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"No enduring solution to the major changes of our day - from climate change to political 
and economic instability to poverty - can be solved without the full participation of the 
world's women and girls. This means paying real attention to the State of the World's 
Girls. By providing evidence and calls to action, Plan's series of reports, and the 
Because I am a Girl Global Campaign, help all of us to advance gender equality as our 
individual and collective responsibility." 

Michelle Bachelet 

UN Women Executive Director 

"Maybe one day when my siblings are a bit older I could go back to school. I would learn 
and pass all my subjects, and then I could have a better job and a better life. Sometimes, 
I dream about becoming a teacher or maybe a nurse." 

Talent, 14, Zimbabwe 

The report series 

'Because I am a Girl' is an annual report published by Plan mapping the state of the world's girls. 
While women and children are recognised as specific categories in policy and planning, girls' 
particular needs and rights are often ignored. These reports provide the evidence, including the 
voices of girls themselves, as to why they need to be treated differently from boys and women. 

The first report was published in 2007 and the report series will continue at least to 2015, the 
final target year for the delivery of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 
For the same period, in our 'Real Choices, Real Lives' study, we are also following a cohort of 
girls in nine different countries born in the year of our first report. 

In 2007, we gave an overview of the global situation of girls. In 2008, we looked at girls 
affected by conflict: those growing up 'In the Shadow of War'. The 2009 report focused on 
economic empowerment, 'Girls in the Global Economy: Adding it all Up'. In 2010, Digital 
and Urban Frontiers, Girls in a Changing Landscape' looked at adolescent girls in two of the 
most dynamic arenas in the world today - cities and new technologies - and examined the 
opportunities and the dangers that these present. In 2011 the girls' report, 'So, What About 
Boys?' looked at the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. 

ISBN: 978-0-9565219-6-5 


am a 


15 year-old Gifty addresses a village meeting 
on the importance of girls' education. 

Because I am a Girl 


Learning for Life 

hoolgirls in India. 


This report was made possible with the advice and contributions of many people and organisations. 

Global Advisory Panel: 
Beau Crowder 
Cheryl G Faye 
Claudia Mitchell 

Cynthia Lloyd 
Cynthia Steele 
David Johnson 

Diana Rivington 
Elaine Unterhalter 

Francisco Cos-Montiel 

Julie Hansen Swanson 
Lucero Quiroga 
Lucy Lake 
Maki Hayashikawa 
Noreen Khan 
Prema Clarke 
Rebecca Winthrop 
Rosario Garcia-Calderon 

Ruth Pearson 

Sajeda Amin 
Sally Gear 
Sarah Kambou 
Vernor Munoz 
Anja Stuckert 
Alex Munive 
Deepali Sood 

Director of Programmes, Dubai Cares 
Head of UNGEI Secretariat, UNICEF 

James McGill Professor of Visual Arts-based Methodologies, HIV&AIDS and Social Change, 
McGill University 
Education Expert 

Executive Vice President, EMpower 

Reader in Comparative and International Education (Developing 
Countries) and Dean and Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford University 
Director of Equality Between Men and Women, CIDA 
Professor of Education & International Development, Institute of 
Education, University of London 

Senior Program Specialist, Women's Rights and Citizenship 
International Development Research Centre (IDRC) 
Deputy Chief, Education Division, Africa Bureau, USAID 
Consultant, Gender Expert 
Deputy Executive Director, Camfed 

Chief, Section for Basic Education, Division of Basic to Higher Education and Learning, UNESCO 

Head, Gender Unit, UNICEF 

Senior Education Specialist, EFA FTI Secretariat 

Director, Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institute 

Programme Specialist, Education, Indicators and Data Analysis unit 

UNESCO Institute for Statistics 

Professor of International Development, School of Politics and 
International Studies (POLIS), Leeds University 
Senior Associate, Population Council 

Senior Education Advisor, UK Department for International Development 
President, ICRW 

Former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education 
Gender Advisor, Plan Germany 
Gender Advisor, Plan Finland 

Head of Global Because I am a Girl Campaign, Plan International 

Executive Group: 
Marie Staunton 
Nigel Chapman 
Rosemary McCarney 

CEO, Plan UK 

CEO, Plan International 

CEO, Plan Canada 

Input was also received from, among others: Andrew Rogerson, Angela Penrose, Angeline Barrett, Roland Angerer (Plan), Leon Tikly. 

Steering Group - Plan International: Adam Vink, Alex Munive, Anne-Sophie Lois, Anthony Davis, Bekti Andari, Belinda Portillo, Dena 
Allen, Don McPhee, Edith Wanjohi, Emily Laurie, Eva Iversen, Fadimata Alainchar, Fiyola Hoosen-Steele, Gorel Bogarde, Hamimu Masudi, 
Hellen Tombo, Jacqui Gallinetti, Jorn Johansen, Kanwal Ahluwalia, Karen Craggs-Milne, Lydia Domingo, Margaret Akello, Marti Ostrander, 
Martien Swart, Miriam Ernest, Paula Roberts, Rosario del Rio, Ruth Naylor, Serena Trentini, Silje Budeng, Stephanie Conrad, Stuart Coles, 
Su Balasubramanian, Sven Coppens, Tanushree Soni, Terence McCaughan, Tinotenda Hondo, Yona Nestel. 

Legal input received from: Peter Tubman. 

Special thanks to: Charley Nussey for School Observation research, Kirrily Pells at Young Lives Research Centre, Alice Behrendt and 
Natalie Lucas for Plan West Africa research, and the DFID PPA-funded 'Building Skills for Life for Adolescent girls' Programme Global 
Baseline report prepared for Plan UK by KIT. 

Thank you to tUKai'd for primary research funding. 


V TJ^ Paper from 

responsible sources 


At school in Ghana. \ 

Principal author: Khadijah Fancy 

Additional writing: Elaine Unterhalter, Rosie Peppin Vaughan and Charley Nussey of the Institute of Education, University of London. 
Report team 

Sharon Goulds - project manager and lead editor 

Keshet Bachan - project coordinator 

Lili Harris - research assistant 

Sarah Hendriks - global gender advisor 

Feyi Rodway - cohort coordinator 

Simone Schneider - picture research 

Additional research: Harri Lee, Jacquelyn Haver, Laura Burke, Adolf Mavhenneke. 

Special thank you to the families taking part in the 'Real Choices, Real Lives' cohort study and to the Plan staff involved. 

Printed in Italy by Graphicom. ISBN: 978-0-9565219-6-5 
Design and production: New Internationalist Publications Ltd 

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is accurate at the time of going 
to press, Plan cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies. 

The commentary and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the official policy of Plan UK or of Plan. 

Parts of this publication may be copied for use in research, advocacy and education, providing the source is acknowledged. 
This publication may not be reproduced for other purposes without the prior permission of Plan. 

Unless otherwise indicated, names have been changed in case studies to protect identities. 

Unless otherwise indicated, dollar values expressed are US dollars. 


Foreword by Michelle Bachelet, 
UN Women Executive Director. 


Section 1 - 

Chapter 1 

Setting the scene 10 

1 Educate a girl: realising girls' 
potential in the 21st century. . . 12 

Primary research: The barriers to 
secondary education 15 

2 Taking up the challenge: 
meeting our obligations to 
adolescent girls 17 

A brief history of the global struggle 
for girls' education 18 

3 Growing up: facts and figures on 
adolescent girls and education . 20 

4 Can we sustain the social 
revolution of expanding 
education provision? 23 

5 Not just the means to an end: the 
intrinsic importance 

of girls' education 26 

Special feature: Because I am a Girl - 
Online Survey on Girls' Education. 28 

Case studies 

The Millennium 
Development Goals 


The oldest girl in the class - 

the story of Faith 16 

Because I am a Moken girl - 

overcoming discrimination 

and exclusion 20 

From child to married woman 
overnight 22 

Why learning for life is so 
important for adolescent girls 22 

After 2015 -A Millennium 
Learning Goal for all? 25 

The Rights Framework 26 

Critical Assets and Skills: 
Safeguarding her future 27 


Household chores in Guatemala. 

