International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating women’s economic, political and social achievements around the globe. It is a day to acknowledge women’s successes, while recognising that there is still a long way to go in ending the inequalities women continue to face.
Without a doubt, women’s visibility across a number of countries has increased: there are more women in boardrooms and an increase in legislative rights for women. But overall women still remain significantly behind men in their economic achievements, decision-making powers and in many facets of social life. Globally the statistics on violence against women remain incredibly high. And, women and girls’ access to services such as education and healthcare remain markedly behind that of men.
Though there has been significant progress on women's rights, on this International Women's Day people need to address the obstacles many women and girls still face around the world, including barriers to education. Increasingly around the world, girls’ access to education is recognised as a major contributing factor to achieving gender equality and removing the barriers to poverty.
An extra year of primary school education boosts a girl’s eventual wages by 10-20 percent, while an extra year of secondary school adds 15-25 percent to her wage. An educated girl will re-invest 90 percent of her future income in her family through things like education and family healthcare, whereas a man will, on average, only invest 35 percent of his income in his family.
Education is a human right which allows a girl to become her own decision-maker, gives her the ability to navigate around existing barriers, and allows the benefits of her education to reach far beyond herself.
While the economic benefits of educating girls are similar to those of educating boys, recent findings suggest the social benefits are greater. Not only because education is an entry point to opportunity, but also because women’s’ educational achievements have positive ripple effects within the family and across generations.
By investing in girls everywhere we can support a generation of empowered women, mothers, workers and leaders who will improve the lives of everyone around them and create a cycle of progress for their families, communities and entire nations.