With her: a Skilled #GirlForce

Girls’ full participation requires tackling gender stereotypes

With her: a Skilled #GirlForce

15 October 2018
Link to video on it's hosted site.
UNICEF Niger/Islamane Abdou

Girls’ education does not only bring the immediate benefit of empowering girls, but is seen as the best investment in a country’s development. Educated girls develop essential life skills, including self-confidence and the ability to communicate, negotiate and participate effectively in society.

Girl’s education also helps cutting children and maternal mortality rates, contributing to national wealth and controlling disease and health status. Children of educated women are more likely to go to school and, consequently, this has exponential positive effects on education and poverty reduction for generations to come.

To have a skilled GirlForce, we must support girls to develop as many skills as possible

Niger has made significant progress since 2001 in expanding access to education. In 2016 the gross enrolment ratio in primary education stood at 76% (compared to 35% in 2001) while in lower secondary education it was about 34%.  

Nevertheless, Niger’s education system continues to face severe internal efficiency, quality, and exclusion issues. In 2016, the completion rate for primary education was 78% but dropped to 19% for lower secondary education.

In terms of equity, significant disparities remain unsolved in Niger. Girls continue to face extremely reduced chances to access education. For thousands of girls, childhood and adolescence are cut short by marriage. UNICEF estimates that around 3 in 4 young girls were married before the age of 18, and 1 in 4 before the age of 15.

Girls’ full participation requires tackling gender stereotypes

UNICEF works across sectors to support strategies that promote girls’ education and address child marriage. For example, UNICEF supports the development of laws and policies, and works to strengthen systems which make enforcing child marriage prohibition laws more feasible. The organization also works with communities to address the social norms that allow child marriage to perpetuate.

In 2017, UNICEF took a leading role in organizing a roundtable on girls’ education leading to the adoption by the government of a decree in December 2017 for the protection of the girl-child in school to guarantee access and retention until age 16.

Every single girl has the right to have every skill available to succeed

On 11 October, International Day of the Girl, we are working alongside all girls to expand existing learning opportunities and chart new pathways.


Under the theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, International Day of the Girl marks the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to highlight, advocate for and invest in girls’ most pressing needs and opportunities.


To develop A Skilled GirlForce, we should:


  • Rapidly expand access to inclusive education and training.
  • Improve the quality and gender-responsiveness of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop foundational and transferable skills for life.
  • Change gender stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning opportunities as boys.
  • Form strategic partnerships with governments and private companies which can act as thought leaders and financiers, helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce.