"Educating girls is the battle of our lifetime" said Husain. "An educated girl is 500 times more likely to educate her children. So, we just have to do it once and she will transform the next generations to come."
Somaliland has some of the world's lowest enrolment rates for elementary, junior high and high school so going to university remains a distant dream for most Somali girls. However, a new all-female university is benefiting from private investment. In September, Jonathan Starr opened Barwaaqo University for Women in the capital Hargeisa. The university is modeled on Starr's
successful Abaarso School, funded in part by Wall Street donors. Teachers are trained so that they also serve as role models and encourage younger Somali girls to continue their education.
Starr said: "Barwaaqo University offers donors the opportunity to fund a student's journey to self-sufficiency and ultimately well beyond that to becoming an impactful leader in society.
"Many donors consider Abaarso School and Barwaaqo University to be tremendous deals, as they can achieve that kind of impact for under $2,000 per student per year.
"Abaarso School has accepted full-scholarship students for a few crucial years and then helped those talented individuals go on to $300,000 worth of international scholarships. Our donors are very attracted to that kind of leverage."
Barwaaqo University plans to expand and open faculties of business, IT, nursing and engineering in future years, enabling Somali women to build their country's infrastructure and contribute to the economy.
Figures show that if every country boosted the number of women in the workplace to match the progress toward gender parity of its fastest-improving neighbor, global GDP could increase by $12 trillion within a decade.
UBS believes that partnerships, rather than investors going it alone, increase the scale of impact in order to meet the SDG's 2030 deadline for its 17 gender equality and female empowerment goals.
UBS is also placing women at the heart of its own strategy. Two years ago, the bank launched UBS Unique specifically for its wealthy female clients, recognizing that they have different needs and values. The bank has also collaborated with photographer Annie Leibovitz and singer Joss Stone to celebrate inspiring women.
With so much investment potential and GDP growth at stake, educating women is considered a high priority and worthwhile effort in 2018 and beyond.
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