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Girls’ education

To achieve an equal world, every girl, everywhere must be able to learn.

Girls’ education

To achieve an equal world, every girl, everywhere must be able to learn.

Girls' education matters. But around the world, girls are prevented from accessing this right. Poverty. Child marriage. Gender norms. Periods. Insecurity. Violence. Access. All of these are barriers to girls' education.

It is especially difficult for girls facing several of these barriers. Such as those who are disabled or living through emergencies. Even those that do go to school may finish early, without reaching higher levels. And big changes, like the death of a parent may force girls out of school for good.

What this means is that too many girls are not getting basic reading, writing and maths skills. Not to mention knowledge about their bodies and the life skills they need to thrive. Without these, they don’t have a fair say in their future.

Girls’ education isn’t optional. It is a right.


girls are out of school worldwide.


of girls in the UK say boys are taught or encouraged to study different subjects to girls.


is how much more likely girls living in conflict and crisis areas are to be out of school.

Hellen, 14, standing outside her school in Tanzania
Hellen, 14, is now going to school in Tanzania through a project run by Plan International.

Going to school, like the boys

"I used to stand at the edge of the road every morning and watch my brothers and their friends go to school. I wanted to go too, but I thought school wasn't for girls like me," says Hellen from Tanzania.

"For years, I had dreamt of the opportunity to enter the classroom and learn, but I never thought it would be possible.”

At 14, Hellen finally got her chance thanks to a project through Plan International’s which helps out-of-school girls get a basic education.

"I never thought my parents would change their minds about marrying me off. They finally allowed me to go to school, just like the boys.”

Create a fairer world

Make life-changing education a reality for another girl.

Breaking down the barriers

Breaking down the barriers

We work with communities to remove barriers to girls’ education. If it’s poverty, livelihood projects can help raise families’ income and keep girls in school. If it’s periods, access to safe toilets stocked with period products is a must.

Where harmful gender norms and expectations are held, it’s about dialogue and raising awareness of girls’ rights. So that girls are not forced into early marriage or to have children before they are ready.

In emergencies, it’s about ensuring girls still have somewhere safe to learn. And it’s about protecting them from the heightened risks of trafficking and exploitation that emergencies bring.

Period-friendly schools

“I used to miss school for seven days,” says 15-year-old Hamda, from Somalia. “Now I go to school when I have my period and I don’t miss any classes.”

“I didn’t have anything to use and clean myself with, it was so embarrassing. I missed many classes because of that. When I missed class, I got behind.”

Plan International provides menstrual hygiene kits and has built safe toilets at Hamda’s school.

“Before, the toilets at school had no doors and were not safe. Now we have separate toilets for girls, that are not close to the boys and are safe and secure.”

Hamda, 15, standing outside the new toilet facilities built by Plan International in Somalia
Hamda, 15, can continue with her studies because of the new toilets in Somalia.
Mariéta, 15, sitting in her school classroom in Burkina Faso.
Mariéta, 15, has a safe place to learn now there is a school closer to her home in Burkina Faso.

Creating safety and security

“When I hear about the terrorists and the attacks in Kaya and other places, I am afraid when I go to school – I don’t know what might happen,” says 15-year-old Mariéta from Burkina Faso.

In places of instability, the fear of attack while at or going to school can stop girls attending.

Through our child sponsorship programme in Marieta’s community, Plan International has supported the building of a new secondary school.

“Now we have a high school in our village and access is easier for us. We no longer have to travel long distances to continue our studies,” explains Mariéta.

Girls’ education in emergencies

“Since the drought started, we often miss school because of other priorities at home such as taking care of animals and fetching water for the family,” says 18-year-old Hibbaq.

Hibbaq lives in Somalia where severe drought has created a hunger emergency. In times of crisis, girls’ education takes a hit.

“With the school closures and children out of school for such a long time, children are at risk of not going back to school, losing their education, and being exposed to different forms of exploitation and abuse,” explains Hibbaq.

If you’re a girl affected by conflict or disaster, you’re more likely to be married before you’re 18 than to finish school.

Plan International is working together with a global panel of youth leaders to ensure that all children living in emergencies can access quality education.

Find out more

Hibbaq, 18, standing in the bush holding her school books in Somalia.
Hibbaq, 18, is worried about the impact the hunger crisis is having on education in Somalia.

Education and the path to equality

Girls have a right to education. And educating girls creates lasting change too.


Girls have a right to education. And educating girls creates lasting change too.

Fact: Educating girls creates a society that is healthier for women and children. Where girls are educated, there is less child marriage, lower child and maternal mortality, and less childhood malnutrition.

Fact: Educated girls can help break the cycle of poverty, in their own lives and beyond. Education increases girls’ earning power. It also helps them make informed decisions at home, at work and in their communities.

Fact: Educated girls are more likely to take leadership roles in politics and democracy. The decisions they make can build more equal societies. And more female representation means action on issues that matter to them.

The girl's education challenge

The Girls’ Education Challenge, funded by UK Aid, has helped ensure more girls get to build the futures they choose.

Between 2013-2023, it took the shape of three projects through Plan International in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Zimbabwe. 

The UK Aid logo
Susan, 19, learning with her teacher in an outdoor classroom in Zimbabwe
Susan, 19, has learnt to read and write through a project in Zimbabwe.

Susan's story

Susan, 19, from Zimbabwe, learnt to read and write through the Girls’ Education Challenge project: 

"Due to my disability, I was not able to write but ever since I joined this class, a lot has changed. I can now write my name and am learning my numbers. This will help me with my sewing business."

Jiriatu's story

In Sierra Leonne, Jariatu got a second chance to complete her education having been forced to marry young to escape poverty.  

Through the Girls’ Education Challenge, Jariatu was one of 250 young women supported to become primary school teachers: 

"Plan International paid us regular stipends, took care of us, and did everything it took to get us educated,” says Jariatu.  

“Now I have strong hope for a brighter future, and will soon be able to worry less about looking after and supporting my family.” 

Jariatu in her gown and mortarboard during her graduation as a teacher
Jariatu had the chance to return to school and train as a teacher through Plan International.

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