Girls' education (2023)

This page looks at why girls and young women miss out on school - even though educating girls has huge benefits for health, prosperity and security. This page explains more about the impact of a safe, quality education for girls and examines the barriers that prevent them from getting an education.

The issue of girls and education

Girls have the right same right to education as boys. Educated girls can make informed choices – and from a far better range of options. Educating girls saves lives and builds stronger families, communities and economies.

An educated female population increases a country’s productivity and fuels economic growth. Some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys.

Despite this, girls and young women in many parts of the world miss out on school every day. Around 61 million girls are of school, according to UNICEF in 2016 – 32 million girls of primary school age and 29 million of lower secondary school age.

Often, girls are marginalised and are out of school simply because they are girls and it is not the cultural norm. Their chances of getting a quality education are even smaller if they come from a poor family, live in a rural area or have a disability.

Girls are four times more likely to be out of school than boys from the same background. The poorest girls also have the least likelihood of completing primary school.

There are often legal, religious and traditional practices that discriminate against girls having the chance to get an education.

(Video) Girls Education in the Developing World | Wanda Bedard | TEDxMontrealWomen

What progress has been made on girls' education?

There has been improvement in gender equality in education. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of girls for every 100 boys in primary education rose from 92 to 97 and from 91 to 97in secondary education.

The number of countries that achieved gender parity in both primary and secondary education from 2000 to 2015 increased from 36 to 62. But the overall improvement does not tell the full story. Some parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, are not making as much progress.

Only two of 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have equal numbers of girls and boys in school – the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity – according to the Education Commission’s Learning Generation report in 2016.

In South and West Asia, 80% of out-of-school girls are unlikely ever to start school, compared to just 16% of boys.

Many countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, have seen attacks on girls’ education and threats to close down schools.

(Video) Educating girls - BBC News

The world has committed to continue to make progress through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 4 aims to “ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education”. Goal 5 is focused on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

"Every girl, no matter where she lives, no matter what her circumstance, has a right to learn. Every leader, no matter who he or she is or the resources available to him or her, has a duty to fulfil and protect this right." Malala Yousafzai, Student, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, in the foreword to the research report 'What Works in Girls' Education

Why is educating girls so important?

Every child has a right to learn and get a good quality education, regardless of gender, where they live or their circumstances.

Because educated girls can make informed choices from a far better range of options, educating girls saves lives and builds stronger families, communities and economies. With an education, girls will understand their rights, have a greater sense what is needed to support health and wellbeing, and they will have greater opportunities to be employed in a fulfilling way and achieve their full potential.

Here are just some of the benefits of giving girls an equal opportunity to be educated:

  • Economic growth

Education for girls and boys increases productivity and contributes to economic growth. Globally, women are not in the formal job market as much as men but many studies show there are economic benefits if they are allowed to join the labour force.

Educating girls and young women increases a country’s productivity and contributes to economic growth. Some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys.

A woman with an education can get a better job with higher wages and has the effect of addressing gender imbalances in the labour force. Increased levels of education have a greater positive impact on women’s wages.

According to an International Labor Organization report, “Educating girls has proven to be one of the most important ways of breaking poverty cycles and is likely to have significant impacts on access to formal jobs in the longer term.”

  • Health knowledge saves children’s lives

A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five. Over the past four decades, the global increase in women’s education has prevented more than four million child deaths.

Educated mothers are better informed about sanitation, nutrition and immunisation for their children, leading to fewer child deaths from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria or from malnutrition.

  • Smaller and more sustainable families

Girls’ education helps reduce population growth. Educated women have fewer pregnancies and are also less likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

(Video) Regency Era Girl's Education: Homeschooling or Boarding School?

In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the birth rate among girls with secondary education is four times lower compared to those with no education.

  • Reduced infection rates for HIV/AIDS and malaria

When researchers analysed the declining HIV/AIDS infection rate in Zimbabwe from 29% of the population to 16% from 1997 to 2007, they found that high levels of girls completing secondary education was an important factor in making awareness campaigns and efforts to reduce infection by partners more effective.