Chapter 2 

Enrolment is not enough: 
girls' access to education — 34 

1 A reality check: the persistence 

of poverty and discrimination . . 37 

2 Masking inequalities: the poorest 
and most isolated girls are not 
enrolled in school 38 

3 Measuring success: enrolment 
figures are increasing but what 
about attendance? 41 

What did we learn in school? Primary 
research in four countries 44 

4 Initiatives and alternatives: ensuring 
the transition to secondary 
education 46 

5 Why adolescent girls drop out of 
school 47 

Legal box: Right to Education 49 

6 The continuing constraints of 
gender: a girl's place is 

in the home 59 

Special feature: Cash for studying. 62 
Case studies 

The CREATE expanded definition 
of Access to Education 41 

Tracking girls' attendance - mobile 
phones as measuring tools 42 

Letters to an out-of-school friend: 
advice from girls in Cambodia 43 

A second chance for girls' education 

- policies and programmes 

to get girls back to school 46 

Sur's day: how cleaning, cooking 
and planting take their toll 47 

School Feeding and Take-Home 
Rations Project, World Food 
Programme, Ghana 50 

Real Choices, Real Lives: A turn 

for the better for Reaksa 51 

Head of the family, aged 14: too 
much responsibility, too early 52 

"The whole village was talking about 
it": sexual harassment at school . . 54 

Working with traditional leaders 

to encourage parents 55 

"I have a strong fear": what 

keeps girls out of school 56 

School for young mothers: 

FAWE, Zambia 57 

"My mother encourages me": 

keeping girls in school 

in South Sudan 58 

Towards a solution: 

an 'access index' 58 

An educated husband: staying in 
school in India 60 

Remote literacy: making school for 
girls attractive in rural Pakistan. . . 60 

Chapter 3 

Learning? How girls 
experience education 68 

1 What is learning? 70 

Legal box: Rights in education ... 71 

2 What is a school? 72 

3 Do the numbers really add up? 
Improving girls' learning 73 

Special feature: Toilets for girls ... 74 

4 Time is a resource, too 75 

5 Teachers count: Teacher 
attendance and teacher training 76 

Talking to Teachers, primary 
research in four countries 78 

Special feature: A convenient myth 
- the role of female teachers 80 

6 Curricula in schools 81 

Special feature: Books show 

us what happens in society 83 

7 Second chance - learning 
outside school 84 

8 Private vs state schools 87 

9 The hidden gender agenda 88 

Primary research: Real Choices, 
Real Lives - Classroom dynamics . 92 

Case studies 

A global compact on learning: 

the Brookings Institute report 70 

Features of a gender-equitable 
school 73 

Interventions that might improve 
a girl's opportunity to learn 75 

Girl-friendly schools 76 

The beauty of an early start: early 
childhood care and development . 81 

Community involvement 

in girls' education 82 

Hole in the wall: innovation 

in girls' learning 84 

Safe space in Africa's largest slum . . 86 

Non-state schools: 

an option for girls? 87 

Gloria the mechanic 90 

Chapter 4 

Life after school: the promise 
of a better society 94 

1 It's my body: the impact of 
education on sexual and 
reproductive health 98 

Primary research: The protective 
role of education 101 

2 These are my relationships: 
the impact of education on 
friendships and family life 102 

3 I want to work: does education 
prepare girls for the world 

of work? 104 

Special feature: Education 

in Latin America 110 

4 I have a voice: does education 
create active citizens? 114 

Legal box: Rights through 
Education 116 

Case studies 

How education equips girls for life: 
the capabilities approach 97 

CAMA: young women leaders. . . 103 

Economic benefits of 

girls' education 104 

Educated and jobless: young 
women in Saudi Arabia 105 

Malaysian women: one 

step forward 106 

Trumping tradition: zero gender 
difference in Victoria 108 

Girls making media: Plan Ghana, 
Sierra Leone, Togo and Liberia . . 114 

With heads held high: girls 
speaking out in Tanzania 117 

Chapter 5 

Translating ambition 

into action 120 

Action Plan 122 

Recommendation 1: The post-MDG 
framework must continue to prioritise 
gender equality in education 122 

Recommendation 2: A review of 
education sector plans should ensure 
that girls complete nine years of 
education 123 

Recommendation 3: Engage 
all donors to improve funding 
mechanisms in support of quality 
education for girls 125 

Girls' education in the arena of 
international policy 129 

Case studies 

Promising practice: Rwanda 
Education Sector Plan (2010-15) 122 

Girl-Friendly School Scorecard . . 123 

Promising practice: Girls' education 
initiative ('Girl-friendly schools'), 
Egypt 123 

Promising practice: The Diphalana 
Initiative for young mothers in 
Botswana 124 

Promising practice: South Africa 
Gender Equality Machinery 125 

Promising practice: Female 
Secondary School Assistance 
Programme in Bangladesh 126 

Promising practice: Increased 
funding in Costa Rica 126 

Promising practice: Gender 

Networking Programme 

in Tanzania 127 

Promising practice: SMS 

for Literacy in Pakistan 128 

Section 2 - 

Because We are Girls: 'Real 
Choices, Real Lives' cohort 
study update - Everything will 
be different in her life: can 
the changing attitudes of a 
generation of mothers help to 
transform girls' lives? 134 

1 Early girlhood 137 

2 Adolescence 139 

3 Family life now 143 

4 The future 145 

Cohort study map 148 

Case studies 

Real Choices, Real Lives update . 137 

Marie's story: the power of positive 
role models 139 

"I became a little woman when I 
was seven": the burden of domestic 
labour 140 

Why I finished school: poverty as a 
barrier to girls' education 141 

Sex education: knowledge and 
experience 143 

Section 3 - 


Plan's Because I am a Girl 

campaign 152 

Introduction 153 

Female adolescent educational 
development map 154 

Female adolescent secondary school 
attendance map 156 

Female adolescent unemployment 
map 158 

Case studies - promising practice 160 

1 Abriendo Oportunidades, 
Guatemala 160 

2 SMS for Literacy in Pakistan . . 162 

3 Plan - Empowering girls through 
education 163 


Speak Out) 165 

References 167 

Girls online 184 

Glossary 192 

Nargis's future? 197 

Plan Offices and Map 198 

About Plan International 200 



Michelle Bachelet 

UN Women Executive Director 

During the past century, we have witnessed 
a transformation in women's legal rights, 
educational achievements, and participation 
in public life. In all regions, countries have 
expanded women's legal entitlements. 
Today, more women are exercising 
leadership in politics and business, more 
girls are going to school, and more women 
survive childbirth and can plan their families. 

Yet despite progress, no country can 
claim to be entirely free from gender- 
based discrimination. This inequality can 
be seen in gender wage gaps and unequal 
opportunities, low representation of women 
in decision-making positions, child marriage, 
gross violations of rights, and widespread 
violence against women and girls. 

In recent years we have looked to 
education, girls' education in particular, as 
a critical investment to advance women's 
empowerment and economic development. 
But despite great progress in getting girls into 
school, we have not yet succeeded in fostering 
the transformational change that is needed for 
equality. In Latin America and other countries 
where girls' educational achievement 
surpasses that of boys, we have not achieved 
equality in the workplace, or in the relative 
socio-economic status of men and women, or 
in ending violence against women and girls. In 
many places, legal restrictions, early marriage, 
domestic chores and early childbearing 
continue to hinder equality of opportunity. 

To make greater progress, we need to 
enlarge the choices that young women have 
in their lives. This requires special attention to 
the rights and challenges of adolescent girls. 
It is at this stage of their lives that pressures 

increase; they are needed at home, they 
are seen in terms of their reproductive and 
domestic roles and this puts their education, 
health and future opportunities at risk. 

Early socialisation can play a key role. 
When I was President of Chile, we provided 
early childhood education so that boys and 
girls grew up with the same values and 
opportunities. In addition, I believe that 
having a woman President began a change 
in perceptions and expectations among 
children - a growing belief that girls and 
women can reach the highest levels and 
that there are no limits to their potential 
achievements and possibilities of leadership. 

Equality is not something that can 
be achieved by one organisation, one 
initiative or one educational establishment 
alone. Equality takes all of us. From the 
government that changes its laws, to the 
community that says NO to violence against 
women and girls, to the parents who teach 
their son and daughter that all human beings 
should be treated equally with dignity. 
We all need to be educated about gender 
equality and work together to advance social 
justice and human rights for all. 

No enduring solution to the major 
changes of our day - from climate change to 
political and economic instability to poverty 
- can be solved without the full participation 
of the world's women and girls. This means 
paying real attention to the State of the 
World's Girls. By providing evidence and 
calls to action, Plan's series of reports, and 
the Because I am a Girl Global Campaign, 
help all of us to advance gender equality as 
our individual and collective responsibility. 


the scene 


The 2012 'Because I am a Girl' report is 
focused on girls' education. It is particularly 
concerned with what happens to girls when 
they reach adolescence and their domestic 
and reproductive roles begin to dominate 
their lives at the expense of learning. 

Every girl has the right to education but 
there are 39 million 11-15 year-old girls 
out of school. 1 Despite reaching global 
parity at primary school level enrolment*, 
completion rates for girls lag behind boys' 
and at adolescence the pressures of poverty 
and discrimination still mean that girls leave 
school: to help at home, because their 
families are not convinced of the value of 
their education; because they experience 
violence at school; because they get 
pregnant or married; or because school is too 
far away and parents think their daughters, 
and their reputations, are at risk. 

They drop out just because they are girls; 
their primary role, and their value to their 
families and communities, is a domestic one 
and as future mothers. This is unjust; it limits 
a girl's life and opportunities and affects her 
health, her status, her earning power and 
her relationships with everyone around her. 

^ * United Nations. The Millennium Development Report 2012.' New 

It gives her no real choices. It also limits the 
potential of her community and, in terms 
of both economic wealth and social justice, 
makes the world a poorer place. 

This report will look in detail at why, 
despite much effort and good will, girls still 
lose out at school and at home, and at how 
education can become a reality in the lives 
of the 39 million girls not benefiting from it. 
How can we keep all girls in school, including 
the poorest and most marginalised, improve 
the quality of the education they receive and 
empower them to take their rightful place as 
equal citizens? 

In terms of gross domestic product, raising 
healthy children and creating a more equal 
and just society, the costs of not educating 
girls are unacceptably high. An earlier Plan 
report 2 estimated that in 2008 the economic 
cost to 65 low- and middle-income and 
transitional countries of failing to educate 
girls to the same standard as boys is a 
staggering $92 billion each year. 

As they reach adolescence in particular, 
girls and young women need to be 
empowered to achieve their potential; 
quality learning for life is at the heart of this. 

:: United Nations, 2012. 

