"In 1991, Ann Cotton visited Zimbabwe to investigate why girls’ school enrollment in rural areas was so low. What she found surprised her. Contrary to the common assumption that families weren’t sending girls to school for cultural reasons, Ann discovered poverty was the main roadblock. Families couldn’t afford to buy books or pay school fees for all their children, so they had to choose who would receive an education. Girls were rarely chosen. The reason was simple: boys had a better chance of getting a paid job after graduation.
"So Ann wondered: Could an economic solution open school doors to girls? Could it lead to economic, social and cultural benefits for rural Africa?" reads the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) website.
The results, according to the website: "More than 3,000,000 children in the poorest areas of Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe have benefited from our innovative education programs. Investing in girls and women is a proven way to improve the health and wealth of a whole nation.
"In sub-Saharan Africa, 24 million girls can't afford to go to school. A girl may marry as young as 13 and has a one in 22 chance of dying in childbirth. One in six of her children will die before the age of five. Research shows if you educate a girl she’ll:
• Earn up to 25% more and reinvest 90% in her family.
• Be three times less likely to become HIV-positive.
• Have fewer, healthier children who are 40% more likely to live past the age of five."