Better-educated girls and women are also more likely to use techniques to prevent malaria, such as using bed nets, and are less likely to become infected.

  • Fewer girls in child marriages

Girls who are better educated are less likely to be married as children and are more likely to have opportunities for a healthier and more prosperous life for themselves and their families.

Across 18 of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry as children than girls with a secondary education.

  • Better prepared for natural disasters and climate change

Higher levels of education generally help prepare families for coping with shocks. Girls’ education in particular is associated with reduced injury and death and increased family and community resilience from the hazards of natural disasters and extreme weather that results from climate change.

A 2010 World Bank study of developing countries from 1960 to 2003 found that countries with higher levels of female schooling were less likely to suffer high rates of death, injury, and displacement due to weather disasters.

  • More control over their lives

When girls go to school, they grow into women who have more say over their lives and have an increased sense of their worth and capabilities. They are less likely to be subjected to domestic violence and will participate more in decision-making in households.

  • More skills to be leaders

Education helps women to gain the skills needed to take on leadership roles at local and national levels. Better-educated women are more likely to join bodies, whether volunteer or elected, where they can take part in making decisions that affect their lives and those of their communities.

What are the barriers to girls' education?

They include:

  • Poverty and child labour

Girls from the poorest and rural households face the greatest disadvantages because parents are less educated and therefore may value education less. Rural communities have fewer support systems, often forcing girls to work or manage their household.

(Video) Every girl deserves an education

Many girls begin working as early as five years old – mainly in agriculture or in homes as domestic servants. Child domestic workers have limited or no access to education as employers often do not allow them to enrol in school.

  • Caring for relatives

Women and girls disproportionately share the burden and care of ill family members and relatives. This affects not only whether they can attend school but also the time and energy they can devote to schoolwork.

  • Water and sanitation

Due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, poor girls can spend six hours each day collecting water, leaving little time for school. Those girls who do go to school often drop out when they start to menstruate because there is no safe place to keep clean at school.

  • Conflict and emergencies

Girls living in conflict-affected countries are 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in peaceful areas. Schools can be destroyed in conflict situations, while targeted attacks on girls’ schools can make parents afraid to send their daughters to school. In humanitarian emergencies, including natural disasters, increased poverty for families and lack of employment opportunities means girls are at higher risk of early marriage or ending up in prostitution.

  • Child marriage

Every year 15 million girls under the age of 18 become wives – an average of 40,000 every day. Marriage interrupts and ends girls’ education so they don’t gain the skills that could lift them out of poverty – over 60% of child brides in developing countries have no formal education. Many cannot return to school after marriage because they cannot afford to pay school fees. Child marriage also means girls have early and frequent pregnancies, which contributes to higher rates of girls dropping out of school.

  • Pregnancy

Each year about 16 million girls between 15 and 19 give birth. Stigma, lack of support and discriminatory laws around pregnancy exclude girls from school, forcing them to stay at home and care for their children. Childcare and flexible school programmes or adult classes are not available to them.

  • Disability

Globally between 93 million and 150 million children live with a disability. The World Health Organization and the World Bank estimate that in some countries “being disabled more than doubles the chance of never enrolling in school”.

Girls with disabilities face discrimination both because of their gender and their disability, making them among the most marginalised groups of children. Respondents to the World Health Survey 2002-2004 indicated that 41.7% of girls with a disability completed primary school compared to 52.9% for those without a disability.

Useful links

What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment:Read the research reporton the Brooking Institution website.

United Nations Girls Education Initiative: Moreinformation about the issue and the efforts to address it.


Why is it important to educate girls? ›

Uneducated girls are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, early pregnancy and other health complications. If all girls received 12 years of education, the frequency of early births would drop by 59% and child deaths would decrease by 49%.

