Women and Development

A girl born in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa faces the cruel double burden of growing up in a region beset by poverty, disease, war or famine and confronting these challenges with the added disadvantage of being female. The benefits of improving educational incentives, expanding reproductive services, and promoting economic opportunities far outstrip the costs.

COPENHAGEN – A girl born in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa faces a cruel double burden. She will grow up in a region beset by poverty, disease, war or famine. She will also confront these challenges with the added disadvantage of being female.

Although more attention is being given to gender issues, inequality persists in every culture, country, and continent. A new study for the Copenhagen Consensus project shows that eliminating this disparity is an investment with high payoffs.

Despite global interest in education for all, many girls in poor countries continue to be denied basic education; right from the start, they are disadvantaged. Three in five illiterate children in the world are girls. Particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, cultural norms and economic hardships stop parents from sending their daughters to school or from keeping them in school for as long as they enroll their sons. This unequal investment is neither equitable nor efficient.

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