1 Educate a girl... 

"Education is a right, but it is not a reality 
for too many women and girls. Education 
sends a message - a message of confidence 
and hope. It tells that child: you have a 
future; what you think matters. " 

United Nations Secretary-General's 
Global Initiative on Education 2012 

"Maybe one day when my siblings are a 
bit older I could go back to school. I would 
learn and pass all my subjects, and then 
I could have a better job and a better life. 
Sometimes, I dream about becoming a 
teacher or maybe a nurse. " 

Talent, 14, Zimbabwe 

On 31 October 201 1 , a baby girl* was 
born in rural India and was welcomed as 
the world's seven billionth person. 3 4 Born 
into a poor community, Nargis will have 
the right to an education, but she will be 
exceptionally lucky to receive one, get a 
decent job, or have the ability to choose 
whom she marries and how many children 
she has. She is one among millions of girls 
in a similar situation. 

This little girl joined a world in which almost 
half the people are under 24 years of age and 
about 1.7 billion are girls and young women. 5 

The capacity of these young women 
has become evident over the last year. 
Young women played a key role in protests 
and revolutions, taking to the streets to 
demonstrate to those in power that they 
have a voice. From Chile to the United 

Kingdom, they protested against the cost 
of education and, across the Middle East, 
they joined their brothers on the streets to 
challenge and bring down governments. 
Among them is Camila Vallejo. At 23, she 
is leading the populist uprising of youth in 
Chile, dubbed the 'Chilean Winter', calling 
for the government to make education more 
affordable and equitable. 6 Her leadership, 
both eloquent and peaceful, brought about 
constitutional change in Chile. 

In 2011, Tawakkol Karman of Yemen 
became the first Arab woman to win the Nobel 
Peace Prize and, at 32, the youngest winner in 
the prize's history. 7 Karman, a journalist and 
human rights activist, was also a leader in the 
protests that brought an end to the 33 -year 
regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012. 

And there were everyday heroes as 
well. Take 16 year-old Genet, who lives in 
Addis Ababa and is an orphan. Bucking low 
expectations of girls like her, and with the 
support of her aunt and uncle, Genet has 

Newly born 
Nargis with 
her parents. 

* Baby Nargis was born in Mall village in India's Uttar Pradesh state at 7.25am local time on 31 October 2011 . She was born to Vinita and her husband Ajay Kumar 
(a poor farmer) on a Monday morning in a small government-run hospital in Mall village, nearly 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow. 

Nargis's future? 

Goes to school 

Goes to 
primary school 


Doesn't go to school 

Doesn't go to school, 
stays at home 


Doesn't learn 



stayed in school and plans to complete her 
education, after which, she says, "I will be a 
doctor." Genet also wants to delay marriage 
until she is 30 and to have two children - 
"one boy and one girl". First, though, she 
stresses the importance of getting a job. She 
is not unaware of the obstacles: "These days, 
I see people graduate and not get a job for a 
long time. So maybe I will not find a job. " 8 

It is over 60 years since governments 
agreed, with a UN Declaration, that both 
boys and girls have a right to education. 
In the 1990s the international community 
recognised that education was not yet a right 

enjoyed by poor people in many parts of the 
world. Eight Millennium Development Goals 
(see box below) were agreed that set targets 
to achieve education for all. This led to the 
achievement of universal parity in primary 
school enrolment *. 

But there are important questions that still 
need answering. Who is enrolling in school? 
Who is actually attending? What are they 
learning? Is enrolment enough? 

One group that has been largely missed 
is adolescent girls. Those from poor 
communities, those in rural areas, those 
marginalised by ethnicity or language, rarely 

* United Nations. The Millennium Development Report 2012.' New York: United Nations, 2012. 


2000: New York, United Nations Millennium 
Declaration - World leaders adopt global 
strategies in an effort to reduce extreme poverty 
by 2015 - known as the Millennium Development 

A landmark commitment by world leaders to target 
eight areas of concern with the aim of freeing 
humanity from extreme poverty, hunger, disease 
and illiteracy by 2015. 

Eight goals, including 21 quantifiable targets that 
are measured by 60 indicators, were identified to 
tackle the main causes of extreme poverty. 

Some progress has been made in achieving these 
goals, but there are significant gaps and with 
2015 fast approaching overall success for the 
MDGs looks uncertain. 

Jft Goal 1: 
poverty Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 

Goal 2: 

Achieve universal primary education 
Goal 3: 

Promote gender equality and empower women 

<^> 4 Goal 4: 

duc£ W Reduce child mortality 

Goal 5: 

Improve maternal health 
Goal 6: 

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 

c9 n Q) 7 Goal 7: 

Enrols in 
secondary school 

Ensure environmental sustainability 
Goal 8: 

Develop a Global Partnership for Development 


Finishes school 
and gets a good job 

Married off at age 12 

(almost 45 per cent of girls in Uttar 
Pradesh will be married before age 15) 

Has child at age 14 

(12% teenage pregnancy 
rate in Uttar Pradesh) 

Cycle of poverty 

See page 197 for a more detailed exploration of Nargis's future. 


stay in school long enough to learn the skills 
they need. There are a number of reasons 
why they drop out. These include: poverty, 
early pregnancy, violence in schools, domestic 
responsibilities, or because their education 
is not prioritised by their families and 
communities. Even when adolescent girls do 
stay in school, the quality of education they 
receive often fails to lead to real learning - the 
sort that will equip them for the future. 

So, while some young women rose up to 
lead change in 2011 and 2012, eloquently 
articulating and fighting for their rights, 
many others still have the doors that a good 
education can unlock - to freedom, to voice, 
to participation - firmly shut in their faces. 

There is a real chance to change this in 
2012. A new global initiative on education, 
led by the UN Secretary-General, recognises 
the imperative to protect education budgets 
during hard times. It acknowledges that, 
despite much progress in recent years, "the 
quality of education remains desperately low 
in many parts of the world". 

Here is an opportunity to acknowledge 
the specific needs of adolescent girls and 
to recognise the particular challenges they 
face. Gender parity in education is already 
the subject of a wide range of international 
declarations (see page 129). It is guaranteed 
in national constitutions and enshrined 
in the principles of many international 
organisations. Yet underneath these headline 
commitments, there is a lack of delivery on 
a girl's right to education that is hampering 
attempts to achieve gender equality targets. 

Creating programmes to support 
adolescent girls - aged 10 to 19 - is complex 

and presents a challenge for policy and 
practice. Policies often fail to address these 
girls' needs directly, allowing them to be 
grouped with adults in some cases and with 
children in others. Adolescent girls face 
unique challenges and therefore should be 
treated as a distinct group. 

For example, the Millennium Development 
Goals (MDGs) do not have a clear focus 
on adolescents. In the area of education, 
MDG 2 is concerned with universal primary 
education but does not extend to universal 
access to other levels. While MDG 3 aims 
to increase the proportion of literate young 
women and the numbers of women holding 
seats in national parliaments, it makes no 
clear commitment to secondary and higher 
education (without which it is not clear how 
countries can achieve these aims). MDG 5 
targets a reduction in maternal mortality*, 
but only recently has it recognised that 
early pregnancy is a key factor in maternal 
mortality. 9 A new indicator has been added 
to measure adolescent fertility with regard to 
maternal mortality rates, which might help 
address the sexual and reproductive health 
of adolescent girls. 

The MDGs, however, remain silent on the 
specific educational needs of adolescent girls. 
This is partly due to a lack of understanding 
and thorough analysis of the issues adolescent 
girls face in their daily lives and consequently 
in achieving a quality education. 

This report will look at quality from 
the point of view of adolescent girls - a 
perspective that sheds light on critical issues 
for all children's learning and fulfilment 
within education. 

* Pregnancy and childbirth related complication is a leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15-19. 




In a recent study of seven African countries, Plan 
examined the challenges adolescent girls face to get 
in to, and to stay in, school. The issues are complex 
and numerous. 10 

1 While primary education is nominally free in 
all the countries studied, keeping children in 
school and ensuring they go beyond primary 
level remains a challenge. All families noted 
that they still face a number of charges, even 
at primary level, 

7y£ vC 

for their children's 
education. In Ghana, 
46 per cent of 
children interviewed 
felt that the lack 
of school materials 
and uniforms was 
the main difficulty 
faced in going to 
school, and a further 
14 per cent cited 
their inability to pay 
school fees. 11 Fifty- 
seven per cent of 
parents cited a lack 
of financial means 
as the reason for 
not enrolling their 
children in school, 
despite the existence 
of free basic 
abuse and sexual 
exploitation is 
prevalent across all 
the countries. When 
asking about early 
pregnancy, Plan's 
researchers in Togo 
found that 16 per 
cent of the children 
interviewed named a teacher as responsible for 
the pregnancy of a classmate. The figure was 15 
per cent in Mali and 11 per cent in Senegal. In 
Ghana, 75 per cent of children cited teachers as 
the main perpetrators of violence in school; in 
Senegal the figure was 80 per cent. 
Early pregnancy is common and leads to drop- 
out, forever limiting a girl's chances of finishing 
school even if she does return. In Liberia, 61 per 
cent of children knew of at least one girl who 

had fallen pregnant in the last two school years; 
only five per cent of children said that the girl(s) 
had returned to school after the birth. In some 
countries, girls exchanging sex for money to pay 
for school fees and materials, however negatively 
viewed, was a common practice. In Ghana, 
90 per cent of girls and 50 per cent of boys 
answered that they would use sex to meet basic 
needs. Beliefs that the only role girls can have is 
as wives and mothers, 
have a negative 
impact on girls' social 
development and 
their educational 
goals. In Ghana, 83 
per cent of parents 
listed the possibility of 
girls falling pregnant 
as a disadvantage 
of schooling them. 
Female parents were 
slightly more likely (49 
per cent) than male 
parents (48 per cent) 
to agree that there are 
certain disadvantages 
to schooling girls. 
4 The high number 
of hours girls spend 
on household chores 
negatively affects 
their ability to learn. 
In Guinea Bissau, 
Plan's study found 
that girls work an 
average of eight hours 
a day on household 
chores compared to an 
average of three hours 
for boys. Tiredness 
and lack of time for 
schoolwork were listed 
as consequences of this burden of chores. 
High levels of poverty affect both boys' and girls' 
nutrition, and few school-feeding programmes 
exist to alleviate this. In Mali, one group of 
children commented that they had been forced 
to close their school canteen this year due to lack 
of support from NGOs or the government, and 
were unable to bring food from home due to bad 
harvests. This had a significant impact on overall 