Is education useful for a girl why why not justify your answer? ›

Education provides us with the skills to make ourselves capable of offering services to others and earning a livelihood. If women become educated and earn for themselves then they don't have to depend on their family for anything. This builds their confidence and makes them take their decision on their own.

What is the main idea of female education? ›

Both individuals and countries benefit from girls' education. Better educated women tend to be more informed about nutrition and healthcare, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and their children are usually healthier, should they choose to become mothers.

What Malala thinks about girls education? ›

Malala Yousafzai is a girls' education activist and the co-founder and board chair of Malala Fund. In 2014, she received the Nobel peace prize in recognition of her efforts to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Why is it important to empower girls? ›

Empowering women is essential to the health and social development of families, communities and countries. When women are living safe, fulfilled and productive lives, they can reach their full potential. contributing their skills to the workforce and can raise happier and healthier children.

What are three benefits to society for educating girls? ›

Here are the top reasons and advantages of girl child education :
  • Gender equality. ...
  • Reduce human trafficking. ...
  • Increased literacy. ...
  • Educating girls improves a country's social and economic well-being. ...
  • Increased earning power. ...
  • Provides strength for the girl child. ...
  • Raising future generations. ...
  • Increased child survival rate.
Oct 6, 2022

Why do girls lack education as compared to boys? ›

They are shut out of education because of discrimination, poverty, emergencies and culture. These girls have the same hopes and dreams as boys. They want to learn, fulfill their potential, work and help their families and communities. But too often they are treated as second-class.

Why do girls do better than boys in education? ›

Teachers may unwittingly reward students exhibiting traditionally female behaviour, such as quietness and neatness, which makes life easier for the teachers, the researchers suggest. Girls are routinely given more generous grades in class than boys with the same academic abilities, according to a new study.

Why education is important for female five benefits? ›

Increase in the level of female education improves human development outcomes such as child survival, health and schooling. Lower female education has a negative impact on economic growth as it lowers the average level of human capital.

What are the challenges of girl child education? ›

To protect future generations, we must first invest in resources and policies that help prevent the obstacles below.
  • Cost.
  • Child Marriage.
  • Menstruation.
  • Household Chores.
  • Gender-Based Violence.
  • Conflict and Crisis.
  • Trafficking.
Sep 24, 2019

What is the conclusion of girls education? ›

Women will be able to get proper education, skills development, financial independence, etc. They can also contribute well towards shaping an improved society for themselves and future generations too. The economic growth of the country will significantly improve after educating women.

What are the problems of women's education? ›

Problems of Women Education

Educated women are not respectful to their husbands. ii. Educated women are irreligious and do not encourage their children to be religious. iii.

What is the main message of Malala speech? ›

Malala's central message is that no matter what the obstacles — whether they be economic, cultural or social — everybody is entitled to a quality education as a human right. In the words of the young activist: “Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.

Who is Malala's inspiration for taking her education seriously? ›

With my father, who has always been my ally and inspiration, I established Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses.

How many girls are denied education? ›

There are 130 million girls who are completely missing out on school. These are "the most marginalised and hardest to reach", says Ms Gillard. She chairs the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which raises funds in the developed world to support education in about 70 poorer countries.

What are three 3 benefits of empowerment? ›

What are the benefits of employee empowerment?
  • Higher productivity and creativity. Empowerment aims to create an independent staff involved in decision-making. ...
  • More motivated employees. ...
  • Better business. ...
  • Enhanced customer experience. ...
  • Boosted reputation. ...
  • Higher trust in leadership. ...
  • Dead-time reduction. ...
  • Enriched work culture.
Jan 16, 2023

What makes a woman truly empowered? ›

Women's empowerment has five components: women's sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social ...

What happens when girls are empowered? ›

Empowered girls mean healthier families.

And closing the gap in the unmet need for family planning for the 225 million girls and women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but aren't using modern contraception would reduce maternal deaths by 67% and newborn deaths by 77%.

