Girls’ education | ActionAid UK

Girls’ education


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

32 m
primary-age girls are missing school around the world4

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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. 

Trained by ActionAid, the girls are creating positive change within their communities so that they are empowered to challenge abuse like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

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. 

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. 

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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. Find out more about child sponsorship and how it works.


Page updated 24 April 2020