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Depriving girls of secondary education has cost the Afghan economy at least US$500 million over the past 12 months.

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Kabul, 15 August 2022 – Sending girls to secondary school costs Afghanistan 2.5% of its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a new UNICEF analysis.

If 3 million girls could now complete secondary school and enter the job market, girls and women would contribute at least US$5.4 billion to Afghanistan’s economy.

UNICEF estimates that the non-economic impact of denying girls access to education, including future shortages of female teachers, doctors and nurses, is linked to lower primary school attendance for girls and adolescent pregnancy. It does not take into account effects such as increased healthcare costs. The estimates also do not take into account the wider benefits of education, such as overall educational attainment, reduced child marriage and reduced infant mortality.[i]

Dr Mohammed Ayoya, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative, said: Increased risk of exploitation and abuse, including child trafficking, early and forced marriage. Now, this new analysis clearly shows the horrific economic impact of this decision on the country’s GDP. ”

Even before the Taliban seized power on August 15 last year, more than 4.2 million children in Afghanistan were struggling out of school. 60% of them were girls. The potential costs of lacking education for boys and girls alike are high in terms of lost income, but they are high in terms of educational attainment and girls’ delayed marriage and fertility, participation in the labor force and choices about their own future. For relationships, not educating girls is particularly costly. Invest more in the health and education of your children in the future. Analysis shows that in order for Afghanistan to regain the GDP lost during the transition and achieve its true productivity potential, girls must meet their entitlement to receive and complete secondary education. .

“UNICEF wants all girls and boys across Afghanistan to participate in school and learning,” said Dr Ayoya. “We will not stop advocating until that goal is achieved. Education is not only the right of every child, but the foundation of Afghanistan’s future growth.”

In addition to girls not being able to return to secondary school, UNICEF is also helping adolescent girls get the critical services they need, such as anemia prevention support and menstrual health and hygiene, which UNICEF once provided in schools. I’m having a hard time.

Child malnutrition is also on the rise. In June 2021, 30,000 of her children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in Afghanistan. By June 2022, she had 57,000 children hospitalized, an increase of 90%. Children are forced to work to support their families instead of going to school, the safest place.

In the past 12 months, school-based health and nutrition services provided iron and folic acid supplements to 272,386 adolescent girls. So when an adolescent girl is unable to continue her education, her health suffers.

“Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most complex and multifaceted child crises,” said Dr Ayoya. “This is a pivotal juncture for generations of Afghan children. Girls’ rights are under attack. Their childhoods are marred by deprivation. As we do this, I want to say to the people of Afghanistan that without your trust and support, we would not be doing what we are doing. We would also like to thank our donors and partners for their generosity so far, but we hope that they will continue to provide life-saving assistance to children, especially with winter just around the corner. I strongly recommend it.”


Note to editors:

A note on methodology: The basic idea behind the wage premium is that the economic impact of education at all levels can be measured by the impact of schooling on labor productivity and wages. Observable wage differentials between workers with different levels of education in the labor market can be used to capture the economic benefits of education.

For this analysis, UNICEF used estimates provided in the World Bank’s 2018 study “Managed Labor Migration in Afghanistan”.

For more information, please see the executive summary on page 3 here.

[1] Quentin Wodon, Claudio Montenegro, Hoa Nguyen, Adenike Onagorwa (2018): The cost of not educating girls – a missed opportunity: The high price of not educating girls