most effective ways to fight extreme poverty and strengthen communities. Educated girls and women are healthier, have the skills to make choices over their own future and can lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty. Investing in women and girls creates long-term economic and social benefits for all individuals, their communities, and the world as a whole. Studies show that women reinvest up to 90 percent of their incomes back into their families, compared to just 30-40 percent by men. Empowered and educated girls have higher wages which break the cycle of poverty, and they also give back to the society by having healthy and educated children.
Investing in girls is also vital for security, keeps Communities stable and helps it recover after conflict. When a country gives all its children education, there is less risk of war and crimes because education increases individual wage rates, thereby increasing the opportunity costs of crime and also, punishment is likely to be more costly for the educated.
Every girl has a right to education, stay safe from violence, access health services, and fully participate in her community. Women rights are also human rights, so, a woman has the right to decide if and when she has children, and also to get high-quality health care.
- Blessing Ekowho
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