Eradicating all barriers to girls’ development will be pivotal
in post-COVID recovery and attainment of UN SDGs
Emerging economies that achieve 100% secondary school completion
rates for girls by 2030 could see their GDP being boosted by an
average of 10%, according to a new report by Citi Global
Insights and Plan International.
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The report, The Case for Holistic Investment in Girls -
Improving Lives, Realizing Potential, Benefitting Everyone,
reveals that a total investment of just $1.53 per day per girl in
emerging economies would have a huge impact on countries’ overall
More than 130 million girls worldwide were out of school before
the COVID-19 crisis. According to UNESCO, over 11 million girls may
not go back after the crisis.
Adolescent girls everywhere, but especially in developing
economies, encounter barriers in accessing and completing quality
education, becoming economically independent, participating in the
labour force, and living a healthy life free from violence.
“COVID-19 recovery plans that prioritise investment in girls’
education and well-being will help communities and economies build
back better and stronger,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen,
CEO of Plan International. “But importantly, this must be
comprehensive investment not just in education itself, but in
dismantling all the various barriers to girls’ empowerment, from
child and early forced marriage to gender-based violence and early
pregnancy. As we can see from this study, holistic investment in
all areas of girls’ lives will result in increased GDP, a high
return on investment for countries and a more just world.”
Even greater economic returns would materialise beyond 2030,
thanks to the cumulative effects of the benefits, and taking into
account the impact educating girls will also have on families and
“The special value of the collaboration between Citi and Plan
International comes through bringing together the economic and
social case, and presenting a solid multi-component investment
case,” said Andrew Pitt, Global Head of Research Citi.
“Eradicating barriers to girls’ education and development may
hold the key to achieving many of the UN Sustainable Development
Goals,” he added.
This report brings together the diverse expertise of Citi Global
Insights and Plan International and features three key
- a deep dive into the complex barriers that adolescent girls
face, and what interventions are required to overcome them;
- an original economic analysis of the potential costs of an
intervention package and the economic benefits that could be
achieved through this; and
- recommendations on how different sectors can come together to
effectively tackle the barriers that are holding adolescent girls
A major challenge to research over the years has been a lack of
high-quality and inclusive data. Citi and Plan International have
partnered to address this crucial knowledge gap, creating one of
the most holistic data sets yet on the economic and social benefits
of investing in adolescent girls and young women.
The UN has encouraged the development of collaboration between
the private sector, the public sector, NGOs and philanthropic
institutions in pursuit of the SDGs. This research confirms the
benefits of such positive inter-disciplinary collaborations.
The report concludes that investing in the development of
adolescent girls will have positive implications across the global
goals beyond SDG 5 – gender equality – and is in fact key to
achieving sustainable development overall. The importance of girls’
education and empowerment has been linked to several SDGs including
reducing conflict, achieving clean water and sanitation as well as
tackling climate change.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Return on investment:
- The study looked at the total cost of interventions compared to
the economic returns that can be generated, and deduced a 2.8x
return on investment. This figure specifically relates up to and
including the year 2030. If the results were extended beyond 2030,
it can be estimated that any return on investment would increase
- The study compared investing in girls as a return on investment
with alternate investments, including infrastructure. It was
deduced that the infrastructure return on investment in these
countries would be 2x, which as a benchmark is a rate considered
worthy of investment.
Key Statistics Relating to Girls
- 132 million girls worldwide are out of school, which includes
almost 100 million girls of secondary school age (UNESCO).
- More than 85% of girls in low-income countries do not complete
secondary school (UNESCO).
- 15 million girls of primary school age (half of them in Sub
Saharan Africa) will never enter a classroom (UNESCO).
- Intimate Partner Violence affects an estimated 29% of girls
aged 15-19 worldwide (WHO).
- Globally, 1 in 5 women were married before their 18th birthday
(UN Children’s Fund).
- Almost 1 billion (64%) girls and young women under 24 are
currently lacking key skills that they need for life and work. In
lower-middle income countries, this translates into 75%, and rises
to 93% for low-income countries (Malala Fund).
- 90% of countries have at least one law that restricts economic
equality for girls and women (World Bank).
About Citi GPS
Citi is one of the world’s largest financial institutions,
operating in all major established and emerging markets. Across
world markets, our employees conduct an ongoing multi-disciplinary
global conversation — accessing information, analysing data,
developing insights, and formulating advice for our clients.
As our premier thought leadership product, Citi Global
Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS) is designed to help our
clients navigate the global economy’s most demanding challenges,
identify future themes and trends, and prosper in a fast-changing
and interconnected world.
Citi GPS accesses the best elements of our global conversation
and harvests the thought leadership of a wide range of senior
professionals both across the firm and across various academic
institutions. For more about Citi GPS go to
About Plan International
Plan International is an independent development and
humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and
equality for girls.
We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this
is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and
discrimination. And it’s girls who are most affected. Working
together with children, young people, our supporters and partners,
we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the
challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.
We support children’s rights from birth until they reach
adulthood. And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to –
crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at
local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and
We have been building powerful partnerships for children for
over 80 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.
version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201026005917/en/
Francesco Meucci VP Public Affairs, Citi Research
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 2075080717
Miranda Atty Global Press Officer, Plan International
Miranda.email@example.com +44 7989065738
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