The Education of Women Internationally and an Increased Rate of Return


by Mylène Dautel and Lise Calligaris 

Edited by Bridget McDonald, Ph.D.

There are many quotations that express the idea that education is the main key to a developed world: “Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world and ten to one she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody, ” said Jane Austen. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” explained Nelson Mandela. Why is education the main key to an industrialized world? What is the impact of education on societies? What are the benefits of education? Are women as educated as men? If not, then why not? What are the main barriers that women face if they want an education? There are many advantages to getting an education, but there are also problems that many girls encounter when they try to get educated. Although there are obstacles, there are also many things a person can do to improve the situation.

Because the education of women is so vital to modern, functioning societies, education must become more accessible to women. It cannot be denied that women’s education greatly improves how society functions as a whole. Research on human development conducted in 2010 identifies a strong link between women’s education and international development. In fact, investing in a girl’s education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. One way that access to education improves a woman’s situation is that women are able to take more care of themselves once they have increased knowledge about their own health.  For example, girls that have access to education will manage their own health as well as their family’s health issues much more effectively than girls that have no education. By learning more about healthcare, they can reduce infant and maternal mortality and strengthen the societies they come from.

In addition, women gain an increased awareness of their own legal rights regarding their health and can battle injustices more successfully. Education greatly improves the well-being of women and helps them be more independent. With improved access to healthcare, women become more self-reliant. This autonomy can lead women to share their ideas of the world with their own children, which encourages their children in turn to get an education. Improving the lives of future generations plays an important role in the development of society. Not only does access to education for women improve society in sociological terms, it can also affect entire economies.

Beyond having an impact on society, the education of women impacts the economy. According to Harry Patrinos, lead education economist at the World Bank, “The profitability of education, according to estimates of private rate of return, is indisputable, universal, and global.” When a country invests in women’s education it can expect a 1.2% higher return than countries where only men are educated. This research proves that women’s education bolsters economies worldwide. Access to education for women not only allows economies to flourish, it is important to reduce the gender gap in education. In many countries girls are underrepresented at school. For their own benefit, developing countries should invest in women’s education. If governments internationally spent more money on women’s education, then educated women would produce higher dividends, which in turn creates the ripple effect of increased acquisition of managerial and leadership skills which many developing countries need in order to improve their economies.

Education is important for everyone, but it is especially important for girls and women because it impacts the family and future generations. The world is changing and it should try to offer more opportunities for women to improve their lives. It would be easier to write a happy ending and say that women lived happily ever after once education became available to them, but unfortunately this story cannot end here. It cannot end here because with all the rapid changes, transformations and more opportunities available to women to graduate from school and get educated, there is still a gap that must be filled and there is much progress to be made.

There must be a move forward in order for us one day to have the chance to say that women are just as educated as men. For this to happen there needs to be a focus on women in underdeveloped countries. The main problems facing women in underdeveloped countries include a lack of healthcare, forced marriages, lack of resources, rural locations and cultural differences. The main solutions include investing in women (for example through The Girl Effect Movement launched by the Nike Foundation), which helps girls gain access to education via charitable organizations. In rural areas students sometimes have to walk miles to reach the closest school, which is a deterrent for their regular attendance. It is helpful to have certain charitable organizations situated in local villages to encourage girls to stay in school.

Our world is changing so fast that responsible decisions must be made at all times and above all, it is important to remember that everyone has a role to play in creating a better future for all.

For further information, please see these resources:

Women’s Education :

Click to access multi0page.pdf

Click to access BarrierstoGE.pdf

Women’s Leadership :

The Women’s International Center gives special thanks to Mylène Dautel (Normandy Business School, France) and Lise Calligaris (ISCOM, Paris, France) for their productive internships 2014 with our organization.

About Women's International Center

Women’s International Center [WIC] was founded in 1982 as a non-profit education and service foundation [501c3] with the mission to ‘Acknowledge, Honor, Encourage and Educate Women’. For nearly thirty years at our Living Legacy Awards ceremonies, we have brought hundreds of people together to celebrate the accomplishments and lasting contributions of women. Please visit our website at for more information.
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