World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced on Wednesday that the World Bank Group would invest $2.5 billion over 5 years in education projects that directly benefit adolescent girls, whose empowerment is central to the Bank Group’s development efforts.
The announcement, made at the Let Girls Learn event during the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, was followed by a call to action from the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, urging key policymakers and influencers from around the world to commit to urgent action in support of adolescent girls.
“I’m very excited to join the First Lady in announcing this major boost in funding for adolescent girls’ education,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Empowering and educating adolescent girls is one of the best ways to stop poverty from being passed from generation to generation, and can be transformational for entire societies. This increased funding will help provide countries, especially in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with the tools to expand access to quality education so that all adolescent girls can go to school and reach their full potential.”
First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the power of this investment in adolescent girls, as well as the transformative impact that adolescent girls’ education has on girls, their families and their countries.
“This isn’t just a breathtaking investment of resources, it’s also a powerful statement of mission – it’s an expression of our belief in the power of education to transform the lives and prospects of millions of girls worldwide – as well as the prospects of their families, communities and countries,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “The evidence is very clear: when we invest in girls’ education, and we embrace women in our workforce, that doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits all of us.”
By 2020 the Bank Group expects to invest at least $2.5 billion in education projects targeting adolescent girls (ages 12-17). About 75 percent of these investments are expected to be from IDA, the Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and largely in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which have the highest number of out-of-school girls.
Programs to be supported will include a range of efforts to provide adolescent girls with access to quality education at the secondary level, ensure they are enrolled in and stay in school, and provision of scholarships, conditional cash transfers, and schools with basic facilities like clean drinking water and toilets that promote enrollment.
Today, 62 million girls around the world are not in school, and half of them are adolescents. A World Bank study found that every year of secondary school education is correlated with an 18 percent increase in a girl’s future earning power. Research shows that educating girls has a multiplier effect: better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, give birth to fewer children, marry at a later age, and provide better health care and education to their children.
Educating adolescent girls and promoting gender equality is part of a broader, holistic effort by the Bank Group. This includes financing and analytical work in support of removing financial barriers that keep girls out of school, delaying child marriage, improving access to reproductive health services, and strengthening skills and job opportunities for adolescent girls and young women.
This multidimensional approach is outlined in the Bank Group’s new global strategy for gender equality. Today’s commitment represents a major step toward implementing the goals of this strategy as well as helping achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4, which calls for access to quality education and lifelong learning for all, and Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
As always, Bank Group financing depends on country demand, the state of the global economy, and a strong replenishment this December of IDA, the Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.