An investment in girls is an investment in society, one that pays real social and economic dividends. When women are educated, the benefits often include more inclusive governments, healthier children and stronger economic growth for all.

Consider this:

Girl sitting with writing paper and pencil in hand (Crista Friedli/Bread for the World)
(Crista Friedli/Bread for the World)

There are many reasons to invest in women and girls, from longer-lasting peace to higher farm yields.

Girl holding two lenses to her eyes (© AP Images)
A girl explores science through convex lenses at a science, technology and engineering camp. (© AP Images)

Investing in girls is smart. USAID estimates that each year of secondary school boosts a girl’s future earning power by roughly 20 percent.

Two girls in headscarfs (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

Educated girls reinvest 90 percent of their future income in their families. The figure for boys is only 35 percent, says Daniel Epstein, co-founder of the Girl Effect Accelerator. That’s why economist Lawrence Summers concludes that “investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.”

President Obama with girls wearing crowns (© AP Images)
Girl Scouts demonstrate for President Obama a “flood-proof bridge” that they designed for a STEM competition. (© AP Images)

Girls’ organizations are getting the message. Today’s Girl Scouts can earn badges in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, along with more traditional Scout badges in hiking, first aid and painting.

Smiling girl in astronaut suit (Facebook)
Alyssa Carson (Facebook)

Where will you find the woman of tomorrow? Maybe on Mars. When she was only 13, Alyssa Carson gave a TEDx lecture promoting space exploration. And now she’s preparing for a Mars mission by learning foreign languages, studying math and science, and helping to build robots at space camps.

Michelle Obama with girls in school uniforms (White House)
Michelle Obama visits with schoolgirls in India. (White House)

Back on Earth, first lady Michelle Obama actively promotes women and girls through Let Girls Learn and other programs. Join the first lady at #62milliongirls.