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Why gender in education?

Learn about the issues and take action

Gender equality in education: a goal worth striving for

The first step to taking action for girls’ education and gender equality is to get informed. Gender equality in education means that all girls and all boys not only have equal opportunities to access and complete their education, but are empowered equally in and through education. As we make progress towards gender equality in education, we unlock progress for sustainable development more broadly - from fairer economies, to more peaceful societies, climate justice and more. 

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How does gender equality in education benefit countries?

The facts

Research shows that educating girls is one of the most powerful ways of breaking cycles of poverty. Education can have positive impacts on women’s wages and access to decent work. Girls’ education improves national productivity and contributes to economic growth.  

Through education, girls are empowered with basic health knowledge which can help them to better take care of themselves and others. Educated women have better reproductive health, including a reduced risk of contracting HIV.

Girls’ education is associated with increased family and community resilience to extreme weather events and natural disasters. Educated girls are empowered to support peacebuilding and recovery efforts following a conflict or crisis. 

Educated women tend to have smaller, more sustainable families. Their children are more likely to be healthier, wealthier and better educated. Girls’ education creates a positive cycle, with the power to transform societies and change the world. 

"One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution"

Malala Yousafzai

So why are millions of children out of school?

The issues

In many countries, girls are more likely than boys to take on the burden of domestic labour. This means that girls have less time to study or may face increased absences from school - in some cases dropping out altogether.

In times of crisis, communities often face loss of livelihoods and displacement. Increased poverty means girls are at higher risk of child marriage. Violence or attacks on schools may cause parents to withdraw girls from school to protect their safety. 

The high cost of education is a barrier to learning for the most marginalized girls. Although education is a powerful investment, the direct costs of school fees, and the indirect costs of girls’ education, are an impossible hurdle for too many families.

Millions of girls globally are married before the age of 18. Early marriage often prevents girls from completing their education and can lead to early pregnancy. If all girls completed 12 years of education, early marriage and pregnancy would decrease significantly.

Harmful gender norms can prevent girls from completing, and benefiting from, their education. Gender bias in the classroom and expectations around womens’ roles in society create barriers to girls achieving their full potential at school, in their community, and in the workforce. 

The world is facing a learning crisis. Although more children are enrolled in school than ever before, too many are failing to achieve basic numeracy and literacy. Low-quality education can prevent learners, and girls in particular, from getting the knowledge and skills that they need to fulfil their potential. 

Poverty is one of the greatest barriers to girls’ education. Research shows that girls facing multiple forms of marginalization caused by disability, minority ethnic status, and living in a remote or rural location, are most likely to be the furthest behind in accessing and completing their education. 

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is commonly experienced and perpetrated whilst learners travel to and from school, in and around school grounds and in cyberspace. SRGBV often worsens in conflict or crisis-affected contexts violating the rights of children to safe, quality education. 

Test your knowledge

Take our quiz! Test your knowledge on gender equality in education with 10 simple questions. Get to grips with the basics on barriers to girls’ education, and how we can work together to ensure safe, quality and inclusive education for all.

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