WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Bank on Wednesday pledged $2.5 billion to educate and empower adolescent girls in low-income countries as a way to improve their well-being and fight poverty.
Speaking at the spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that enabling girls to attend school helps them delay marriage; have fewer, healthier and better educated children; get better jobs and earn money.
The funds will be allocated by 2020 and 75 percent of the money will go mostly to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
"Unleashing the full economic potentials of half the population can drive the growth and prosperity of nations," Kim said. "Investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do for them as individuals. It's also the smart thing to do for economies."
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama praised the initiative. "When we invest in girls' education, when we embrace women in our workforce, that just doesn't benefit them, it benefits all of us," she said at the event. "If we are looking to promote development, then we need to educate and empower women."
Obama is campaigning for educating girls as part of Let Girls Learn initiative that she launched last year together with President Barack Obama.
Let Girls Learn seeks to encourage the leaders of other countries to provide opportunities for education to the estimated 62 million girls around the world who do not attend school. Mrs. Obama has traveled to several countries to promote the initiative.