What the numbers don't tell us 

"My parents are both old and I am the only 
girl in a family of four. I want to become 
a medical doctor when I finish school. 
My problem is that I have very little time 
to do my school work. All the chores are 
left for me to do while my brothers do 
their homework. My form teacher is really 
worried about my dropping marks. He 
talked to my parents about it but they 
ignored him. " 

Loveness, 17, Zimbabwe 12 

Young people tend to get aggregated into 
one group and so the realities faced by girls 
can easily get hidden. Looking behind the 
national and global figures, which show a 
steady increase in enrolment at all levels 
of education, there is clear evidence that 
significant numbers of girls continue to be 

Poverty, isolation, ethnicity, disability, 
gender discrimination and social and political 
unrest make regular school attendance a 
remote possibility for many girls. Plan's 
recent Building Skills for Life research in nine 
countries around the world showed that girls 
are more likely than boys never to have been 
enrolled, or to drop out during or at the end 
of primary school or after just one year of 
secondary schooling. Overall, 38 per cent 
of girls dropped out at the end of primary 
school; in Rwanda this figure rose to 51 per 
cent of girls aged 15-19 reporting that they 
had not completed primary schooling; the 
numbers of adolescent girls out of school 
across the nine countries was 26 per cent 
compared with 18 per cent for boys. 13 The 
age of highest risk for girls was between 14 
and 15, especially if they were falling behind 
their peers, were still in primary school or 
were just making the transition to secondary 
at this age. 14 

Too many girls, whatever they or their 
parents may wish for, will be locked out 
of most opportunities by an inadequate or 
incomplete education. For others, the kind 
of education they receive functions as the 
lock, confirming and reinforcing inequality, 
exclusion and subordination. 

When, in 2016, the seven billionth child 
moves towards her fifth birthday, she 
has a good chance of attending primary 

school. She may go further. But despite all 
commitments to the contrary, it is still a 
game of chance, and for girls' education that 
is not good enough. 


Nineteen year-old Faith lives in the rural 
district of Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. She is 
the fourth out of seven children. At the 
age of 13 she was forced to drop out of 
school as her mother felt that she had had 
enough primary education. Her family 
could no longer afford to pay her school 
fees if they were to educate her younger 
siblings up to the same level. 




After leaving school, Faith went to 
work as a 'house girl' for a family in a 
nearby town. She would cook and clean 
for the family as well as their children. 
She associates this time with a great deal 
of sadness as she was separated from her 
family and her friends. "It was a horrible 
feeling to be cooking and cleaning for girls 
and boys who were a similar age to me. 
It made me so sad when they left each 
morning to go to school while I was left at 
home to do the cooking and cleaning." 

Coming from a poor family, Faith has 
clearly fought against the odds to be back 
at school. "Many of my friends and girls 
I know from home are married already; 
some were as young as 12. 1 don't want 
to be married yet. I want to stay in school 
and then, only after I have achieved 
something for myself, will I think about 

For her, the advantages of being 
in education far outweigh any 
disadvantages. "I am so happy to be back 
at school. I don't mind that I had to walk 
four hours this morning to get here, or 
that I am in class with girls who are much 
younger than me. Being in school is what 
is important. " 

Faith would like to stay in school 
so that she can achieve her dream of 
becoming a nurse or a teacher. Whether 
her dream can come true is dependent on 
more than just being in school, but for 
Faith it is a step in the right direction. 

2 Taking up the challenge 

Each of the past 'Because I am a Girl' 
reports has talked about the importance of 
education for empowering girls and giving 
them the tools they need to function in 
the global economy, to manage the impact 
of conflict on their lives, to negotiate with 
the men and boys in their lives, and to live 
in a rapidly urbanising and digitised world. 
Education can be the foundation that girls 
need to survive and thrive. 

This report looks behind these 
expectations and examines what it will take 
for educators and governments to fulfil 
the promise of education and meet their 
obligations to adolescent girls. It examines 
the challenges faced by girls from many 

different backgrounds as they struggle to 
access education and to learn. It looks at 
the detail of what is taught, both in terms 
of the curriculum and the attitudes that are 
passed on. 

It looks beyond the numbers of girls 
in school to the power of learning to 
transform the lives of young women and the 
communities they live in. And it examines 
how, in a world marked by inequality, 
education can address the needs, rights and 
opportunities of adolescent girls to enable 
them to take their place as active and equal 

In this chapter, we give some background 
to the argument for more and better 
education for girls. We look first at the 
history of how the demand for expanded 
education for girls has been formulated 
around the world in international 
frameworks and national Constitutions. 
As stated earlier, initial concerns were with 
primary education. This has made realising 
the rights of older girls to education beyond 
primary school even more challenging. 

We look at the period of adolescence for 
girls, a time of transition which can have a 
profound impact on a girl's education and 
her future prospects. We will look closely 
at where adolescent girls actually are at this 
stage of their lives. Unfortunately, in too 
many cases, they are not where they ought 
to be - attending secondary school. 

in Niger. 


A brief history of the global struggle 
for girls' education 

"If women be educated for dependence; 
that is, to act according to the will of 
another fallible being, and submit, right or 
wrong, to power, where are we to stop?" 

Mary Wollstonecraft, 
British writer and feminist pioneer 

The movement demanding education for all 
girls and women is more than 200 years old. 
In 1792, in London, Mary Wollstonecraft 
wrote the 'Vindication of the Rights of 
Women' in which she argued that an 
education that recognised and encouraged 
women as rational thinkers to act guided 
by reason was essential to challenge the 
widely held assumption that women were 
the equivalent of household possessions. 
This echoed the calls of the movement for 
the abolition of slavery, which began around 

the same time, supported by the active Girls at school 

involvement of women. In 1848, the Seneca in Niger. 
Falls Declaration was adopted by a gathering 
of men and women in the Wesleyan Church 
at Seneca Falls, New York State, affirming 
the importance of women working together 
to participate in elections, public life, and in 
learning and teaching. 

Throughout the nineteenth century 
women opened schools and campaigned for 
education as a way to take forward women's 
political and social rights. These included 
Raden Ajeng Kartini in Indonesia, Charlotte 
Maxeke and Olive Schreiner in South Africa, 
and Pandita Ramabai Saraswati, who in 
1882 set up the first Indian women's society, 
the Arya Mahila Sam aj. 1 61 71 8 All these 
education activists demanded more than 
basic literacy and numeracy. They stressed 
the importance of what Mary Wollstonecraft 
called 'a well stored mind' - the exercise of 



reason, critique of prevailing inequalities and 
capacity to act to bring about change. 

The aspirations of these relatively small 
groups in the nineteenth century became 
incorporated, as the twentieth century 
advanced, into the demands of larger- 
scale movements. Education for girls and 
women formed a part of campaigns for 
widening voting rights, increased economic 
development and national self-determination. 

Education campaigners, analysts and 
commentators continued to pose questions 
about what should be taught to whom, how 
women could access higher education, and 
why women were paid less than men. Few 
political demands were made with respect to 
the education of adolescent girls specifically. 

In the aftermath of the Second World War, 
an international architecture of declarations, 
conventions and covenants began to emerge 
that set out a series of interconnected human 
rights that were universal and indivisible. In 
this framework, which many countries then 
drew on in framing their own Constitutions, 
the particular educational needs and rights 
of adolescents were rarely specified. 

While some international agreements 
provide a strong commitment to education 
for teenage girls and young women, not all 
do (see chart on page 129). Indeed, since 
2000 the trend within these frameworks has 
been to move away from statements that 
make a clear aspirational link between young 
women's education and their rights. Instead, 
the focus is on targets and indicators as 
exemplified by the MDGs. 

At the national level, although most 
Constitutions guarantee primary schooling 
for all, guarantees to further education are 
much weaker. For the school year ending 
2009, out of a total of 204 states, 136 have 
national Constitutions that provide a legal 
guarantee of free primary education, 54 do 
not, and 14 lack data on the topic. 19 

Despite this formal commitment, various 
charges continue to be levied on poor 
families. Recent research by Plan in West 
Africa found that in Liberia, despite the 

introduction of free primary education in 
2010, over 36 per cent of families were 
still paying school fees. 20 When it comes to 
secondary education, few countries extend 
the guarantee of free or universal access. 

