They\’re getting this the wrong way around again.
Admittedly, these potential saviours are not unruly British adolescents but the 283 million girls aged between 10 and 20 who live in poverty in the countryside of the developing world. Study after study has shown that when they are given a better chance – above all, a decent education – something miraculous happens: the number of births in the area falls, while income and food production increase. Yet these same teenagers have long been neglected by their families and aid agencies alike, with the result that their adolescence usually sees their horizons not widening, but shrinking.
No, it\’s not empowering women that creates economic growth. It\’s that economic growth allows the education and empowerment of women.
Going out and teaching them to read and write is all very well, indeed, damn good idea. But it isn\’t that which leads to higher crops, fewer children and all the rest. It\’s that there is a surplus, which allows for the time to become educated.