THE BLOG
10/05/2011 10:26 am ET Updated Dec 03, 2011

Invest In A Girl And Change the World

Given the choppy economic environment, a lot of people are asking what's the best place to invest. If you have high interest debt (or heck, pretty much any debt), paying that off is a great deal. It gives you a guaranteed return on whatever your interest rate is.

But what if you want to make a bigger impact? What if you have some extra cash and are frustrated with the returns available in savings accounts and cash equivalents? I'd like to suggest... investing in a girl.

Consider the following amazing ripple effects of helping increase the global access to education for girls (source: The Girl Effect):

  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 percent-40 percent for men.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10-20 percent. An extra year of secondary school ups those wages by 15-25 percent.
  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Yet of the world's 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.

There is a long history of girls and women being overlooked. As The Girl Effect points out, "for millions of girls across the developing world, there are no systems to record their birth, their citizenship, or even their identity."

Why should you care?

WATCH
this video. It quite literally could change your life and the course of the world.

As the Coalition For Adolescent Girls highlights, investing in girls starts a virtuous cycle that reduces poverty, AIDS, hunger... and perhaps even war.

Give a girl a chance to go to school, to get a loan to start a small business, earn money, use that money to improve the healthy and hygiene of her community, and inspire women and men around her to do the same. Think I'm dreaming? Watch the original Girl Effect video. What do you think?

Created by The Nike Foundation with critical financial and intellectual contributions by the NoVo Foundation and in collaboration with partners such as the United Nations Foundation and The Coalition for Adolescent Girls, The Girl Effect is changing history.

The key to significant social and economic change in developing countries... is investing in girls. Why? Because when a girl has education, a support system and her voice can be heard, she will transform the lives of everyone around her.

Studies show that when you improve a girl's life, you improve the lives of her brothers, sisters, parents, and beyond.

The Girl Effect is about encouraging all of us to help girls help themselves--and over the long run all of us make this a better world. You can learn more, make a donation, or follow The Girl Effect on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Go ahead, invest in a girl and change the world.

You can follow personal finance expert & author, Manisha Thakor on Facebook at /ManishaThakor or visit her website, ManishaThakor.com.