During the past 30 years, as more and 
more children have received primary 
education, this has increased demand for 
secondary school opportunities. Recent 
surveys of the poorest girls in the final year 
of primary school in Tanzania, Nigeria and 
Ghana reveal their desires to go to secondary 
school. Asked what level of education they 
aspired to, more than 95 per cent of girls 
interviewed said they wanted to complete 
secondary school. 21 

Some countries are doing more to 
meet this demand. They are building 
more secondary schools, extending 
community-based primary school to 
include early secondary years, and 
providing free schooling to girls or girls-only 
scholarships*. 22 - 23 - 24 

But in many countries girls still face 
multiple hurdles to furthering their 

Failing to address these means the rights 
enshrined in international frameworks and 
national constitutions are guaranteed but not 

Girls at school 
in 1950s 

* For example, Tanzania built 1 ,000 new secondary schools between 2003 and 2006, under the government's Secondary Education Development Programme, 
raising net secondary enrolment over that period from 6.3 to 13.4 per cent. In addition, Zambia extended the basic provision of free education from primary school 
to Grades 1 -7, including the first years of secondary education into the basic years. They supported this policy by investing in the extension of community schools so 
more children had access to basic schools in their local communities. Between 1996 and 2009, the number of community schools grew from 200 to 3,000; between 
2005 and 2009 student enrolment rose by over 1 million and gender parity improved. 


3 Growing up 

"Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable 
period for girls in developing countries. 
During adolescence, the world expands 
for boys but contracts for girls. Boys 
gain autonomy, mobility, job prospects; 
girls are systematically deprived of these 
opportunities. They have restricted mobility 
and are susceptible to early or forced 
marriage and early pregnancy. " 

Ngozi Okonjo-lweala, former managing 
director of the World Bank and current 

finance minister, Nigerian Government 25 

There are 1.2 billion adolescents between 
the ages of 10 and 19 in the world today. 26 
Almost 75 per cent of them are in Asia and 
Africa, comprising large proportions of the 
populations of those regions. 27 

These young people spend more years in 
school today than ever before. That said, 
globally only 74 per cent of girls between the 
ages of 11 and 15 are in school - compared 
to 83 per cent of boys. 28 There are large 
variations - these averages do not speak to 
the reality of rural girls, poorer girls, or girls 
in conflict-affected regions. 

Although Asian countries are 
experiencing rapid economic growth, 
there are still an estimated 1.7 billion 
people living on less than $2 a day 
across the region, and amongst them 
are many indigenous communities. 
Indigenous children typically experience 
discrimination and exclusion that 
is associated with higher mortality 
rates, poorer healthcare, lower school 

enrolment and educational achievement Green (left) 
and a denial of their basic rights. Both and Ta at 


their rights, but in most cases girls face 
additional forms of discrimination due to 
their gender and age. 

In Thailand, Plan is working with 
Moken people - more popularly known as 
'Sea Gypsies'. Since the tsunami and the 
forced settlement of Moken communities 
on government land, more Moken 
children are attending mixed primary and 
secondary schools. 

Green is 14 years old and is part of 
an indigenous Moken community living 
along Thailand's southern coast. "I 
wanted to tell those who were cruel to 
me that I was normal, that I'm not dirty, 
but I didn't have the courage," she says. 
"I have two friends who support me, but 
other people call me 'dirty sea gypsy'." 

Fourteen year-old Ta has a similar 
story. "The other children bully me. They 
sing songs to make fun of me because 
I'm a Moken girl. I just keep quiet. But I 
want to do something." Green interrupts 
to say Ta sometimes cries because of the 
bullying. When asked if she has told the 
teacher about it, Ta shrugs her shoulders: 
"It's been going on for four years. The 
teacher is Thai. She doesn't understand." 

Even their local language is avoided. 
Green comments: "Speaking in Moken 
will cause my friends to look down on me. 
And they already discriminate against us. Green and Ta 
I don't fight my friends over this. I know showing the 
in my heart that I have dignity being a pictures from 
Moken. " their after- 

In response to the pressures Moken school camp. 



girls face in school, Plan and its local 
partner FED have established an after- 
school intercultural camp for girls to 
practise local traditional dances and teach 
Moken language to other children. 

The camp allows Moken girls from 
different communities to meet, network 
and exchange experiences. Green explains: 
"The camp has taught us that there are 
different cultures [in Thailand] and we 
should be proud. We also learn that 
we can have local crafts, we can weave 
baskets; we don't need to buy them." 

The girls believe reviving Moken 
identity can help shift the prospects of 
the entire community and even their own 
futures. "I would like to become a chef 
and open my own restaurant. A restaurant 
that serves traditional Moken food!" adds 

Out of school 

According to UNESCO, 39 million girls aged 
11 to 15 are not in lower secondary school. 29 
So where are the adolescent girls? One in 
seven is married by the age of 15. 30 Up to 
half of all girls in developing countries are 
mothers before they turn 18. 31 If present 
trends continue, more than 100 million girls 
will probably be married as children in the 
next decade. 32 

Formal legal restrictions - such as laws 
on minimum age for marriage or working 
- offer scant protection for adolescent 
girls. In 25 countries there is no specified 
age for compulsory education and in 44 
countries girls can be married younger than 
boys. 33 In 17 countries the legal working 
age is lower than the age of compulsory 
education, negating any legal protection to 
education. 34 

While 18 is the minimum age of marriage 
in most countries, there is usually a caveat 
giving parents the right to grant consent for 
younger girls to marry. In South Asia, 48 per 
cent of girls are married before 18. In Africa 
the figure is 42 per cent and in Latin America 
and the Caribbean it is 29 per cent, with 
early marriage rates being higher in rural and 
poorer communities. 35 

Adolescent girls are no longer children; nor 
are they yet adults. They are moving towards 
more independence and the exercise of 
greater responsibility. But they are still young 
enough to need support and guidance on 
that path. The challenge is how to give that 
guidance in a way that promotes dignity and 
advances girls' rights and opportunities. 
In some cultures the change from child to 
adult, from girl to woman, is abrupt and the 
idea of adolescence, as a necessary period of 
transition, barely exists. 


Adolescence is a life-cycle period 
whereby children are learning to 
think abstractly and better able to 
connect values to actions and actions 
to consequences. It is a period of 
physical, emotional, psychological 
and cognitive development during 
which experimentation and risk-taking 
are both normal and a fundamental 
part of developing decision-making 
skills. However, these experiences 
are denied to girls in rural Pakistan 
who change, almost overnight, from 
being 'children' with extremely limited 
access to information relating to sexual 
reproductive health to being married 
women with all the responsibilities that 

Girls tend to marry at a very young 
age: often immediately following the first 
menstrual cycle - some time between the 
ages of 10 and 14 - which is thought to 
denote the onset of adulthood. For boys 

X 1 

marriage also comes early, during mid- 
adolescence, around 15 or 16. 

With marriage, the transition from 
child to adult is instantaneous. For girls 
it will mean an end to going to school 
and the beginning of childbearing. 
The religious and cultural context 
does not allow for a gradual transition 
into adulthood involving gaining 
some understanding of sexual and 
reproductive health issues before turning 
theory into practice. 

In many cases, education helps girls 
in the transition to adulthood. It helps 
promote the awareness, independence and 
understanding of participation necessary 
for a citizen. It provides the information 
and confidence needed to exercise 
reproductive rights. It fosters the skills and 
expertise necessary to enter the world of 
work and it develops talents for cultural 

But for many other girls, education is 
an obstacle to the transition to adulthood. 
Education works to instil values that 
confirm a girl must remain humble in her 
relationships with boys, men and older 
women. This form of education does not 
challenge an existing political, economic 
or cultural order. It works to keep girls 
'safe' within the existing shape of things, 
protecting them until they can become 
wives, mothers or workers. 

Often the education girls actually receive 
is a mixture of the two types described 
above. Their education limits some 
opportunities while offering up others. 


Adolescent girls stand at the doorway 
to adulthood. If they stay in school and 
obtain skills, research shows that they 
will earn more income in the future, 
marry later, and have fewer, and healthier, 
children. In the longer term, secondary 
education protects girls against HIV and 
AIDS, sexual harassment and human 
trafficking. In short, secondary education, 
in combination with financial assets 
and life skills, is essential for adolescent 
empowerment, development and 

mother in 



4 Can we sustain the social 
revolution of expanding 
education provision? 

The expected numbers of years of 
schooling a child will get has increased 
relatively steadily in each region since 
1970. Studies show that, globally, girls 
can now expect to complete over 10 years 
of education in their lifetimes and boys 
at least 11 years, with large differences 
between regions. For example, a girl in 
North America can expect a year more 
education than a boy in the same region, 
while in Sub-Saharan Africa girls can expect 
one year less than a boy. 37 

In other regions, large national-level gains 
mask sharp internal differences, especially at 
secondary level and higher. In China, which 
has seen some of the largest secondary- 
school enrolment gains in the world, only 
three to five per cent of rural students go to 
college or university, compared with 75 per 
cent of urban students. 38 In Latin America, 
where countries have made huge gains in 
access for all students, with girls overtaking 
boys in enrolment at all levels, there are still 

significant divisions between rural and urban 
children. The gap between urban and rural 
enrolment of children at secondary level 
exceeds 17 per cent in nine countries and 35 
per cent in three. 39 

The current recession may present a threat 
to expanding provision beyond primary 
school. Predictions of sharp contractions in 
economic growth abound. 40 Simultaneously, 
in some parts of the world, economic growth 
is evident, but without a similar expansion of 
decent work. 41 

When resources are stretched and 
choices need to be made, pro-poor and 
inclusive development often loses out as 
powerful players present it as a trade- 
off with growth. 42 Even with respect to 
expanding primary schooling, a relatively 
uncontroversial policy, a number of studies 
show how difficult it is for civil servants, 
teachers and non-governmental activists to 
gain support for the expansion of gender- 
equal provision to the very poor. 43 In difficult 
economic times, the political mood tends to 
favour short-term over long-term gains. 

