Society Has Billions to Gain With Better Educated Women In the Workforce

Turkey could benefit the most from investing in the future of girls

What would happen if you gave a 10-year-old Turkish girl, from a poor family and without any formal schooling, a proper education? The answer is a potential income gain of $61,000 over 15 years.

The job of trying to put a figure on what neglecting about half the population can cost an economy fell to the United Nations Population Fund in its annual State of the World Population report. This year it zeroed in on the untapped economic potential of young girls around the world, with a particular focus on their underutilization in developing economies.

The most striking case of a missed opportunity was Turkey, followed by Iran and Mexico.


Investing in the education of young girls would generate a $21 billion dividend for developing countries if they were allowed to complete secondary school, according to the report. It estimated that 16 million girls aged 6 to 11 in low-income countries will never start school. That is twice the number of boys.

Here is how a breakdown by gender showing how each each additional year of education translates into better pay. 



The biggest gains are possible in countries where girls are often pulled out of school early and put to work or forced to marry. As a result, they are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs. Here is a ranking of the countries where a significant investment in the education of young girls would make the most difference.



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