U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently spoke in Paris in support of the Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education, an initiative of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "[W]e know opening the doors of education to women and girls is not just the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing as well."
Even one extra year of schooling can lead to significantly higher wages for women, which allows the women to lift up themselves, their families, and contribute to their communities. More education leads to more choices, opportunities, and useful information on how to live one’s life. Child mortality rates, HIV infections, and incidents of domestic abuse all decline when education rises.
Yet women still represent about two-thirds of the nearly 800 million illiterate adults around the world. "No society can achieve its full potential when half the population is denied the opportunity to achieve theirs," Secretary Clinton said. "The United States is proud to join with UNESCO to launch what we hope will be an important new study on education for women and girls around the world."
More comprehensive data and analysis from the study will help policy makers target investments where they can have the greatest impact. "This is especially true for girls, because too often the available data we have on education is not broken down by gender," Secretary Clinton said.
"[W]e don’t have a precise picture of whether schools are serving girls as well as they should, whether they are learning to read, write, do arithmetic at the levels they need to succeed and what the obstacles are. [The study] will help us make the case that advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls is not a marginal concern, but a central challenge of international development."
"[L]et me say how pleased I am that you’re focusing with such intensity on education for women and girls," Secretary Clinton told UNESCO officials. "[B]ecause I know that will pay great benefits for all of the people who will be waiting to see whether those of us who are working on their behalf can actually make a difference to help them have that better life they so richly deserve."