We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.


Girls' education

© UNICEF/UN061998/Vishwanathan
Adolescent girls attend karate classes as part of the programme in Giridih, a district with one of the highest rates of child marriage in India: 6 out of 10 girls are married before 18.

Education empowers girls to change the world.

Globally, there are more than 1.1 billion girls in the world today. They are part of a vibrant generation poised to take on the future. Investing in their education frees them to reach for their dreams. It allows them to build better lives for themselves and contribute to the health, safety and prosperity of their families, communities and the world. We know that investing in girls secondary education, not just primary, has benefits that change not only families, communities, but economies.

For example:

• If all women had a secondary education, there would be 49 per cent fewer child deaths

• If all women had a secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, child marriage would drop by 64 per cent 

• Investing in girls so they can complete the next level of education could lead to lifetime earnings of up to 68 per cent of annual gross domestic product

Why are girls out of school?

We have made great strides in primary education. But we need to make sure that education does not stop there for girls. Half of the world’s out-of-school children are girls and 32 million girls who should be in lower secondary school are actually out of school.

The reasons are many. Too often families favour boys when investing in education. Poverty compound factors such as child marriage, early pregnancy, child labour, house work, cost and distance keep girls out of school. In addition, some schools do not meet the needs of adolescent girls in terms of safety, available water and sanitary facilities, quality of education or relevance of the curriculum to girls’ lives. Gender-based violence also robs girls of education.

We need to provide every girl with the quality education she needs to succeed in life.

UNICEF’s work to get every girl in school and learning

Getting girls to finish primary education and providing them with fair opportunities to complete secondary school is a priority in UNICEF’s Gender Action Plan.

We help countries build stronger education systems that deliver quality education to boys and girls. This includes removing gender stereotypes from learning materials, teaching teachers about gender, helping schools and governments use learning assessment data, and providing communities with key data so they can hold education systems accountable. Making sure that national education plans and policies consider gender is key to ensuring that girls and boys enter and succeed at school.

Because a third of girls who are out of school live in countries affected by conflict, UNICEF works with government partners to address gender inequities in education in humanitarian settings.

Gender disparities hinder boys’ education, too. In a number of countries, boys are failing to complete lower secondary school. UNICEF is working to identify and address the barriers to boys’ participation, such as gang violence, recruitment into armed forces or groups, the need to seek employment, and migration.

Together with the Global Partnership for Education and United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), UNICEF has helped focus the world’s attention on the gender-based violence girls suffer in schools.



New enhanced search