Why Girls? Why Malawi?

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MalawiWhy Malawi?

Malawi is a small, landlocked nation in Southern Africa with about 16 million residents. Excluding the lake, the geographic area of Malawi is roughly the size of Pennsylvania. Often called the “Warm Heart of Africa”, it is also the poorest nation in the world in terms of GDP per capita.[1] Nearly 90% of the population still live in the rural areas, where the majority of Malawians rely upon low value subsistence farming in order to survive, creating a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break. [2]

Malawi’s economy is also largely dependent on agriculture—70% of the country’s export revenue is from tobacco alone, and 80% of export revenue is from agriculture in general. Other important crops include tea and sugar cane.

State of Girls’ Education in Malawi:

Combined with systemic poverty, the state of girls’ education is dire in Malawi. Girls are under-enrolled in school 2:1 compared to boys nationwide, and in many rural areas almost 6:1.

  • Only 6% of girls will go on to graduate high school.[3]
  • Only .1% of girls will go onto higher education. [4]
  • Malawi has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with one in two girls being married before the age of 18.[5]

Why Girls’ Education

“Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest return investment available in the developing world.” mLawrence Summers,
As the World Bank Chief Economist, 1992

The more a girl is educated, the more her community, family, and nation benefit. Over the past ten years, evidence has been growing about how educating girls impacts all sectors of development. We have brought together some of the most compelling evidence here.

  • Investing in girls’ education has also been found to reduce under-five child mortality.[6] Universal Secondary Education for girls could reduce child morality by half.[7]
  • Schooling has a significant positive effect on output, with the rate of return being a 5 to 12 percent increase in economic growth for each additional year of schooling in the average population. Female schooling levels played an important role in increasing growth directly and through its impact on increased life expectancy and lower fertility rates.[8]
  • More education for female farmers, relative to male farmers, increases farm yields by as much as 22%. This is especially important in Malawi because 85% of the population lives in rural areas. [9]
  • Female education “is the single most important social and economic factor associated with a reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters.” [10]

[1] World Bank Group

[2] World Bank Group

[3] United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative

[4] United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative

[5] Girls Not Brides

[6] Gakidou, Emmanuela, et al. 2010. “Increased Educational Attainment and Its Effect on Child Mortality in 175 Countries Between 1970 and 2009: A Systematic Analysis.” e Lancet 376, no. 9745: 959–74. From “What Works in Girls’ Education

[7] UNESCO. 2014c. Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All—EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO. From “What Works in Girls’ Education

[8] Barro, Robert J. and Jong-Wha Lee. 2013. 2013. “A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World, 1950–2010.” Journal of Development Economics 104: 184–98. 
 From “What Works in Girls’ Education”

[9] Quisumbing, Agnes. 1996. “Male–Female Differences in Agricultural Productivity: Methodological Issues and Empirical Evidence.” World Development 24, no. 10: 1579–95. From “What Works in Girls’ Education
[10] Streissnig, Erich, Wolfgang Lutz, and Anthony Patt. 2013. E ects of Educational Attainment on Climate Risk Vulnerability Ecology and Society 18, no. 1: 16. http:// dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05252-180116. 
 From “What Works in Girls’ Education