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Women and Girls as Change Agents

RESEARCH Report by Catherine Bertini and Alyssa Ceretti
A young Indian girl writes on a chalkboard in a classroom
Nikhita S.

Investing in girls' education can put countries on the path to a more stable, prosperous future.


This report demonstrates that educating girls has the power to break the cycle of poverty and transform societies. Educating girls has a multiplier effect: better health, prevention of early marriage and violence, lower fertility rates, higher family incomes, stronger community engagement, and better outcomes for their own children. Investing in girls’ education can put countries on the path to a more stable, prosperous future.

The barriers to educating girls are numerous and complicated. Safety issues, school fees, family demands, and social and cultural norms, as well as lack of access to qualified teachers and adequate facilities, often combine to keep girls out of school. This paper argues that despite ample evidence of the transformative power of educating girls, not enough is being done to advance the advocacy for, research on, and promotion of girls’ education and empowerment. As the author states, education for all girls is not just a right, but a responsibility.

About the Authors
Distinguished Fellow, Global Food and Agriculture
Council expert Catherine Bertini
Catherine Bertini served as executive director of the UN World Food Program, the world’s largest international humanitarian agency, from 1992 to 2002 prior to joining the Council. She was named the World Food Prize laureate in 2003 for her groundbreaking leadership there.
Council expert Catherine Bertini
Alyssa Ceretti
Executive and Research Assistant, Global FoodBanking Network