US First Lady Joins World Bank Group to Educate, Empower Girls

First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama advocates for girls and women across the world

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Washington, DC – The 2016 World Bank Group / International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings on Wednesday (April 13) kicked off with a bang, with Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States joining President Jim Yong Kim, and leaders from Ghana, Rwanda, and India in committing to a better future for our world’s adolescent girls.

Kim announced that the WB Group would invest $2.5 billion over 5 years in education projects that directly benefit adolescent girls, whose empowerment is central to the WB Group’s development efforts.

The announcement, made at the ‘Let Girls Learn’ event, was followed by a call to action from Michelle, urging key policymakers and influencers from around the world to commit to urgent action in support of adolescent girls.

Michelle highlighted the power of this investment in adolescent girls, as well as the transformative impact that adolescent girls’ education has on girls, their families and their countries.

“This isn’t just a breathtaking investment of resources, it’s also a powerful statement of mission – it’s an expression of our belief in the power of education to transform the lives and prospects of millions of girls worldwide – as well as the prospects of their families, communities and countries,” said Michelle. “The evidence is very clear: when we invest in girls’ education, and we embrace women in our workforce, that doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits all of us,” she added.

Earlier, Kim said, “I’m very excited to join the First Lady in announcing this major boost in funding for adolescent girls’ education,” adding, “Empowering and educating adolescent girls is one of the best ways to stop poverty from being passed from generation to generation, and can be transformational for entire societies. This increased funding will help provide countries, especially in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with the tools to expand access to quality education so that all adolescent girls can go to school and reach their full potential.”

Encouraging the global efforts, Michelle highlighted work done by countries like Ghana and India and Rwanda, who “are already doing such important work as part of this effort—from scholarships and mentorship opportunities, to innovative programs to break down the cultural barriers that keep girls out of school.”

Arun K Singh, the Indian Ambassador to US in his remarks noted the Indian Government’s steps including “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (Save Girl Child, Educate Girl Child) towards education and empowerment of girls in the country.

Quoting statistics, Singh added, “The goal is to achieve an enrollment of 90 per cent by 2017, and universal retention by 2020. In five years, enrollment of girls has improved from 58.70 to 78.94. Gender Parity Index has increased from 0.88 to 1. And there is sharp reduction in gender gap.”

By 2020 the WB Group expects to invest at least $2.5 billion in education projects targeting adolescent girls (ages 12-17). About 75 percent of these investments are expected to be from IDA, the Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and largely in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which have the highest number of out-of-school girls.

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