This publication discusses gender equality as a development issue. It argues that women’s economic empowerment is essential for economic development, growth, and poverty reduction not because of the income it generates, but because it helps to break the poverty cycle. It demonstrates that educating girls and women is critical to economic development. Research conducted in a variety of countries and regions shows that educating girls is one of the most cost-effective ways of spurring development. Furthermore, female education creates powerful poverty-reducing synergies and has the potential to yields enormous intergenerational gains. It is positively correlated with increased economic productivity, more robust labor markets,higher earnings, and improved societal health and well-being.
It is based in part on a symposium titled “Education:A Critical Path to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” held at the World Bank October 2–3,2007. The symposium was organized by a team led by Mercy Tembon (Human Development Network, Education Group (HDNED)) and Lucia Fort (Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, Gender and Development Group (PRMGE)) under the direction of Ruth Kagia (Education Director, HDNED) and Mayra Buvinic (Gender Group, Director PRMGE). The chapters of the book reflect contributions by presenters at the symposium.