Developing economies can win extra $21 bn in 15 years by investing in girl child: UN
The study points out that ?girls are currently less likely to be enrolled in secondary education in Arab countries and most of Africa ? home to 70 per cent of the world's 10-year-olds. Photograph: (Getty)
By improving girls' health and sex education, the developing economies of the world can forfeit an extra $21 billion (19 billion euros), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said today.
"Over the next 15 years alone, developing countries together stand to gain or forfeit at least $21 billion, depending on whether or not they invest in the well-being, education, and independence of their 10-year-old girls today," the UN agency was quoted as saying by international news agency AFP.
'16 million girls will never start school'
As it launched its latest study in London, UNFPA highlighted that girls in developing countries are less likely than boys to complete schooling because of various factors including 'forced marriage', 'child labour' and 'female genital mutilation'.
The study points out that girls are currently less likely to be enrolled in secondary education in Arab countries and most of Africa — home to 70 per cent of the world's 10-year-olds. It also points out that sixteen million girls aged between six and 11 (twice the number of boys) "will never start school".
A majority of the girls fail to finish their education after getting married in early adolescence, and UNFPA urged countries to impose a minimum age of marriage of 18.
"For 10-year-old girls, a potential tripling of their lifetime income is at stake. For the societies the girls are a part of, the reduction of poverty is at stake," said the report.
Stressing on the fact that a majority of the girls fail to finish their education after getting married in early adolescence,the UNFPA urged countries to impose a minimum age of marriage of 18. According to the agency, an estimated 47,700 girls get married before that age.
"When the right policies and institutions are in place to build young people's human capital, a developing country can see dramatic economic growth... leading to a demographic dividend, a unique opportunity for economic progress and poverty reduction".
"Access to contraceptives for adolescents and women of childbearing age is crucial." The study gave India and China as examples of the progress possible if developing countries harnessed their youthful populations, AFP reported.
(WION with inputs from AFP)