I read with interest Kathleen Parker’s opinion piece on women’s rights in foreign policy (TNT, 4-5). She quoted an anonymous senior White House official who said, regarding women’s rights: “There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project.”
Special interest, indeed! It’s a human rights issue.
More than two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser has asserted that “educating girls yields a higher rate of return than any other investment we can make in the developing world.”
For every year of schooling that a girl has beyond grades three or four, there’s a 10 percent birth rate decline, and she earns 20 percent higher wages over her lifetime. Poor women universally tend to invest their money first into their children’s health and well-being.
People of voting age with a primary education are 1 1/2 times more likely to support democracy than people with no education. Studies show that increasing the percentage of children in school by just 10 percent decreased the likelihood of conflict in that country.
No country has reached sustained economic growth without achieving near universal primary education. Developing countries are a significant growth market for U.S exports.
Translation: Empowering women empowers us all.