Empowering Women And Girls Is The Key To Ending Poverty, And Here Are Numbers To Prove It

The lives of people in some of the world's poorest countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In their 2015 annual letter, which was published on Thursday, the Gates not only made that bold prediction but also noted that investing in women’s health and education will play a key role in the growth of prosperous communities and nations.

For instance, if women’s level of employment matched men’s over the next 15 years on a global scale, the gross domestic product (GDP) worldwide would go up by 12 percent, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Yes, worldwide.

How exactly does that data break down? Check out the video above and/or read the transcript below for a two-minute explanation, made in a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Huffington Post.

JACQUELINE HOWARD: When we talk about 2 billion people living in poverty, why should we try to gear resources toward women and girls in those communities? Well if you’re thinking: chivalry, you lose. It’s all about results.

You see, when women and girls are healthy, educated, empowered and able to work, everyone wins. How so? Let’s start with a few basics:

Since 1990, maternal deaths worldwide have dropped 45 percent. So the health and wellbeing of women, newborns, and children are closely linked and help build prosperous communities and nations.

Women spend 90 percent of their income on things that directly benefit their families. They prioritize things like food, medicine and education for their children.

And mothers who’ve had an education are more than TWICE as likely to send their own kids to school as mothers with no education.

Now I could go on…but you get the point.

No country can reach its full potential by ignoring half of its population. If we want a healthier, more productive world, then unleashing the power of women and girls is one of the smartest – and most obvious – ways to realize it. Here are just a few ways we can do that:

  • In Africa, where half of the farmers are women, giving them the same access to resources that men have – like mobile phones, farming tools and information – could increase their yields by 20-30 percent, feeding more people and driving economic growth.

  • In India, if women participated equally in the labor force, the country could see an additional 10 percent income per capita by 2020.
  • And globally, if women’s level of employment matched men’s over the next 15 years, the GDP of these countries -- which is a way to measure an economy’s health -- would go up by 12 percent.
  • The evidence is clear. When you invest in women and girls and help them thrive, you can make a difference.

    Watch Melinda Gates explain how women's education can boost the global economy in the HuffPost Live interview below.