Women and girls make up two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults and more than two-thirds of the 130 million school-age children not enrolled in school.
By missing out on educational opportunities, women and girls are more likely to contract malaria or HIV; to die in childbirth or lose their children at an early age; to be unemployed and suffer extreme poverty; and to be married as children.
Some of the barriers are cultural (deeply held beliefs about the role of women and girls in society). Others are simply economic (families who cannot afford to send all of their children to school choose to invest in boys).
This is not only a tragic lost opportunity for women and girls, but also for their communities which would stand to benefit from their leadership and multi-faceted contributions.
Camfed engages community and family members as champions of the girl child’s education, in Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its alumnae support network champions young women and enables economic opportunities after secondary school.
Educate Girls: There are more girls out of school in India than in any other country in the world. Despite national goals to educate all children, some communities in remote and rural areas still do not place a high value on educating their girls, nor do they have the resources to do so. Educate Girls is mobilizing communities to engage with government schools, plan and carry out school improvement plans vital for keeping girls in school, and provide training to improve teacher and curriculum quality.
Afghan Institute of Learning: Thirty years of warfare have destroyed Afghan family service systems and educational infrastructure. More than 85 percent of Afghan women are illiterate. AIL’s network of learning centers provide comprehensive health and education services designed to meet multiple needs of Afghan women, including reproductive and early childhood health, and also boost Afghanistan’s educational capacity by providing teacher training, administrative support, and school materials and supplies to thousands of students.
Barefoot College: The resourcefulness and practical skills of women from poor villages are often under-valued and overlooked as forces for community development. Barefoot College recruits illiterate villagers, women and men, and trains them to build and maintain life-changing systems such as solar electricity, water and sanitation, schools and clinics, artisan businesses, and community engagement. This radically simple approach, demystifying and putting technology in the hands of poor communities, is less expensive and more successful than approaches that rely on external experts.
Girls Not Brides: Every year 14 million girls are married as children; denied their rights to health, education, and opportunity; and robbed of their childhood. Girls Not Brides brings together global leaders and grassroots voices—more than 300 member organizations across 50 countries—committed to end child marriage in one generation.