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UN Girls’ Education Initiative reaffirms the need for education to be central to improving the lives of women and girls

NEW YORK, USA, 7 March 2011 – This year, International Women's Day focuses on the theme: "Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”. With one in five girls in developing countries who enroll in primary school failing to finish, it is clear that without progress in education, too many girls will be denied the chance to realize their potential.

Today, we can celebrate the extraordinary gains made by women and girls, but gender disparities continue to hamper progress. Had the world achieved gender parity at the primary level education in 2008, there would have been an additional 3.6 million girls in primary school today. With over 35 million girls out of school, the need to accelerate progress has never been greater. 

The cascading effects of educating girls are indisputable and gender disadvantage is costing lives. If the average child mortality rate for sub-Saharan Africa were to fall to the level associated with women who have had some secondary education, there would be 1.8 million fewer deaths.

Education is a powerful tool to help girls protect themselves against abuse, violence, disease, early marriage, and break the cycle of poverty.  However, girls face many challenges in accessing education. 

In countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, too many cultures still regard the rights of women and girls as secondary. This can be seen in persistent wage gaps and unequal opportunities, in low representation of women in the political landscape as well as cultural barriers that promote inequality and exploitation.

UNGEI calls on the global community to step up the momentum.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our actions and investments in ensuring a quality education for every girl and boy so that they can work together for an inspiring future. 


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