Written Paper

Girls' Education in the 21st Century : Gender Equality, Empowerment, and Economic Growth  [2008]

Tembon, Mercy; Fort, Lucia;

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Gender equality is not just a women's issue, it is a development issue. Women's economic empowerment is essential for economic development, growth, and poverty reduction not only because of the income it generates, but also because it helps to break the vicious cycle of poverty. Educating girls and women is critical to economic development. Research conducted in a variety of countries and regions has established that educating girls is one of the most cost-effective ways of spurring development. Female education creates powerful poverty-reducing synergies and yields enormous intergenerational gains. It is positively correlated with increased economic productivity, more robust labor markets, higher earnings, and improved societal health and well-being. This book is based on the background papers developed for the symposium. Although the papers have been edited, their key messages remain intact, and the theme of the symposium respected. The overview chapter is a thematic paper prepared by the World Bank that brings out the main messages of the symposium. The subsequent chapters reflect the current state of education from a gender perspective and highlight the importance of and challenges to female education as well as the interdependence of education and development objectives. The final chapter presents five strategic directions for advancing gender equity in education.