About Us

The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is a partnership of organizations committed to narrowing the gender gap in primary and secondary education. It also seeks to ensure that, by 2015, all children complete primary schooling, with girls and boys having equal access to free, quality education. UNGEI was launched in April 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, by then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in response to a troubling reality: Of the millions of children worldwide who were not in school, more than half were girls – a reality that continues today. 

UNGEI’s work is driven by Millennium Development Goals - MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education with the target to ensure that by 2015 all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling, and by MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women with the target to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education and at all levels by 2015. Understanding that achieving these and the Education for All (EFA) goals and that a special focus on girls would require a concerted effort by all partners, UNGEI became the EFA flagship for girls’ education. In 2010, UNGEI partners reaffirmed their commitment through the Dakar Declaration on Accelerating Girls' Education and Gender Equality.

UNGEI is determined and committed to accelerating action on girls’ education and revitalizing the broad social mobilization and high-level political action that is needed to ensure that every girl, as well as every boy, goes to school. To achieve this, national citizens need to pressure governments and key decision makers to live up to their commitments and take concrete steps forward.

Under the larger umbrella of promoting gender equality, UNGEI works for the removal of barriers to learning, such as school fees and other educational costs, and for access to education in emergency situations. It promotes strategies that give priority to the needs of the most disadvantaged, including girls and women, in education policies, plans and budgets. It also advocates for a cross-sectoral, holistic approach with balanced investment in education across the life cycle, addressing early childhood development and education for children of poor families, as well as literacy and the empowerment of women and young people. 


UNGEI is a partnership of institutions that embraces the United Nations system, donor agencies, international financial institutions, civil society and the private sector, with the aim of bringing more girls to school. As detailed in UNGEI's Governance Framework, the initiative works at global, regional and country levels to ensure that girls receive a quality education that prepares them to be full and active participants in their societies.

The Global Advisory Committee (GAC), of which all UNGEI partners are members, shares in planning, decision-making, guidance and accountability for the entire partnership. Two partners co-chair the committee on a rotational basis, with UNICEF serving as the lead agency and secretariat. Some members of the GAC are also part of UNGEI’s Steering Committee which serves to:

- Provide leadership in the implementation of UNGEI’s strategic directions and collaborative actions;
- Facilitate communication between the GAC and the Secretariat;
- Ensure alignment, understanding and accountability; and
- Facilitate the engagement of GAC members with the partnership.

UNGEI Regional Focal Points (RFPs) in East Asia and the Pacific, Eastern and Southern Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and West and Central Africa facilitate the coordination of girls’ education strategies and interventions at the country level.

Some of the greatest achievements and the greatest challenges in girls’ education partnerships are found at the country level. UNGEI supports country-led development efforts and seeks to influence decision-making and investments in ways that ensure gender equity and equality in national education policies, plans and programmes.

At the national level, UNGEI applies the following standards in determining if a group is a functioning part of the network:

- Terms of reference exist, formalizing the mandate, members and governance of the national (or sub-national) partnership.
- An annual work plan is developed, monitored by the national partnership and reported to the RFP.
- The partnership does not have to use the acronym UNGEI in its name to be considered part of the network.

In order to maximize efforts which are the most needed and which will have the highest impact on girls’ education around the world, UNGEI is focusing policy advocacy efforts on four key strategic priorities:

- An enhanced focus on marginalized and excluded groups;
- The reduction/elimination of school-related gender-based violence;
- Improved learning outcomes for girls; and
- An increased number of girls transitioning to secondary education and accessing post-primary opportunities.


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