Educating Young Women: The Catalyst to Ending Global Poverty


130 million girls didn’t go to school today – not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t have the chance. These young women who do not have the right to education are not only missing out on learning basic cognitive skills, but are being set up for short lives filled with sickness and abuse. In many countries, this lack of education makes young women more likely to become child brides, suffer from diseases such as HIV, get pregnant at younger ages, and die young. Study after study has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. Not only does an education teach girls how to read and subtract, but it empowers them to stand up against injustice and become an integral part of the economy – ultimately benefiting not only themselves, but their families, communities, and the greater economy. 


Some countries lose more than $1 billion each year by failing to give  girls an adequate education. Yet, girls’ education has been recognized as a silver bullet solution to bring communities out of poverty.  When 10% more of a country’s girls go to school, thier GDP can increase by an average of 3%. Just one extra year of  secondary education can increase a woman’s income by as much as 25% per year. An educated woman is more likely than a man to save these earnings, take on entrepreneurial pursuits, invest in her community, and empower other women, reversing the cycle of poverty and sparking a “cycle of prosperity.”


Education has tremendous effects on girls’ health. Not only is an educated woman less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, but her family and children will have much better health as well. Complications during pregnancy are the leading causes of death for girls ages 15-19 globally. The longer a girl remains in school, the longer she will wait to get pregnant and the healthier she and her baby will both be. Each additional year of primary school that a girl gets leads her to have .26 fewer children – leaving her with better survival rates and more money to spend on fewer family members. In Burkina Faso, mothers with secondary education are twice as likely to give birth more safely in health facilities as those with no education at all. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a child born to a woman who cannot. At the same time, a study in Zambia has found that HIV spreads twice as fast among uneducated girls, and a study in Uganda has demonstrated that each additional year of education for girls reduces their chances of contracting HIV by 6.7%.

Senna, Peru. Senna’s father insisted that she attend school and learn all the things that he hadn’t. In the classroom, Senna discovered the transformative power of poetry and even won a writing contest. Senna has said, “I will study to become a professional and change my country.”



Ayisha, Ghana. Ayisha finished secondary school thanks to her family’s hard work, but it was not easy. After graduating, she received business training, mentoring, and a grant from an organization called Camfed. She started processing shea nuts into butter and by 2015, she has set up four co-operatives with 210 women working together and learning from each other. “Now, if someone in the family is sick, I know I can support their care. For those who are in school, I can support them with books are school fees.”


Runyararo, Zimbabwe. When her father was diagnosed with tuberculosis, Runyararo’s chance of finishing her education seemed entirely lost. Her family had no money and she had to leave school and work in the fields alongside her other. An organization called Camfed stepped in to support her through school. She is now a doctor, saving lives daily. As a young girl, she wrote, “If only I get the chance I will do something great.”

These bios were taken from ONE’s #GirlsCount initiative.


ONE is an advocacy organization that works to end poverty and extreme disease, and much of their focus to accomplishing these goals is through campaigning for girls’ education. They have acknowledged that “poverty is sexist” and have started the #GirlsCount movement to create the longest video of all time, in which each individual of the 130 million girls without an education is represented through people just like you and me picking a number, and recording themselves counting this number. I urge you to visit, and pick a number. I am representing #23,372.

The responsibility lies on our shoulders to make a change. We often take advantage of the education that we are so lucky to have, and we need to remember to cherish it. Yet, more importantly, we need to raise awareness of the dire global crisis that is the lack of girls’ education in impoverished communities, and ensure that it is widely acknowledged that educating girls is the key to ending global poverty.









Gillard, Julia, and Cate Blanchett. “Educate Women and Their Community Will Prosper. Deny Them Education and the World Will Suffer | Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Oct. 2014,

Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

McCarthy, Joe. “Educating Girls Is the Key to Ending Poverty.” Global Citizen, 7 Aug. 2015,

Population Reference Bureau. “The Effect of Girls’ Education on Health Outcomes: Fact Sheet.” Population Reference Bureau, 5 Aug. 2011,

Ramesh, Kaavya. “8 Quotes about the Girls’ Education Crisis You Need to Read.” ONE, 18 Oct. 2017,



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  1. April 27, 2018 by Alex Treisman

    Wow!! There is a lot of important information in this presentation. I completely agree that poverty is sexist and that there need to be more changes in how the world operates around women in poverty. Thank you for including the source — it has lots of valuable information that is necessary to spread advocacy and education about this issue. I will share this presentation around my friends and family because the lack of education for young women is an issue that most definitely needs to be solved.

  2. April 28, 2018 by Kate.Miller

    Hey Ashley! Your site does a great job of addressing and raising awareness for a very important issue. At my high school, I am involved in a group called Circle of Women which is a nonprofit working to provide girls access to secondary education who otherwise wouldn’t, and our chapter has worked to raise awareness, raise money and even design our own project in Peru. I would really recommend you watch the youtube video, “The Girl Effect,” that we often show at events we put on and at group meetings. It is very impactful and relevant to your topic. Here is the link:

    Overall, great job on your project! It is very informative and engaging.


  3. April 29, 2018 by Jennifer.Bernardez

    Your use of bolding certain words or phrases was really effective. I liked how you not only touched on the economic impacts of more girls getting educated in impoverished countries but also the health impacts. It was also great to see the the stories and faces of girls who are proof of your project’s statement. Good job overall!

  4. May 01, 2018 by Hyunsuh.Kim

    Thank you for sharing this and raising awareness! I’m #21,156 and will share it with others too.

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