Washington D.C. – Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, inserted the following statement, as prepared for delivery, into the record today on full Committee hearing “Women’s Education: Promoting Development, Countering Radicalism.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing. And thank you to Rep. Keating who has been a big champion of this issue.
“To our panelists - welcome to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I look forward to hearing your testimony on the important role that educating women and girls plays in promoting development and combating violent extremism around the world.
“Reports indicate that the global gender gap in primary education is closing. But much work remains to be done to ensure that such gains are reflected across all regions. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, girls continue to lag well behind boys in primary education.
“The result has been that 600 million women around the world are illiterate, nearly twice the number of men. In rural Pakistan, only one third of women can read.
“The overall gender disparity is even more pronounced in higher education. According to the 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report, only 2 countries of the 130 measured have achieved gender parity in this area.
“These disparities are very costly for women: they marginalize them politically, reduce their employment opportunities, and increase their vulnerability. President Obama has said that if a country is ‘educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they’re going to fall behind.’ And studies show that he is absolutely correct.
“Every year of primary school boosts a girl’s future wages by 10 to 20 percent, and every year of secondary school increases that earning potential by 15 to 25 percent. The World Bank’s top economist has said that financing women’s education yields the highest rate of return of any investment in the developing world. These facts alone justify the efforts of the United States to promote female education worldwide.
“A recent IMF study also found that if females were working in the same proportion as men, we would see a 34 percent increase in the gross domestic product of Egypt, and a 27 percent increase in India, but also a 9 percent jump in Japan and even a 5 percent increase in the U.S. This is staggering.
“But there is another compelling reason for the United States to support female education around the world: educated women and girls are proving to be some of the most powerful weapons in the fight against violent extremism.
“The Taliban exposed their fear of educated girls when they tried to silence Malala Yousafzai.
“Malala’s incredible example is a reminder that females are ready to lead all over the world when they have the opportunity to go to school. When girls and women are educated, they are better able to combat extremism in their roles as mothers, community members, teachers, and activists. Simply put: the battle for hearts and minds cannot be won without the participation of educated women and girls.
“It is clear that there are numerous tangible benefits to educating women and girls. But we must also remember that the right to an education is a basic, fundamental human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“And yet, too many young girls are still stuck working at home during the school day. Too many are still being forced out of school and into early marriages.
“We must ensure that promoting education for girls and women abroad remains a priority for the United States. As remarkable young women like Malala have demonstrated, when education empowers women to shape their own destinies, extremism is doomed.
“Thank you again to Chairman Royce for holding this hearing. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to hear from our esteemed experts about their important work, and their recommendations for about how Congress can assist their efforts.”