One study estimates that achieving gender 
parity in primary education through universal 

A classroom 
in China. 

Sharing a 
textbook in 

enrolment would require an increase of 
slightly more than three per cent a year 
in public spending on primary education 
in South Asia, the Middle East and North 
Africa, but as much as 30 per cent a year 
in Sub-Saharan Africa. And it notes that 
achieving similar outcomes in secondary 
education would require significant 
additional funding. 44 

A World Bank paper investigating the 
costs of achieving the third Millennium 
Development Goal (MDG 3) - to promote 
gender equality and empower women 
- found that governments cannot hope 
to achieve any of the MDGs without 
paying adequate attention to the specific 
interventions, actions and investment 
needed to reach under-served women in 
their populations. The report found that 
investing in MDG 3 is crucial for achieving 
all the other Millennium Goals, as more than 
90 per cent of the investments to achieve 
gender equality are, in fact, implemented 
through other MDG targets. 45 

In 1992 the World Bank calculated the 
health-related costs of childbirth, child 
mortality and maternal mortality that could 
be avoided through girls' education. Using 
Pakistan as an example, they found that for 
one year of expenditure on the education of 

1,000 girls - an estimated cost of $30,000 
over the next 15 years - Pakistan would 
save $48,000 by avoiding 60 child deaths, 
$33,000 by avoiding 500 pregnancies, and 
$7,500 by avoiding three maternal deaths. 
The savings are therefore almost three times 
the cost of educating 1 ,000 girls. 46 It is a 
crude measurement which nevertheless had 
the effect of encouraging investment in girls' 

After all, in 2004, the amount needed was 
less than the amount the USA and Europe 
spent on ice cream ($31 billion) and not 
much more than on cosmetics ($18 billion.) 47 
Most significantly, it is only a 70th of the 
$1.6 trillion the world spent on arms in 
2010. 48 It is not just money that is the issue: 
it is political will and foresight. 

The targets for the MDGs are supposed to 
be met by 2015. It is widely expected that, 
despite considerable gains, the education 
and gender equality targets will not be met. 49 
There is already much discussion within 
international, national, academic and non- 
governmental bodies about the post-2015 
development agenda. Part of the discussion 
relates to whether a single set of shared goals 
- shifting from access to learning - is the 
best way forward, or if particular regional 
goals would be more appropriate. 50 



In 2006, three Harvard-based 
economists proposed a new Millennium 
Learning Goal (MLG) to replace the 
two current Millennium Development 
Goals for education. 51 They proposed 
standardised achievement tests for 
children in each age cohort as the main 
measure of education in each country. 
An MLG would turn the international 
standards and measures in education on 
their head. No longer would countries 
measure how many children are in 
school, but rather they would test how 
many children are achieving the desired 
level of learning in each age group. 

The global community does need to 
ensure that children are coming out of 
school with literacy, numeracy and critical 
thinking skills. However, literacy for the 
sake of literacy is not enough. The fact 
that a child can read does not mean she 
will automatically be able to find work as 
an adult or make decisions that will lead 
to social change in her community. Testing 
is a quick way to gauge the acquisition 
of knowledge or skills but not a way to 
gauge whether that skill/knowledge can 
be used to analyse, synthesise, evaluate 
and create ideas/change. The issue is not 
with testing or evaluations themselves, 
but with how these tests are structured. If 
a child is able to read a few sentences, she 
is categorised as literate and we deem that 
learning has been achieved. This is a false 
assumption. If tests (or other evaluation 
methods) also evaluated comprehension, 
analysis, application and synthesis of 
what was being read, then we could have 
a better measurement of learning being 

Testing learning' could skew 
investment away from interventions 
that tackle the wider environment and 
experience of girls within education, and 
focus instead on 'teaching to the test' 
learning. 52 It has been shown in many 
circumstances that testing as the sole or 
even main measure of quality education 
can have a negative impact on the wider 
learning environment, especially for girls 
who are struggling. 53 Indeed, Plan UK's 
original research from a baseline study 

in nine countries in Africa, Asia and Latin 
America shows that gate-keeping exams 
are one of the barriers that prevents girls, 
more than boys, from transitioning to 
higher grades. 

In 2011, the Brookings Institute's 
'Global Learning Compact' also stressed 
the importance of learning over 
enrolment. 54 It acknowledges that the 
learning crisis is worse for girls and for 
marginalised children, especially for 
those living in fragile and conflict-prone 
states. Brookings calls for a wider range 
of engagement in education quality, 
including teaching leadership skills and 
forging partnerships across services and 
disciplines to support learning. 

5 Not just the means to an end... 

"If a girl gets a secondary education, she 
will be more educated and will not accept 
boys, and so there might be a problem in 
society. Girls will be out of control. . . doing 
any kind of job. " 

Fisherman, Mehar Parai village, Pakistan 

"Education is not just an arrangement for 
training to develop skills (important as that 
is), it is also a recognition of the nature of 
the world, with its diversity and richness, 
and an appreciation of the importance of 
freedom and reasoning." 

Amartya Sen 55 

For more than 200 years, a strong moral 
argument has been made for education 
for girls, grounded in human rights and 
equality. Any argument in support of more 
and better education for all girls needs to 
recognise, therefore, the intrinsic importance 
of education for girls' empowerment, not just 
its value as a training ground for the world's 
future workers and mothers. 56 

The empowerment argument places 
its emphasis on how education should 
support the dignity and well-being of each 
individual girl. This places great store by 
improving education so it can work better 
as a key to securing rights for everybody. 
It is a view of education closely associated 
with human dignity, not simply as a means 
to a wider end. The fisherman quoted above 
might be horrified at the idea of girls being 
"out of control. . . doing any kind of job" 
- in other words upsetting the balance of 
power in society - but this could be seen as 
one of the prime purposes of educating girls 
and young women. 

The second argument sees the education 
of girls not primarily for themselves, but 
for the benefits they confer on others 
through their reduced fertility, support 
for their children's education, increased 
income-earning potential, or participation 
in governance. This 'instrumental' argument 
does not take a stand on whether education 
should be a lock or a key in the life of a girl. 
From this perspective, as long as education 
unlocks some economic and social benefits 
for most, but not for all, it is still valuable and 
meeting its objectives. 

Although contrasts are often drawn 
between instrumental and intrinsic values 
in the approach to the education of girls 
and women, in practice the two often sit 
side by side. This report will bring together 
both sides of the argument, linking aspects 
of pragmatic policy choices with an outlook 
that draws on human rights frameworks and 


• Rights to education: Access and 

• Rights within education: Gender-aware 
educational environments, processes 
and outcomes. 

• Rights through education: Supports 
gender equality leading to wider social 

It is also important to recognise that, in 
seeking to exercise their rights to, within 
and through education, girls navigate 
within a wider web of gender relations in 
the communities, families and societies in 
which they live. 58 So education does not 
operate in a vacuum and, even if children's 
education rights can be secured, it does not 
necessarily follow that wider social change 
will result. 

In organising this report to look at both 
the promise of girls' education and the 
challenges girls encounter, we have therefore 
drawn on this framework to analyse girls' 
rights to and within education. This allows us 
to examine what is going on in and around 
education and to see how these processes 
impact upon gender equality and inequality, 
both in and out of school. 

Girls' rights are crucial, but it is equally 
critical that they are equipped to exercise 
them. This approach allows us to look at 
girls' empowerment - that is, girls taking 
action and taking control of their choices. 
In this way, we are able to look at how 
girls operate in the world as a result of 
their education - and particularly if their 
education gives them the capability to 
overcome obstacles on their path to living 
the lives they choose. 



The assets that can facilitate adolescent 
girls' empowerment and rights, through 
acquiring a broad set of capabilities 
needed to make decisions about their lives 
and participate fully in their societies: 




Life skills 




Good health 


Access to 



Safe spaces 

Peer networks 

Role models 



Social support 
Men & boys 
as allies 

to participate 



Savings & 




Business skills 


Access to 
& control 
of financial 

& books 



Safe school 

Using the rights framework, Chapter 2 
will look at meaningful access for all girls, 
particularly those who are currently falling 
behind. Chapter 3 examines girls' experience 
of education, including how the processes of 
learning and teaching can meet their needs. 
Building on the capabilities approach, Chapter 
4 explores how education helps girls build 
their ability to secure improved health, have 
respectful relationships, find decent work, and 
participate in decision-making and politics. 

In each chapter, the analysis, while 
concerned with the experiences of girls and 

with education itself, will also look at the 
wider web of gender relations within which 
schools and girls operate; at the impact 
of the outside world; and the associated 
processes that contribute to girls' equality. 

