Impact of investments in female education on gender inequality and women’s empowerment

Rohini P. Pande, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Anju Malhotra, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Caren Grown, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

While the social and familial benefits of educating women are well-understood, the case for education serving as a catalyst for women’s own wellbeing is less clearly established. This paper reviews 117 studies from the developing world to assess whether, how, and under what conditions women’s education improves women’s lives and decreases gender inequality. We examine the relationship of education to twelve demographic, social and economic outcomes that assess women’s health and wellbeing, position in family and society, and economic opportunities and returns. Our review indicates that education is a necessary but not sufficient investment for achieving gender equality or improving women’s lives. Rather, several underlying social and economic conditions need to be favourable for female education to have a positive impact on women’s wellbeing. Finally, while primary schooling may be enough to improve child health or overall development, for women’s own lives and to reduce gender inequality, secondary female education is critical.

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Presented in Session 3: Schooling