Girls’ Education

Poverty and discrimination are huge barriers to girls’ education in many parts of the world.  When families struggle to find the money for school fees, uniforms and books, girls are the ones most likely to miss out since they are often required to stay home to help earn money or care for younger siblings.

  • In 2010, girls made up 53% of the world’s out-of-school children.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are women.

Research has shown that educating girls is one of the most powerful (and cost-effective) ways to change the world.  Ensuring equal education for women and girls creates a ripple effect throughout society.

Educating girls:

  • Boosts economic productivity and reduces poverty
  • Lowers maternal and infant mortality rates
  • Reduces fertility rates
  • Helps protect against HIV/AIDS
  • Increases life expectancy
  • Improves the health, well-being, and educational prospects of the next generation
  • Increases per capita income
  • Contributes to the development and deepening of democracy

Key Facts


  1. For every year beyond fourth grade that girls go to school, wages rise 20 percent.
  2. Educated mothers are more likely to seek pre- and post-natal care, follow doctors’ recommendations, and have births attended by trained personnel.
  3. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5. Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond 5.
  4. A Lancet study found that half of the reduction of child mortality over the past 40 years is due to better education of women.
  5. The children of educated women are more successful in school and are more likely to send their own children to school, creating a cycle that benefits generations.
  6. Girls who stay in school delay sexual activity and have fewer partners, reducing their risk of infection with HIV.
  7. Women with post-primary education are five times more likely than illiterate women to know the facts about HIV and AIDS.
  8. When an educated woman’s income increases, she will reinvest 90 percent of that money in her family, compared to 30-40 percent for a man.
  9. Had the world achieved gender parity at the primary level in 2008, an additional 3.6 million girls would have been in primary school.

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