Investing in Girls’ and Women’s Education Advances Global Development Goals

UN Foundation Ceo Kathy Calvin Praises New Unesco Initiative To Reduce Girls' Dropout Rates, Boost Secondary Education And Increase Adult Literacy

Washington, D.C.

May 26, 2011


Megan Rabbitt

United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin released the following statement praising the announcement made today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, in which UNESCO will work with partners including the U.S. State Department, to boost secondary education rates and adult literacy.

“A strong educational foundation is essential to the success of girls, and their communities, around the world. Investing in an educated, healthy, skilled, and empowered girl today means she will have the tools to reinvest back into her family, her community, and our world tomorrow. UNESCO’s new partnership, ‘Better Lives, Better Future,’ will help stem dropout rates of adolescent girls as they transition from primary to secondary education and in lower secondary schools. Its focus on scaling up women’s literacy programs through stronger advocacy and partnerships is a smart solution to a problem that affects not just young girls, but the communities and families they will build in the future.

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s participation in today’s launch framed the UNESCO initiative in the context of the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Girl’s Health and the global push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Educating women and girls serves as a multiplier for other development goals. Yet lack of education for girls leads to a disproportionate number of adult women without literacy skills; two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults are women. To tackle these challenges, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. will join with UNESCO on a new study of adult literacy and secondary education, the results of which will help policy makers effectively target education investments.

When we educate a young girl, we are shaping our world for a better tomorrow. As part of the largest youth generation in history, adolescent girls need an education if they are going to help their communities move from poverty into prosperity. Providing girls additional schooling puts them on track for future success. Girls who are attending school are less likely to be married early and tend to have a lower risk of HIV/AIDS. Girls who have an extra year of education beyond average boost their eventual wages by 10-20 percent. Girls with more schooling participate in greater numbers in the labor force when they grow up, and they are able to earn more for their families and society.

“We applaud UNESCO and its partners for shining a spotlight on this under-served — but highly influential — period of educational development in an adolescent girl’s life. We commend UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO, for their vision and leadership on this issue. This partnership is helping build a brighter future for us all.”


VIDEO: “A Winning Equation – Girls and Education” now online here:

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About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. These campaigns focus on reducing child mortality, empowering women and girls, creating a new energy future, securing peace and human rights, and promoting technology innovation to improve health outcomes.  These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit