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Investing in women is critical to any country struggling to climb out of poverty. And what's more, says Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, none of the major economic, security, governance, and environmental challenges of our time can be solved without the participation of women at all levels of society. Empowering women is one of the most effective and positive forces for improving conditions around the globe. Indeed, no country can prosper if half its people are left behind.
Speaking at the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Women's Entrepreneurs’ Conference, Melanne Verveer noted that an increasing number of studies by international bodies such as the World Bank, United Nations and the World Economic Forum, as well as major business companies, correlate investments in women with favorable outcomes for greater economic growth, good governance, and democratic progress.
Better educated women who enter the labor force and public life on an equal footing with men can reduce poverty and promote national growth. Therefore, the single best investment that can be made in the developing world is in educating girls, wrote Ambassador Verveer during a recent web-chat on America.Org. " An educated woman will be a better mother. First, she will postpone marriage until an appropriate age.
"She will provide better nutrition for her children. Mothers are the first teachers of their children.
"Education provides the greatest possibility for gaining a good income. There is a statistic that for every year a girl is in school, her income potential is enhanced by 10 to 20 percent.
"The byproducts of an education are not to be underestimated — whether it’s for the benefits to the family, the benefits to the girl being educated, the benefits to her community or the benefits to her country," wrote Ambassador Verveer.
It is therefore important that communities and governments on all levels help facilitate girls' education. Parents who do not see the value of educating their daughters, lack of funds for tuition, books and uniform fees, and the threat of violence against girls outside of the home are all obstacles that need to be overcome.
"Women’s participation is a prerequisite for good governance, for rule of law, and for economic prosperity," said Ambassador Verveer. "Education is truly fundamental."