The true promise of equality 

Discrimination affects the lives of girls 
and women from infancy to adulthood. It 
contributes to high infant and childhood 
mortality, to low educational achievement, 
and to failures to protect children from 
harm. It also affects the economic survival 
of families and the participation of children 
and young people in family and community 
decisions. Many violations of children's rights 
have their roots in gender-based inequality, 
exclusion and injustice. This report will argue 
that education should play both a protective 
and a transformative role in building a society 
that respects the rights of all its members. 
In focusing on the experiences of adolescent 
girls and the particular barriers they face 
in accessing a good quality education, we 
are advocating not just for their rights as 
individuals but for their right to be active 
and creative members of the communities 
they live in. The girls we have met and 
talked to in the course of our research have 
demonstrated their capabilities, enthusiasm 
and determination. They know the value of 
education, and in the stories of Faith, Talent, 
Sur and Harika we can see them fighting for 
the choices they want to make. In supporting 
girls like these we are also supporting 
something broader - the true promise of 




Before preparing this report on girls' education, the 'Because I am a Girl' team conducted an online survey 
to provide an indication of how education and development experts view the challenges and responses to 
girls' education. 

The survey allowed us to trace some of the consistencies across regions which proved to us there are 
issues that transcend culture and location. For example, nearly half saw the issue of poverty as the main 
barrier that prevents girls from going to school, while a further 24 per cent cited the undervaluing of girls. 

By asking them to choose only one barrier, respondents felt the survey did not adequately capture the 
interwoven nature of the barriers to girls' education; how poverty and culture interact and are mutually re- 
enforcing. We have reflected this unease in the many comments quoted here. 

The survey results 
Background information: 

• The total number of respondents was 264. 

• Three quarters were female; one quarter male. 

More than a third of respondents (39 per cent) were working in Africa, followed by Europe/North America 
(26 per cent), and Asia (21 per cent). Only three per cent were from Latin America, two per cent from the 
Middle East and the same from Oceania. 

• Altogether, our respondents had an accumulated 4,540 years of experience in education and development. 


Question 1 : What do you think is the main barrier 
that prevents girls from going to school? 

| | Economic deprivation (household-level poverty) 

| | Burden of chores 

| | Distance of school 

| Quality of school 

| | Negative parental attitudes towards school 

| | Not valuing girls 

| | Ongoing conflict or civil unrest 

Nearly half of the respondents (49 per cent) cited 
economic deprivation household-level poverty — as 
the main barrier that prevents girls from going to 
school; this was followed by the undervaluing of girls 
(24 per cent). The fewest respondents (under one per 
cent) selected ongoing conflict or civil unrest as a 
main barrier preventing girls from going to school. 

It should be noted that most respondents 
qualified their answer with "all of the above", 
stating that there was not just one main barrier; 
that multiple factors come into play. 

Quazi Afroz Jahanara, University of Dhaka: 
"In Bangladesh, besides negative attitudes, 
schools are not gender responsive. People are 
not valuing girls; economic deprivation, gender 
discrimination and 'eve-teasing' are the main 
barriers that prevent girls from going to school." 

Ijeoma Ebere-Uneze, National Universities 
Commission, Abuja, Nigeria: "Barriers to girls' 
education cannot be the same everywhere 
because the circumstances in any place are as 
unique as that particular place. For instance, in 
Nigeria negative parental attitude could be the 
case in the North East and North West, while 
poverty could be the case in the South East, and 
South West." 



Albert Motivans, UNESCO Institute for Statistics: 
"It depends on the context and how these 
different strands (culture/values/tradition/roles, 
economic disadvantage, flexibility of educational 
provision) interact, but generally I would feel 
that the worst cases are related to culture/ 
roles of girls/women. Poverty keeps boys out of 
school too, but when combined with traditional 
views on the role of girls, it can create greater 

Dr Leemamol Mathew, Institute of Rural 
Management Anand (IRMA), India: "One of 
my recent fieldworks in the remote villages of 
Gujarat came out with some of the reasons, like 
distance of school, economic deprivation, sexual 
abuse, and the attitude of the parents towards 
marrying off girl children at a very young age." 

Question 2: What do you think are the main issues 
affecting adolescent girls' school attendance and 

Poor quality 

school facilities 
(e.g. toilets, no. 

of students 
per classroom) 

violence at school 

Actual costs 
of sending 
girls to school 
(e.g. school 
uniform, books) 

Chores and 
at home (including 

Early pregnancy 

Early marriage 

firewood in 


40 60 



More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) felt 
that chores and responsibilities at home - including 
income-generating activities - were the main issue 
affecting adolescent girls' school attendance and 
retention, with 27 per cent of respondents selecting 
the actual costs of sending girls to school - e.g. 
school uniform, books, transportation, food - as the 
main issue. 

Again, most respondents qualified their answer 
with "all of the above", indicating that they felt 
there was no single main reason but a multitude of 
context-specific factors that impact adolescent girls' 
school attendance and retention. 

Ron Watt, CARE Cambodia: "Our research reveals 
that all of the above are significant issues facing 
indigenous girls accessing secondary education." 

Helene Rama-Niang, Aide et Action International: 
"Inadequate policies, because women's and 
girls' participation in all development processes 
in any country depends on real democratisation 
of school; above all, girls' attendance and 
retention in regard to the favourable policies - 
material, technical and financial support - which 

Nancy Kendall, University of Wisconsin-Madison: 
"All of these are issues, though I think that 
the last three are the most important. I would 
rephrase them as the 'sexualisation of adolescent 
girl students'." 


Question 3: What do you think is the main barrier 
that prevents girls from staying in school for at 
least nine years? 

Burden of chores 

Poor health 

Early pregnancy 
Forced marriage 

Child labour 


in schools 

Distance of school 

Quality of 

40 60 



Some 44 per cent of respondents felt that 
traditional attitudes were a main barrier that 
prevents girls from staying in school for at least 
nine years; 18 per cent felt the burden of chores 
was the main barrier. 

Samantha French, WaterAid: "In a study in Burkina 
Faso we found it was traditional attitudes/lack of 
valuing girls, combined with poverty." 

Luz Maceira Ochoa, Espacio Feminista: 'Lots of 
people in Mexico don't stay at school for that 
period. Almost 33 per cent of the Mexican 
population hasn't achieved the basic education. 
There are not state facilities to do it." 

Question 4: In your experience, which of the 
following is the main international issue that you 
believe causes girls to drop out of school? 


| | Armed 

I | Economic 

I | Disasters 

I | Poverty 

| | Conflict and 
civil unrest 

| | Negative 
towards girls' 

Nearly half of the respondents (47.5 per cent) felt 
poverty was the main issue that causes girls to drop 
out of school, followed by 32 per cent who felt that 
negative attitudes towards girls' education was a 
serious issue affecting girls' drop-out rates. 


Question 5: In your opinion, which group of girls is 
more likely to be excluded from school? 

Girls from ethnic 
or indigenous 

Girls with 

Girls from 

Girls living in 
urban slums 

Girls living 
in armed 
conflict zones 

Girls living with 

Girls living in 
remote regions 

Girls from 
the lowest 
wealth quintile 





A third of respondents (31 per cent) felt that girls 
from the lowest wealth quintile were most likely to 
be excluded from school, followed by girls living 
in isolated remote regions (21 per cent), and girls 
living with disabilities (20 per cent). 




Question 6: What is the best intervention, in your 
opinion, for keeping girls in school? 

I | Scholarships for girls Q More schools per community 

I | Toilet facilities Q Free sanitary products 

|~| Relevant, quality Q Incentives for teachers to teach 
curricula in rural/remote schools 

I | Teacher training (and better salaries) 

Nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) felt that 


irib were 

the most important 

intervention for keeping girls in school. Following 
this, respondents awarded equal importance 
to incentives for teachers to teach in rural 
communities (14 per cent) and more schools for 
communities. The fewest respondents (under two 
per cent) felt that free sanitary products was an 
intervention that worked in keeping girls in school. 

Prof Lynn Davies, Centre for International Education 
and Research, University of Birmingham: 

"Scholarships work well in areas of poverty; 
elsewhere I would say child-friendly schools which 
combine a lot of the above." 

Kamba, Rooftops Canada Foundation: "Creating 
political stability where there is conflict, and 
advocating for cultural changes." 

Bridget McElroy, IFESH (Africa): "There is a 
great need for gender-responsive pedagogical 
training for YOUNG, new, untrained teachers. 
Additionally, a great need to decrease the 
student-teacher ratio in the classroom." 

Question 7: What is the best intervention, in your 
opinion, for ensuring girls develop the skills they 
need to succeed in life? 


Access to loans 
and credit 

curricula (that 
challenge gender 

Sex education 

More (better 
paid and 
female teachers 

Safe spaces 
(in communities) 



40 60 



Many of the respondents felt that gender- 
transformative curricula that challenge gender 
stereotypes is the best way of ensuring girls 
develop the skills they need to succeed in life. 

Lesley Brewer, University of Nottingham: 
"Sensitising of political leaders to gender issues 
and the importance of educating girls for life. 
This can lead to all of the above." 

SY Agathe, Plan Burkino Faso: "Introduce in 
primary and secondary education training 
modules on topics such as 'building self- 
confidence'; 'human rights: equality between 
men and women'; 'education values'; leadership 

Dr Leemamol Mathew, IRMA, Anand, India: "Since 
many women are cheated for not being literate, I 
argue that along with other vocational training or 
skill-based training, schools must make sure that 
they learn to read and write before they leave 

Wezi Moyo, Action Aid International, Malawi: 
"Address violence in schools that leads to unhealthy 
interest in girls' bodies as sexual objects." 


Question 8: What do you think is the greatest 
benefit that school provides to girls? 


