Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; complete all levels of education with the skills to effectively compete in the labor market; learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.
Girls’ education is a strategic development priority. Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty.
According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom.
Poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl can access an education. For example, in Nigeria, only 4 percent of poor young women in the North West zone can read, compared with 99 percent of rich young women in the South East.
Studies consistently reinforce that girls who face multiple disadvantages — such as low family income, living in remote or underserved locations, disability or belonging to a minority ethno-linguistic group — are farthest behind in terms of access to and completion of education.