Zonta International was recently featured in an article from UNICEF USA on quality and equitable education for girls. 

Equitable education benefits the future workforce

Quality education for girls is proven to break the cycle of poverty and increase countries' socio-economic prosperity and well-being. Globally, high school graduates are less likely to marry young and more likely to earn higher incomes, building better futures for themselves and their families. Educated women also bring different skills and perspectives to the workplace, positively impacting GDP and productivity levels. Recognizing the essential role education plays to prepare girls for successful careers, UNICEF and partners like Zonta International, SAP, Clé de Peau Beauté, Gucci and Chloé are equipping millions of girls around the world with the 21st-century skills needed to develop a stronger workforce. 

Women play an essential role in many global industries. For example, women make up about 70 percent of the global health workforce and are at the forefront in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of roles from administering vaccines to dispelling public health misinformation within communities. Yet women and girls have experienced setbacks due to the pandemic that could impact the future global health workforce and other industries critical for societal and economic security.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse decades of progress in girls' education levels

At their peak, COVID-19 school closures disrupted the educations of more than 1.6 billion children; more than 616 million students worldwide are still impacted by full or partial closures. For some—particularly girls—the setbacks could be permanent. It is estimated that 11 million girls may never return to school.

In 1970, girls in the most underserved communities completed, on average, less than three years of formal education. By 2019, this figure had increased to nine years. Despite gains made by previous generations in equitable access to education, unless they receive support, many of today's girls may lose the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Secondary education is particularly important for girls and the well-being of their communities. Increased rates of girls' education lead to better health outcomes for women and their children, including decreased child mortality rates. In addition, educating girls reduces inequalities, increases action to combat climate change, improves civic participation and creates more inclusive economic growth. One study found that every $1 spent on girls' rights and education would generate a return of $2.80 — equivalent to billions of dollars in added GDP. Girls are the workers and business leaders of tomorrow: investing in secondary education for girls is critical to developing a prosperous global economy and society.

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14 MARCH 2022