What is the most important thing we should teach girls today? ›

“The most important thing we should teach young girls today is leadership” .

Why is educating girls the best way to end poverty? ›

Here are six reasons why educating women and girls is the key to decreasing poverty and improving lives.
  1. Educating women limits human and sex trafficking. ...
  2. Educating mothers prevents malnutrition and illness. ...
  3. Educating girls promotes safe sex and family planning. ...
  4. Education encourages women to marry later.
Oct 20, 2021

Why is it difficult for girls to educate? ›

The reasons are many. Barriers to girls' education – like poverty, child marriage and gender-based violence – vary among countries and communities. Poor families often favour boys when investing in education. In some places, schools do not meet the safety, hygiene or sanitation needs of girls.

Why many girls do not complete their education? ›

The shortage of safe, separate and private sanitation and washing facilities is one of the leading factors preventing girls from attending school. Girls are often prevented from attending school even when they're eager to so. Many families and cultures tend to favour education for boys.

Which gender is more successful in school? ›

Female students outperform male students in a range of indicators of academic performance. For instance, female students earn higher grades than male students (for a meta-analysis see Voyer and Voyer 2014). The female advantage in grades is particularly pronounced for languages and seems to increase with students' age.

Are females better at school than males? ›

In standardized tests, girls tend to outperform boys in humanities, languages and reading skills, while boys tend to do better in math, but when grades are awarded by teachers, girls do better in all subjects.

Are girls better at learning than boys? ›

States girls outperform boys not only at school and college level but they are outperforming boys at university.

Why all girl schools are better? ›

all girls' schools demonstrate greater academic achievement, score higher on college admissions tests, have more confidence in STEM subject areas, and generally feel more confident and empowered.

What are some points on girls education? ›

1) Girl education is very important for the empowerment of women. 2) It reduces the infant mortality rate since a learned mother will always take good care of her child. 3) Half of the population is of women and educating them will help to attain a socio-economic development of a country.

How can girl child education be improved? ›

Here are five ways to help girls realize their full potential through education.
  1. Put schools where girls can get to them.
  2. Keep girls in school safe.
  3. Train teachers to be gender aware.
  4. Ease the workload of girls at home.
  5. Get rid of obstacles that keep girls out of school.
Mar 22, 2016

What is the biggest challenge to women's education? ›

What are the Primary Obstacles in Educating Girls?
  • Cultural Beliefs and Patriarchal Values. ...
  • Poverty. ...
  • Early Marriage and Pregnancy. ...
  • Conflict, Violence, and Dangerous Journeys to School. ...
  • Menstruation and Female Genital Mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) ...
  • Policy level changes. ...
  • Creating Awareness. ...
  • Encouraging more women teachers.
Dec 13, 2020

What are the impact of female education in society? ›

Poverty Reduction: When women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they go on to participate in business and economic activity. Increased earning power and income combat against current and future poverty through feeding, clothing and providing for entire families.

What are the three biggest issues in education today? ›

Several of the present issues of education are:
  • Government funding for education. On any list of current issues in education, school funding ranks near the top. ...
  • School safety. ...
  • Disciplinary policies. ...
  • Technology in education. ...
  • Charter schools and voucher programs. ...
  • Common Core. ...
  • Standardized testing. ...
  • Teacher salaries.
May 19, 2022

What are the two things that Malala has focused in her speech? ›

I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban. Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced.

What key social issues does Malala focus on in her speech? ›

Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by both men and women. Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women's rights and girls' education because they are suffering the most.

What are the three main goals of Malala? ›

Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai founded Malala Fund in 2013 to champion every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Why was education so important to Malala? ›

It could be said that education determines the way Malala comes of age: the more she learns, the more she recognizes the value of learning, and the more mature she becomes.

Why did Malala want education? ›

Her mission is to make sure that all girls, despite their race or country of origin, receive a quality and equal education. Malala was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan, located in an area called Swat Valley. In Pakistan, schooling is traditionally only for males.

