Why is educating girls important?
Education builds confidence in girls and offers them opportunities to learn, grow and hope. If girls can graduate from secondary school, that increases their chances of working jobs with better pay than their parents and even looking for greater opportunities. Girls’ education increases their future income, prevents child marriage and decreases their mortality rate.1
Room to Read is a nonprofit that focuses on literacy and girls’ education. They argue in their annual report that “when children are educated, they are healthier. Their job opportunities improve. For every year that they stay in school, their earnings increase by 10 percent. They are more civically engaged and less dependent on social welfare. They are more likely to educate their children and break the cycle of generational poverty.”2 Education empowers children, especially girls.
However, millions of girls worldwide irregularly attend school or even drop out. Without education, many girls remain in cycles of generational poverty. A lack of education impacts girls and their future families.
Why are girls not in school?
The fight to educate girls globally is particularly challenging. UNICEF estimates that 129 million girls worldwide are not in school.1 Young girls leave school to work, help their families and be married. These girls often do not have opportunities to pursue higher education or well-paying jobs. Instead, they may work labor-intensive and even dangerous jobs or be required to stay home. So what are the barriers to educating girls?
- Poverty — Many impoverished families must choose between sending their children to school and paying rent or feeding their family. The financial strain to feed, educate and care for their children can be too much for many families. Some families need their children to work alongside them to supplement their income. Other families sell their children into slavery. Girls may leave school to work alongside their parents, be responsible for household chores or care for their younger siblings.
- Marriage — UNICEF estimates that 12 million girls are victims of child marriage annually.3 Child marriage deprives girls of their childhood. Childhood is a time for physical and mental growth, friendship and play. Child brides may experience early pregnancy, abuse and isolation from their peers; they do not have autonomy. Girls married before 18 often leave school to take care of their homes and even children of their own.
- Menstruation — For many girls worldwide, the beginning of menstruation can mean the end of their schooling. When many girls begin menstruation, it is very difficult for them to attend school because their schools do not have appropriate facilities or the girls do not have sanitary products.4 Many schools do not educate girls about menstruation. It is common for girls as young as 12 in developing countries to leave school and stay home after menstruation begins. Without the appropriate resources to learn about their periods and manage them, many girls fall behind or drop out of school altogether once they are menstruating.
- Violence — Worldwide, girls experience violence like female infanticide, domestic violence, honor killings, female genital mutilation and more. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 3 women has experienced physical or sexual violence.5 Violence affects girls education. Girls experiencing abuse or violence are less likely to attend school.
Why are girls not in school?
Anytime a girl cannot attend school, she does not have opportunities to learn and grow. Girls who regularly attend or complete school are less likely to become victims of child marriage and more likely to have good job opportunities. Education helps empower girls. It is crucial to ask how we can fight for girls’ education and combat these obstacles. Here are some solutions to help girls attend and complete school:
- School supplies — Education is a luxury for many families experiencing poverty and rarely something that is provided for free. To attend school, many girls need appropriate books, uniforms and to pay for tuition. Consider supporting a girl through GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program to help provide basic necessities like school supplies to girls in Asia and Africa.
- Hygiene supplies — Many girls cannot attend school after menstruation begins because they do not have the resources to care for themselves. Menstruation care and sanitation information, menstrual pads and cups and proper facilities are invaluable for young girls. Menstruation supplies help girls handle puberty and remain in school.
- Child sponsorship — GFA World is promoting girls’ education through their child sponsorship program. For $35 a month, you can help give girls opportunities to learn and grow at school. Your faithful contribution helps girls, their families and their communities break the cycle of poverty through community-wide solutions, which may include opportunities for education, medical care, protection against malnutrition, clean water and more. Through sponsorship, girls feel loved, wanted and hopeful.
Please consider sponsoring a girl today!Learn more about child exploitation
1 “Girls’ Education.” UNICEF. Accessed January 2022. https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education.
2 “Room to Read Annual Report 2017.” Room to Read. September 2019. https://www.roomtoread.org/media/o1ve2ukh/room-to-read-annual-report-2017.pdf.
3 “Child Marriage.” UNICEF. Accessed January 2022. https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/.
4 “Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene,”(pp. 35-35). UNESCO. 2014. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000226792.
5 ”Violence Against Women.” World Health Organization. 9 March 2021. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women.