of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female2
less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education3
primary-age girls are missing school around the world4
- 2. http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girls-factsheet-en.pdf ↩
- 3. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/international-womens-day-2014/women-ed-facts-and-figure/ ↩
- 4. http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girls-factsheet-en.pdf ↩
Education helps girls break out of the cycle of poverty
There is no dispute about the benefits of education, especially for girls.
- A child born to a literate mother is 50 per cent less likely to die before the age of five.
- Every extra year of education is estimated to increase a girl’s earning power by 10 to 20 per cent.
- Girls who have completed seven years of education will marry on average five years later than uneducated girls.
We work with parents, teachers, children, civil society organisations and local authorities to make sure children have essentials like desks, books, food, drinking water and toilets at school.
We ensure that girls’ specific needs around access to sanitary towels and advice on sexual reproductive health are met so that they are able to go to school and stay there.
We push governments to abolish school fees and uniforms to make sure every child can go to school, no matter where they were born. We campaign against tax dodging which starves governments of essential funds to spend on public services like schools.
ActionAid Girls’ Clubs help girls stay in school
Girls’ Clubs offer a safe space for girls to learn about their rights, discuss issues and share experiences. They build girls’ leadership skills so that they can participate in school, at home and in the wider community with confidence.
Girls’ Clubs making a difference in Nigeria
“The more girls we gather together, the more power we have,” declares Simon Abigail, 16-year-old secretary of Manchok Girls’ Club, set up by ActionAid.
“I encourage girls to stay in school for longer. I want to tell politicians in Nigeria how important it is to educate girls, and explain why girls need more help because often their parents will pay the boys’ school fees and not the girls’.”
“There is one girl at school who gave birth to a baby girl and dropped out,” Simon recalls. “I went to speak to her family and now she’s returned to school and joined the Girls’ Club. When I think of her I am hopeful – but we need to keep campaigning.”
Working to end violence against girls
Many girls suffer discrimination at school through violence and prejudice. This results in girls dropping out of school, which perpetuates gender inequality.
We work with local communities to develop specific solutions to protect girls against violence. In the Upper West Region of Ghana, many teenage girls are being violently abducted on their way to school to be forced into child marriage. ActionAid reports more than 50 girls a year are being taken.
Girls are most at risk of attack during the rainy season, when they must walk through fields of long grass to get to school, where attackers can lie in wait.
One initiative ActionAid uses to prevent this happening, with great success, is giving bicycles to girls at risk of forced marriage. The bikes cut down the girls’ long and dangerous route to school, meaning that they are less at risk of abduction, and they don’t have to leave so early in the morning when it is still dark.
Helping girls get to school safely
“My junior high school is a two-hour walk away from Ulkpong, where I live. Without a bicycle I would not be able to get to my lessons,” Carolina says.
Like other girls at risk, Carolina was given an ActionAid bike so that she can get to school quickly and safely.
“Now I go to school every day and I’m doing well in class. I am determined to stay in school and go to training college so that I can become a teacher,” says Carolina with pride.
“Thank you ActionAid for my bicycle!”
Disasters stop children from attending school
For many children, one of the impacts of a disaster is that they are no longer able to attend school, meaning that they miss out on a vital part of their education. One in four of world’s out-of-school children live in crises-affected countries.1
In an emergency, girls especially are at risk of being forced to drop out of school, to help support their families or to marry.
ActionAid helps children to continue to learn in all situations. In Bangladesh, our shelters ensure schools continue during the monsoon, which brings devastating floods to low-lying areas.
Child sponsorship helps keep girls in school
Sponsoring a child helps them get the high-quality education that is their right. It pays for schoolbooks, fees, equipment and making sure they can get to school safely. It can even pay for a whole new school building in the village or town where the sponsored child lives.
By investing in education, children are given the skills and knowledge they need to build a better life for themselves.
Transforming girls’ lives in Zanzibar
Zeinab, 10, lives in Zanzibar. Her mum, Maryam, describes the impact that sponsorship has had on her life.
“Before sponsorship Zeinab was bit reserved. She wasn’t really that energetic, but after she joined the programme, she became so active – interacting with other children, playing and is so cheerful.
Through sponsorship funding a school, a nursery and a hospital were constructed for us. As a community our resources were limited, but now children have a place where they can go.”
Zeinab is benefiting from her education at the school, and has big plans for her future. “I love Swahili as a subject because it’s my language. When I grow up I would like to be a teacher so that I can educate students.”
You may also be interested in…
By sponsoring a child, you'll make sure they get the education they need.
Read our latest blogs about education.
Find out why girls miss out on school when they have their period