Global issues affecting women and girls

Girls and education

Currently 75 million children, of whom 41 million are girls, do not go to primary school. Education International reports that women and girls face particular obstacles that keep them out of education, including:

  • violence on the way to school, in and around schools;
  • early pregnancy and early marriage;
  • vulnerability to the HIV epidemic,
  • discrimination based on gender stereotypes in the wider community and at schools;
  • school fees, which may mean that parents send their boys and not their girls to school; and
  • lack of gender sensitive quality education especially in rural areas.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) state that education is especially significant for girls and women. This is true not only because education is an entry point to other opportunities, but also because the educational achievements of women can have ripple effects within the family and across generations. Investing in girls' education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Investments in secondary school education for girls yields especially high dividends. Every one-percentile growth in female secondary schooling results in a 0.3 percent growth in the economy. Yet girls are often not educated in the poorest countries.

Girls who have been educated are likely to marry later and to have smaller and healthier families. Educated women can recognise the importance of health care and know how to seek it for themselves and their children. Education helps girls and women to know their rights and to gain confidence to claim them. However, women's literacy rates are significantly lower than men's in most developing countries.

The "Send My Sister" to school campaign

The Send My Sister to School campaign, organised by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) was launched for 2011 to highlight the barriers to education for girls and women. The GCE is inviting UK pupils to become global active citizens and speak out for the education of girls.
Every extra year that a girl gets in school has a great impact on her future. It helps her earn more to escape poverty, keeps her safe from HIV/AIDS, and reduces the risk that her child will die in infancy.

Each year millions of teachers and students from around the world remind their leaders of the important promise they made to get every child into school by 2015.
A free resource pack, including a DVD, posters and stickers, plus lesson plans, films and lots more information is available on the website.

Resources on other global issues affecting women and girls