Social networks 


Technology skills 

Safe space 

Business and 

" ills 

Literacy and 
numeracy skills 

Leadership skills 


40 60 



More than half of respondents (54 per cent) 
selected literacy and numeracy skills as the most 
important benefit schooling provides for girls. This 
was followed by leadership skills (15 per cent) and 
social networks (10 per cent), while only 0.6 per 
cent felt that the greatest benefit of schooling for 
girls is technology skills. 

Ogochukwu Ekwenchi, Lecturer Africa: "With a 
qualification and a job, a girl is financially sorted 
for life, married or not." 

Lois Cochrane, The School Club, Zambia: "It has 
to be a combination of many of the above. 
For example, young women need to have an 
understanding of reproductive health, have 
literacy and numeracy skills, alongside the 
confidence to start their own business if this 
is what they wish to do (as so many economic 
opportunities in developing countries develop 
from within the community)." 

Wezi Moyo, Action Aid International, Malawi: "An 
educated woman is sure to make independent 
decisions, is less vulnerable to violence against 
women and HIV/AIDS." 

Question 9: What in your opinion, is the country 
that has made the most progress in increasing girls' 
enrolment in secondary school, and why? 

Ten per cent of the respondents chose Bangladesh 
as the country that has made the most progress, 
followed closely by Rwanda (seven per cent) and 
Kenya (five per cent). Respondents mentioned 
Mauritius, which has reached gender parity at 
university level, and Afghanistan, which showed 
promise in early 2002 and 2003 but that gradually 
fizzled out. 

Bangladesh: Respondents cited the strong social 
protection programmes put in place by the 
government, financial incentives such as stipends, 
free tuition and social mobilisation as reasons for 
selecting Bangladesh as the country that has made 
the most progress in increasing girls' enrolment. 
However, Nitya Rao, from the University of East 
Anglia, suggests that: "the quality of education in 
Bangladesh is not very good, and education does 
not necessarily play a transformative role." 
Rwanda: Respondents noted the inspirational 
recovery from the genocide, the political system, 
and the policies and programmes developed 
through collaborative partnerships with 
organisations such as FAWE and UNICEF. 
Kenya: Respondents cited awareness-raising 
campaigns, free primary education policy, and 
the presence of a country advocate for girls as the 
reasons why they felt Kenya was the most improved 
country in terms of school enrolment. 

Primary classroom 
in Bangladesh. 



The results of this short survey paint a mixed 
picture of the state of girls' education across 
the globe. Multiple barriers, including culture, 
economic deprivation, conflict and lack of political 
will, prompted many of the respondents to note 
that there is little to celebrate even though progress 
has been made. 

"There must exist the will to make a policy work by 
all the countries of the world. Unless this happens, 
I'm afraid a declaration of victory now in the war 
against girls' low school attendance will indeed be 
premature. " 

Ogochukwu Ekwenchi, Lecturer, Africa 

Experts pointed out that some topics, such as 
violence, continue to be overlooked and require 
dedicated legislation. "I work in Namibia, where 
girls must not go to school if they become 
pregnant. Furthermore, the high rate of violence 
against women and girls is oppressive and 

prohibitive. Girls in my classrooms say that when 
men beat them, it means the men love them," said 
Dr Tara Elyssa, retired lecturer and administrator. 

Others joined this call for increasing the focus 
on violence against girls: "In spite of all the factors 
that work against the education of the girl child, 
violence remains the most common, and much 
should be done by institutions and states to curb 
this phenomenon; be it at home, school or in 
society at large. Best of all, the quest for girl-child 
education should be made in compliance with 
girls themselves in all countries, with the ability to 
network for experience-sharing and learning," said 
Ngende Nathalia Dibando of Plan International. 

However, despite these difficulties, one thing 
was unanimously agreed upon by all survey 
participants - education is absolutely essential for 
achieving gender equality. "Access to education is a 
worthwhile venture that opens horizons, much more 
so for women who could impart and impact on their 
own families and the wider society," concluded 
Mary Getui of the Catholic University of Eastern 
Africa and National Aids Control Council, Africa. 


Enrolment is 
not enough: 
girls' access 
to education 

• Masking inequalities: the poorest and 
most isolated girls are not enrolled in 

• Measuring success: enrolment figures 
are increasing, but what about 

• What did we learn in school? Primary 
research in four countries 

• Why adolescent girls drop out of 

• The continuing constraints of gender: 
a girl's place is in the home 

"The benefits that she is going to get from 
school are not visible right now... After she 
gets all the necessary education, she will 

^ probably be employed, which will help me 

| through my problems." 

I Mother of 15 year-old Biritu, 

| rural Ethiopia 1 

One in four adolescent girls is no longer in 
lower secondary school; many drop out from 
primary school, others during the transition 
from primary to secondary. 2 Many hardly 
attend school at all. Recent research by 
Plan found that in a study of nine countries 
nearly eight per cent of girls had never been 
enrolled in school and that enrolment is in 
itself not a meaningful measure of school 
attendance. 3 We cannot really know how 
many adolescent girls attend school regularly 
and we understand even less about what 
might help get them into school and keep 
them there. 

This chapter will explore the reality behind 
the global enrolment statistics and the 
progress towards gender parity in education. 
During adolescence, girls' continued 
engagement with the formal education 
system, or with any schooling at all, can be 
erratic. Teenage girls have demands on their 
time which increase as they get older. Their 
domestic and reproductive roles may take 
priority over going to school. 

Scholarships, conditional cash transfers, 
community schools and female teachers are 
all cited as initiatives that might go some 


way to making sure that adolescent girls 
have meaningful access to education. But, 
in fact, the evidence is limited - we just 
cannot be sure what would work, where 
and why. 

This is in spite of the fact that over the 
past 10 years many countries have made 
strides in providing access to education 
for all children, and for girls in particular. 
Some 91 countries are on track to meet 
the Millennium Development Goal 
targets on access to, and gender parity in, 
primary education by 201 5. 4 Today, young 
people spend more of their adolescence 
in schooling than ever before. Adolescent 
girls in 2009 got a mean of six years of 
education in their lifetimes - up from fewer 
than four years in 1990. 5 Global trends in 
population growth, improved health and 
greater urbanisation have all contributed to 
this trend, but the achievements are mainly 
due to significant increases in investment 
and commitment to access to education 
around the world. 6 

It is right that these achievements are 
celebrated - as they are sure to be in 2015 
when heads of state gather at the United 
Nations to report on progress against the 
Millennium Development Goals - but this is 

not the whole story. 

The large increase in the numbers of 
young people enrolled in secondary school 
globally is dominated by increases in two 
countries: China and India. Between 1970 
and 2009, secondary-school enrolment 
in China rose from 52 to 100 million and 
in India it rose from 21 to 102 million. 7 
With these numbers, China and India 
account for almost half the global increase 
in secondary-school enrolment in this 
generation - from 196 million in 1970 to 
531 million students in 2009 - masking the 
ways in which other countries have made 
little or no progress. 8 

While the pace of increase in girls' 
enrolment in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa 
and East Asia has been significant - and 
faster than boys' - the girls who are seeing 
the greatest increase tend to be urban and 
rich. 9 Even in countries on track to meet 
global targets for enrolment and gender 
parity, girls from the poorest, hardest 
to reach, or most discriminated against 
communities are still left behind. 10 

As the chart below shows, there are 
huge differences between countries as to 
whether girls are in school, and if they are, 
at which level. 11 

Percentage of lower secondary school-age girls who are in and 
out of school, for selected countries, most recent year available 


Out of School (OOS) left school early 
In secondary school or higher 

OOS expected never to enter 
In primary school 

OOS expected to enter 



1 A reality check 

"Life here was tough! Girls' education was 
not a priority for most people. Most people 
married off their young girls to escape from 
high levels of poverty. Water, health and 
food were the most pressing needs of the 
communities. " 

Ayesha, 14, South Sudan 

As we saw in Chapter 1, adolescent girls' 
lives are dynamic, affected by their level of 
maturity, by where they live, by the season, 
by changes in their health, the welfare 
and the income of the rest of their family, 
and by custom and harmful practices. 12 
Although education is potentially offering 
them new opportunities, the persistence 
of poverty and recurring stresses such as 
illness or environmental shocks means 
that families are forced into a series of 
trade-offs. They must balance the need for 
survival in the present with any potential 
future gains that might come from keeping 
their children in school. 13 

In terms of government funding and 
parental attitudes and expectations there has 
been progress: we know from Plan's 'Real 
Choices, Real Lives' cohort study that many 
parents are committed to educating their 

girls as well as their boys. 14 Nevertheless, 
the realities of daily life can overwhelm 
both their personal commitment and the 
effectiveness of national provision and 

In this chapter we explore, first, what 
global and national figures conceal, by 
focusing on the girls who are not accounted 
for by international tracking methods - 
those marginalised by location, ethnicity 
and extreme poverty. We will also look at 
how success is being measured and how 
these measures, which only track enrolment, 
help to hide the real experiences of many 
adolescent girls. Finally, we look at why 
certain girls don't enrol in, or drop out of, 
school, and at what is being done to address 
these issues. 

For many boys, adolescence is a time of 
greater freedom and more independence. 
For girls it can be the opposite and 
education, actually going to school, can be 
key to enabling them to keep their place in, 
and contribute to, the world outside home. 

"/ would rather be a boy. They can go 
anywhere without fear - their parents don't 
worry so much... To be a boy is better. 
There is less pain in his life. " 

Sur, 13, