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PRESS RELEASE December 10, 2018

Report: Disrupting the Gender Divide in Mali, Chad, Niger, and Guinea

BAMAKO, December 10, 2018—With a projected growth rate of 5.9% in Guinea, 5.1% in Mali, 4.9% in Niger, and 3% in Chad in 2018, the sixth edition of the AFCW3* Economic Update published today by the World Bank presents a favorable medium-term economic outlook despite security, climate-related, and social risks. Particularly, the report analyzes the main trends in public debt, which has increased since 2010 due to weak macro-fiscal policies, lack of access to new sources of financing, and external shocks.

Following the recently published regional report on this topic, this biannual publication mainly addresses the economic and social consequences of gender inequality in these countries, specifically those stemming from the early marriage and school dropout of girls.

In Niger, more than three in four girls marry before age 18. In Chad, the proportion is more than two in three. In Mali and Guinea, it is above half. These countries also have some of the lowest secondary school completion rates in the world for girls, with only one in ten completing secondary education, although they have made significant progress in primary education, with a 22.4% increase in the completion rate.

The report notes that although other factors such as education costs or geographic distance from schools may explain this trend, social norms related to the role of girls and early marriage are important drivers. When an adolescent girl has to leave school to get married, her low educational status will produce significant and lifelong effects, in particular on her income and the education of her children. She and her children will also face heightened health risks due to early and repeated pregnancies. The report points out that in Guinea, Mali, and Niger, children born to mothers under age 18 face a greater risk of dying before age five and of stunting.

Gender inequality in education and health problems associated with early marriage pose a major obstacle to human capital development,” says Soukeyna Kane, World Bank Country Director for Mali, Niger, Chad, and Guinea.In addition to addressing the reduction in the potential income of these young girls, it is estimated that fewer child marriages could generate benefits of close to $1.5 billion per year in Mali and $1.7 billion in Niger by 2030, mainly as a result of lower rates of fertility and population growth.

According to the report, adolescence is therefore a critical period during which these four countries must implement additional public policies to ensure that girls remain in school. It presents successful initiatives in other countries and recommends further reforms aimed at changing social norms and providing such economic incentives to parents as more affordable schooling or scholarships for their daughters. It also stresses the importance of reducing travel time in rural areas and installing water and sanitation facilities in schools. Lastly, at the community level, the involvement of men, women, and community leaders is essential to reduce gender disparities.


*AFCW3 represents a group of countries including Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Chad 



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