How do women and girls play a role in global progress? The UN estimates that given the opportunity to stay in school and delay early marriage, Indian girls could add up to $110 Billion to India’s GDP in their lifetime. Educated and employed women reinvest 90% of their earnings in their family, as compared to 35% for men. Women have a unique ability to create cycles of change in their community, because of the role they play within them. Keeping a girl in school and delaying early marriage means that girls are older and more informed when they eventually have children; their children will thus be healthier and more likely to stay in school longer themselves. The cycle continues. Women and girls can change the world.
But only if they’re given the chance to.
And the problem is, of course, they’re usually not. In India, 47% of girls are still being married before the age of 18. Only 30% graduate from 10th class. Until this changes, cycles of inequality will absolutely be perpetuated in communities across India, and the world. Not just cycles of gender inequality, but cycles of economic and social inequality as well.
Gender inequality is not only an injustice to girls and women, it’s holding back global development. This doesn’t mean that we should seek equality for women solely because of the advantages this equality presents to society at large. Injustice is injustice, and should always be righted for the sake of its victims. A woman is not a means to some end of global development. But the fact that women can bring so much to the international table, and yet are in many places still viewed as less-than-human, sheds light on how harmful, and downright ridiculous gender inequality is to the world.
Gender inequality isn’t helping anyone. It’s hurting us all. This theory of global development lies at the root of VOICE’s programming. We give girls the skills and knowledge they need to be change-makers in their own lives, and ultimately in the lives of those around them. We see daily the amazing potential girls in India hold – and we want the world to see it, too.
Let Women’s Day serve as a push to remind us all of this potential, and raise awareness about the multitude of ways we can all contribute to improving the global situation for women, and the global situation for all of us.
Celebrate the women in your life today!