Educating Women Can Save Children's Live, Study Suggests

    Young mothers learn how to write in India. Educating women is key to improving progress toward the fourth Millennium Development Goal. Photo by: UN

    The fourth Millennium Development Goal, on reducing child mortality, is one of the most off-track of the eight MDGs, as various studies have indicated. A study published recently in the medical journal Lancet suggests a new approach to improving progress toward this goal: educating women.

    “According to a paper in today’s Lancet medical journal, educating girls has another, hugely beneficial effect - it leads directly to a cut in the numbers of deaths of small children,” Sarah Boseley writes in the Guardian’s “Global Health” blog.

    Boseley shares that while the study’s findings may “sound too good to be true,” the research did employ careful analysis of the link between child mortality and women’s education in the last 40 years.

    “They have calculated the relative contribution of a country’s economic growth and allowed for the impact of HIV - and they find that the increased education of women of reproductive age (15-44 years old) between 1970 and 2009 was responsible for half the total reduction in deaths of under-5s,” Boseley explains. “In fact, they say, keeping girls in school longer has saved more than 4 million children’s lives.”

    Boseley notes that aside from presenting a possible new approach to addressing high child mortality rates, the study’s findings also illustrate the interconnection between the Millennium Development Goals.

    “This relationship between education and health and child mortality brings home the nonsense of the silo approach to aid and development in poor countries. There may be eight separate Millennium Development Goals, which will be the subject of next week’s summit at the UN in New York, but arguing that some matter more than others is absurd,” Boseley explains.

    “They are all inter-linked,” she adds.

    Devex News – live breaking news coverage of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sept. 20-22 U.N. MDG summit in New York.

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.