Girls Education

There are 131 million girls worldwide out of school 15. Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be excluded from primary school 16. That means that 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys 17.



Early marriage and pregnancy



Menstrual cycle

Girls who become pregnant at an early age often find themselves unable to attend school, even when they want to after childbirth. One third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15 18.

In developing countries, rural girls are twice as unlikely to attend school as urban girls 19. This is because in remote or rural areas, there is often a greater prevalence of social and cultural barriers, labour requirements and the distance that keep girls out of school.

Poverty forces many families to choose which of their children to send to school. Girls often miss out due to belief that there is less value in educating a girl than a boy. Instead, they are sent to work or made to stay at home to do domestic chores, or are married off.

Many girls do not turn up to school during their menstrual cycle, or drop out of school altogether once they start menstruating. Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss 20% of their school year once they start menstruating due to lack of appropriate menstrual hygiene education or toilet facilities 20.

Girls who are out of school are more vulnerable to early marriage, teen pregnancy, child labor, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking. An uneducated woman is less empowered to make decisions about her body and her life, and is at higher risk of maternal complications and death, while her children are more likely to be malnourished and die in infancy.

Armed with an appreciation of the importance of education and the means to support her children through school, the cycle of poverty could be broken and all future generations could benefit from the education of just one girl.

If all women completed secondary education there would be…


15 UNESCO, ‘Global Education Monitoring Report Policy Paper 32/FACT SHEET 44: Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

16 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, ‘UIS/GEM Report Policy Paper 27’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

17 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, ‘UIS/GEM Report Policy Paper 27’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

18 International Centre for Research on Women, ‘Facts and figures on child marriage’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

19 International Centre for Research on Women, ‘Facts and figures on child marriage’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

20 UNESCO, ‘Good Policy and Practice in Health Education’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

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