Girls’ education, explained

If you’re familiar with ONE, then you’re probably familiar with the current campaign to put 130 million girls back into school. Whether it’s due to cost, culture, or violence, girls are overwhelmingly denied an education. Putting girls in school means so much more than getting an education – it means putting an end to poverty, empowering communities and saving lives.

Over 130 million girls are out of school.

This number represents the total amount of girls out of both primary and secondary school in the world today. While some sources have reported 63 million, this number is only for primary and lower secondary school aged girls, and does not include upper secondary – or as we refer to it, a full 12 years of quality education.  Access to secondary education is key from both an education and gender perspective.

Girls denied access to secondary education face greater consequences – they are disproportionately more likely to get married and have children at a younger age, which leads to elevated health risks for both mother and child. In sub-Saharan Africa if child mortality rates were to fall to the level for children born to women with secondary education it could mean the lives of 1.2 million children under five could be saved each year. The Malala Fund also recognizes the importance of secondary education and has consequently made a full 12-year education their mission. With a higher degree of education, women are able to advocate for themselves more efficiently, gain an increased independence and pave the way for future female generations.

Students outside Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

Students outside Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

Girls face far more barriers to access education.

Girls are denied an education not for a lack of trying. Their access to school is often limited by the threat of violence, their culture or the cost of an education. While ONE values the education of all children, ONE also recognizes that the consequences of a girl not having an access to education are far greater because of her gender. These consequences go beyond educational growth or professional opportunities and stem toward health risks as well.

When we educate girls, we empower them to transform their communities.

Studies show that investing in girls’ education affects more than just their lives, it helps break the cycle of intergenerational extreme poverty. Just a single dollar invested in an additional year of schooling, particularly for girls, generates earnings and health benefits of $10 in low-income countries. Educating girls has multiplier effects, meaning an educated girl is far more likely to invest her income back into her family than her male counterpart. Ultimately, investing in girls ‘education is crucial to the fight against extreme poverty and gender equality.

ONE Campus member Ali delivering READ Act petitions. Source:

The READ Act was passed into law.

One of the biggest accomplishments in ensuring girls’ education thus far is the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act being signed into law on September 12, 2017. The bill was introduced to Congress by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) in early 2017. Due to the hard work of ONE advocates across the United States and Congressional support, this bill will aim to provide quality education to children affected by conflict, increase transparency with existing education programs and partner with affected countries to ensure sustainable and long lasting solutions.

Over 130 million girls need your help TODAY. Sign the petition and let your voice be heard.