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The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative reaffirms its commitment to empower girls on International Women's Day

NEW YORK, USA, 8 March 2011 – On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative reaffirms its commitment to empower girls through quality education to realize their full potential and contribute to transforming societies.

This year, International Women's Day focuses on the theme: “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”  Today, information technology is one of the fastest expanding sectors offering employment opportunities across the globe and yet girls and women are not acquiring the skills and education necessary to take advantage of these opportunities.

The latest Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) finds that about 17 per cent of the world’s adults – 796 million people – still lack basic literacy skills. Nearly two-thirds are women.

Quality education for girls and women is a critical component in achieving gender equality. The cascading effects of educating girls are indisputable.  Girls who get a quality, basic education are more empowered and better prepared to protect themselves against violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and are less vulnerable to disease, including HIV and AIDS.

Every year of schooling increases a girl’s earning power by 10 to 20 per cent, and the return on secondary education is even higher, 15 to 25 per cent. This enables girls and women to break the bonds of poverty too often passed down through the generations. 

Despite improvements in the gender balance of educational opportunity, labour markets are still characterized by wide inequality in the type of employment and levels of remuneration men and women receive. Education can play an important role in narrowing the gender gaps in labour markets. Governments that tolerate large gender gaps in their school systems are not just depriving girls of a basic right, but also undermining the national economic interest, emphasizes the 2011 GMR.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our actions and investments in ensuring a quality education for every girl for societies where gender equality becomes a reality.

Partner links

AED (Academy for Educational Development)

CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency)

Commonwealth Secretariat

DFID (Department for International Development)

The Education for All Fast-track Initiative (EFA FTI),Whats%20New/

Education For All,Whats%20New/

Campaign for Education

ILO (International Labour Organization)

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund);jsessionid=087EAB3FA2D50F4EF551C4D5CDC12846

UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)

UN Women

UN Secretary-General

USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development)

WFP (United Nations World Food Programme)

World Bank



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