Educating girls comes in as the #6 most effective way to reverse global warming. The reasoning in this relationship comes down to population growth. As discovered by the Brookings Institution, “the difference between a woman with no years of schooling and with 12 years of schooling is almost four to five children per woman. And it is precisely in those areas of the world where girls are having the hardest time getting educated that population growth is the fastest.” In fact, 130 million girls around the world are missing from classrooms (Unesco, 2016).

Although the cost of providing universal education in developing countries is significant, a 2010 economic study shows that this investment is “highly cost-competitive with almost all of the existing options for carbon emissions abatement”. In other words, investing in girls’ education provides a similar return on investment to purchasing carbon offsets and installing new renewable energy infrastructure (and let’s not forget the societal benefits of a more educated population). One incredible organization doing work in this field is the Malala Fund, founded by Malala Yousafzai, an education activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban at age 15. The organization works in regions where the most girls miss out on secondary education, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and countries housing Syrian refugees (Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey).

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world.” -Malala Yousafzai, youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

The Drawdown book outlines seven ways and examples of how to improve girls’ education.

1. Make school affordable

The Malala Fund works to eliminate school fees and offset indirect costs of girls’ schooling to keep girls in school all over the world.

Homework is important

2. Help girls overcome health barriers

Girls often miss school for health reasons, which is why deworming treatments are particularly effective in keeping girls in school in developing countries. Additionally, providing girls with sanitary pads helps keep girls in school every day of the month, since girls can miss a week of school each month because they cannot afford sanitary products.

3. Reduce the time and distance to get to school

Providing girls with bikes significantly reduces commute time away from home and allows girls to attend schools farther away.

Providing girls with bikes reduces travel time to school

4. Make schools more girl-friendly

Many teenage girls in developing countries are mothers themselves. By offering child-care programs for young mothers, graduation rates improve.

Education helps girls lift themselves up out of poverty

5. Improve school quality

Investing in more and better teachers improves the outcome of the entire community.

Teachers love apples

6. Increase community engagement

Since factors affecting girls’ education vary between countries and communities, local activists and educators understand the challenges in their communities and work towards solutions.

Education: building blocks for our future

7. Sustain girls’ education during emergencies

In areas impacted by wars and violence, girls are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in areas without violence. The Malala Fund works to provide STEM education to Syrian refugees.

STEM education works for girls

Actions You Can Take Today:

  • Consider donating to the Malala Fund, which champions every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
  • Additional groups investing in girls’ education include:
    • CARE – you can give charitable gifts including scholarships for girls to attend secondary school and school supplies for girls to return to school
    • Camfed – supporting marginalized girls to go to school
    • For Her, Girl Rising, Mona Foundation