Girls’ education | ActionAid UK

Girls’ education


Nine million young girls around the world today will never set foot in a classrom1

Less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education3

132 m
Worldwide, around 132 million girls are out of school4

  • 1.
  • 3.
  • 4.

Education helps girls break out of the cycle of poverty

There is no dispute about the benefits of education, especially for girls.

  • Better-educated women tend to earn more, have better jobs, and invest their earnings into their families. Every additional year of school a woman attends increases her wages by an average of 12 percent.
  • Increasing girls' education reduces infant and maternal mortality. Educated mothers have fewer pregnancies, are less likely to give birth as teenagers, and are better able to access the maternal healthcare they need.
  • Increasing girls' education reduces child marriage. Across 18 of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry as children than girls with a secondary education.
  • Education helps give women the skills they need to take on leadership roles, including political positions. In those roles, they are much more likely to advocate for policies that benefit family and community life, like improved education and social services.1

ActionAid Girls' Clubs help girls stay in school

ActionAid runs Girls’ Clubs in schools, and in community spaces for girls not currently in school. These clubs offer a safe space for girls to learn about their rights, discuss issues and share experiences.

In clubs girls also build their leadership skills so they can speak out in school, at home and in the community with confidence.

Supported by ActionAid, girls are leading their own positive change and challenging the harmful practices that impact girls, like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

  • 1.

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. 

  • 1.

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 21 September 2020