Girls' Education is Key to Fighting Poverty by Wendy Morton MP

Whether you go to school should not depend on your gender. Yet for 130million girls around the world, being female means they miss out on an education.

The number of girls denied basic schooling is staggering - they would make up the tenth largest country in terms of population.

This must end. Not only is this gender division immoral and unjust; it hampers global progress.

It is proven beyond doubt that when girls in the poorest countries go to school, their education improves the health, wealth and stability of not only their communities but their country too.

When a girl is educated, she has more knowledge about and control of family planning, increasing the chances of her deciding when and how many children to have. She is also less likely to catch deadly diseases, and also decreases the chances of her family being infected.

A girl in school is a girl empowered economically. In the world’s poorest countries, every school year attended adds 12% to her income.

On Wednesday 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Addressing the global crisis in girls’ education is something that unites political parties on all continents. Our security depends on it.

That’s why, as MPs, we are marking International Women’s Day at an event the week before, by calling for politicians from around the world to step up and demand 130million girls receive an education. Getting every girl in school would really be something to celebrate.

Education is an investment to give millions of girls and women the same access to a life-changing transformation, helping to lift her, her family, and her country, from poverty.

Not only does an education boost health and wealth, it strengthens security. Denied an education, employment opportunities and empowerment, desperate young poor people make recruitment far easier for extremists.

North-east Nigeria’s Borno State bears this out. Boko Haram have waged a campaign of misery and destruction which has fuelled a major famine in the region. The extremists want girls everywhere banned from attending school. To them education is a threat because it empowers those they seek to control.

Ensuring girls get an education sends a powerful message to extremists - and those who may see no other option but to collaborate with them - that their violence will not win. An education out powers guns and warped ideologies.

The UK leads the way in supporting girls in the world’s poorest places. Now we must encourage other countries to rise to our level. Only with every nation - both rich and developing - pulling their weight and investing in schools and teachers, will we prevent the likes of Boko Haram mentoring the vulnerable.

Though we are speaking at an event in Parliament ahead of IWD, words alone cannot help the 130m girls. We need action - people power by those who understand the risks of failing.

We urge people across the globe to send a direct message to their elected representatives, putting pressure on them to increase investment in girls’ education around the world. We also demand this money is tracked and transparent so it gets to where it’s meant to go.

Poverty is sexist. Demanding governments break down the barriers that prevent girls going to school can end gender injustice, it can help prevent poverty, and it will strengthen global security.

The fight against extreme poverty and for better security starts with getting an education for 130million girls.

Mhairi Black is the SNP MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Ivan Lewis is the Labour MP for Bury South
Wendy Morton is the Conservative MP for Aldridge-Brownhills

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we’ll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you’d like to blog on our platform around these topics, email