Clever Girls: Education’s Gender Gap is Shrinking Faster Than You Think

Girls in a classroom

When it comes to gender equality, we’ve all got a long way to go. From healthcare to income, the situation around the world is dire, with women in every country consistently being given opportunities at rates well below their male peers. 

That’s unacceptable and untenable but there is some great news, if you know where to look.

Women are making incredible gains in one of the most important and foundational areas of all: education. 

All of this matters because education literally saves lives! Studies show that if all women had at least a primary education, there would be 15 percent fewer child deaths. 

If all women had a secondary education, the global rate of child deaths would be cut in half. Studies show that girls with an education are also less likely to be sexually assaulted and more likely to have access to lifesaving healthcare. 

So pursuing education equality for women is a real matter of life and death and fortunately for all of us, life is winning.

Girls in East Asia today can expect to receive about 14 years of education. In 1990, they could only expect to receive about 6. 1990 2017 Girls in Northern Africa can expect to receive about 13 years of education to- day. In 1990, they received only about 8 years on average. 1990 2017 Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa could only expect to receive about 5 years of educa- tion in 1990. Today, it’s closer to 9 years. 1990 2017 Girls in Latin America are actually outpacing boys when it comes to primary education. Girls are getting 15 years of education in those countries, compared to an average of 14 for boys. BOYS GIRLS

Around the world, women still lag behind men when it comes to educational opportunities, particularly when it comes to secondary education. 

But in primary school, there is good news. In poor countries, there are just as many girls enrolling in school as there are boys — a huge step up from just 15 years ago, when there were only about 91 girls for every 100 boys, according to The Guardian.

In the United States, women are outpacing men in one education area: college. 30.2% of women in the US have a bachelor’s degree, com- pared to 29.9% of men. That’s a big jump up from 2005, when 28.5% of men had their BA, compared to just 26% of women.

What happens when the gender gap in education closes?

A single year of primary school has been shown to increase women’s wages later in life by 10 percent to 20 percent. The returns to female secondary education are between 15 percent and 25 percent.

A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of 5 than a child born to an illiterate woman.

Every 1% increase in women with a secondary education boosts a nation’s per capita income growth by 0.3%.

Women who complete primary education are half as likely to contract HIV/AIDS.

A version of this article was originally published in Issue 01 of the Goodnewspaper in July 2017.

Article Details

July 1, 2017 10:02 PM
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