Washington (AFP) – US First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday delivered a strong call for more education for women worldwide as the World Bank announced a new $2.5 billion initiative to foster schooling for girls.
“The evidence is quite compelling: when we invest in girls’ education, when we embrace women in our workforce, that doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits all of us,” said Obama.
Obama, who last year launched her own Let Girls Learn education initiative, was speaking at the Bank’s event to unveil its new funding for education projects for adolescent girls over the next five years.
The funding will go to facilities, scholarships and other needs mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where a large percent of girls aged 12-17 do not go to school.
The $2.5 billion commitment “is 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, their communities and of course their countries,” said Obama.
“Make no mistake about it, these girls are our girls. These girls are our responsibility.”
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said educating girls was a key part of the institution’s anti-poverty mission.
Some 62 million girls around the world, half of them adolescents, are not in school, he noted.
“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,” said Kim.
“It’s the smart thing to do for economies,” he said.