10 Reasons to Integrate Gender into Education Programming
Over the past decade, the global agenda on education and gender has shifted from a narrow focus on girls’ education to a broader goal of achieving gender equality and mainstreaming interventions to reduce inequities through education programming. This reflects an understanding that inclusive and equitable quality education is critical for the elimination of extreme poverty and for building peaceful and prosperous communities. Gender-responsive education programs for both girls and boys yield multiplier effects, with deep economic, civic and social outcomes at the individual, household, community, district and national levels.
Evidence shows how investments in education can positively affect conditions for girls, women, boys and men. With specific regard to girls, there are several compelling reasons to invest in education programs that target their unique needs.
Reasons to invest in education programs that target girls' unique needs
Increases economic growth
Education for girls and boys increases productivity and is an important contributor to economic growth. Globally, women participate less in the formal economy, but multiple studies have estimated the economic benefits that would accrue from giving women the education and skills they need to join the labor force.
Improves women’s wages and jobs
Better-educated women have higher earnings and are able to get and keep better jobs. Particularly in areas where women are not as well represented in the formal economy as men, girls’ education can help reduce the gender gap in the labor force, and increased levels of education can increase women’s wages more than men’s.
Saves the lives of children and mothers
Increasing levels of girls’ education has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence of infant and maternal mortality. Better-educated adolescents and women are better able to seek and negotiate life-saving health care for themselves and their young children.
Leads to smaller and more sustainable families
Women with higher levels of education have fewer children and more frequently employ sound reproductive health practices.
Results in healthier and better-educated children
Better-educated mothers have healthier and better-educated children who are more likely to benefit from adequate nutrition and immunizations, attend school more regularly and longer, and study more frequently.
Reduces rates of HIV/AIDS and malaria
Girls’ education is often called the social vaccine against HIV/AIDS because of the dramatic reduction in the incidence of the disease among better-educated girls and women. This also holds for malaria, because better-educated girls and women are less likely to contract malaria and are more likely to use prevention techniques, such as bed nets.
Reduces rates of child marriage
Girls who are better educated are less likely to be married off as children and are more likely to have opportunities to build a healthier and more prosperous life for themselves and their families.
Better-educated women are more empowered women. When girls go to school, they develop into women who have more say over their lives, are less likely to be subject to domestic violence, participate more in decision-making in households and have an increased sense of their own worth and efficacy.
Increases women’s political leadership
Girls’ education helps give women the skills they need to play leadership roles—from community councils to national office—in public life.
Reduces harm to families from natural disasters and extreme weather
Higher levels of education generally help prepare families for coping with shocks. Girls’ education in particular is associated with reduced injury and death and increased family and community resilience from the hazards of natural disasters and extreme weather.
When education programming provides a level playing field for both girls and boys to succeed, there are substantial public and private returns. Individuals and communities alike benefit from a better educated society, the long-term ripple effects of which can last for generations to come.