What did Malala do to fight for education? ›

Malala Yousafzai, (born July 12, 1997, Mingora, Swat valley, Pakistan), Pakistani activist who, while a teenager, spoke out publicly against the prohibition on the education of girls that was imposed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP; sometimes called Pakistani Taliban).

What are the 2 reasons for not sending girls to school? ›

'The different reasons people had for not sending girls to school were: (i) It would prevent them from doing their domestic duties. (ii)'They would have to travel through public places in order to reach school. (iii) People feared that school would take girls away from home.

Why girls are given less priority in education? ›

The parents consider boy as an asset as he would earn in future and would bear the burden of household expenses. Whereas girls are considered a liability because would eventually get married.

Is female education necessary? ›

An educated woman cannot be exploited as easily, as she knows and is aware of her individuality and rights. She will not be easily suppressed. Education of women can also help in eradicating many social evils such as dowry problems that plague all parents, unemployment problem and others.

Should a girl child be educated? ›

Education is very important for every child whether boy or girl. It is sad that some communities still discriminate against the education of the girl child. About 57million children around the world are not going to school, and a greater percentage of them are girls.

Is education important Why or why not? ›

Educating children not only secures their personal life but collectively contributes to the development of a more reliable nation and the world. It can yield a better surrounding in which people can differentiate between right and wrong, know the importance of voting, adhere to laws, and reduce crimes.

Why do girls not have education? ›

Although multiple reasons exist and often are intertwined, poverty, assigned gender roles and traditions, early marriage, forced and domestic labour, human trafficking and hygiene are some of the most pressing issues preventing girls from accessing education.

What will happen if girls are not educated? ›

Girls dropping out of school early are more likely to marry or have children early, before they may be physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. This may affect their own health. It may also affect that of their children.

Do girls learn better in an all girls class? ›

In a learning environment that is free from gender discrimination, girls achieve greater academic success and are more confident.

What are 3 reasons why education is important? ›

Top 10 Reasons: Why Is Education Important?
  • Provides Stability. Education provides stability in life, and it's something that no one can ever take away from you. ...
  • Provides Financial Security. ...
  • Needed For Equality. ...
  • Allows For Self-Dependency. ...
  • 5. Make Your Dreams Come True. ...
  • A Safer World. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • A Part Of Society.

Is education most important in life? ›

Education is most important part of our life. According to me education means knowledge, knowledge of manner and way of doing and understanding every walk of life. Education is a process through which every uncompleted things have completed.

Does education matter in life? ›

The contribution of education in life is obvious when we consider its direct impact on the quality of life. This does not encompass only career success, hard work and economic status, but also the ways one spends their free time. Educated people possess a number of skills that let them enjoy life to the fullest.

Which gender is better at education? ›

Girls do better than boys in almost all subjects at school. Many researchers are concerned about the growing differences in girls' and boys' grades.

What are the two reasons why many girls do not keep continued their education? ›

Poverty and discrimination are the two major reasons why many girls do not continue their education.

Where is it hard for girls to get an education? ›

Afghanistan: wide gender gap, with boys more likely to be in school than girls. Chad: many social and economic barriers to girls and women getting education. Mali: only 38% of girls finish primary school. Guinea: the average time in education among women over the age of 25 is less than one year.


1. The Power of a Female Education | Gwyneth Martin | TEDxYouth@WBAIS
(TEDx Talks)
2. The heavy burden of hope -- girls education in the developing world: Amy Benson at TEDxMonterey
(TEDx Talks)
3. Malala: what Ukraine’s invasion means for girls’ education
(The Economist)
4. Uniting Communities: How Girls' Education Changes Everything | Deborah Brown | TEDxOxford
(TEDx Talks)
5. Benefits of a all-girls' education at St George's private school Edinburgh
(St George's School, Edinburgh)
6. Women’s Education: Girls Learning About the World - Education Series| Academy 4 Social Change
(United 4 Social Change)


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