They’re your mothers and your daughters, your sisters and your aunts, your cousins and your friends. There are so many reasons to invest in them, beside the fact that you love them. Here are 10:
1. More inclusive government. If you’d like to see less fighting among your elected officials, encourage women to run for public office. According to USAID, countries where women hold at least 30 percent of political seats are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.
2. Improved public-service delivery. The next time you’re frustrated by poor roads or a lack of potable water, vote for a woman. USAID reports that women’s political participation increases cooperation across party and ethnic lines and improves government responsiveness to citizens.
3. Greater farm production. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization found that empowering women farmers with the same access to land, new technologies and capital as men could increase crop yields by as much as 30 percent.
4. Fewer hungry people. When women succeed, society succeeds. Nowhere is that more clear than in food production. In that same report, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a 30 percent crop yield boost means 150 million fewer hungry people.
5. Increased buying power. As onetime World Bank chief economist Lawrence Summers said, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.” Each year of secondary school boosts a girl’s future earning power by roughly 20 percent.
6. Stronger economies. Educating a girl pays dividends for her family once she becomes a woman, and for her country too. According to USAID, when 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases an average 3 percent.
7. Fewer child deaths. Women who are educated are better able to take care of themselves and their children. According to UNESCO, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to live past age 5.
8. Less HIV/AIDS. For UNICEF, education is essential to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS. That’s because girls who are better educated are less likely to engage in casual sex.
9. Fewer conflicts. When women’s lives are valued, their experiences considered and their voices heard, better outcomes prevail. Through its peacekeeping operations, the U.N. has found that when women are included, deadly conflicts can be avoided.
10. More lasting peace. Women have an important role to play in driving reconciliation and reconstruction. According to the U.N., involving women in conflict negotiation and peacebuilding efforts can lead to more widely accepted and durable peace agreements.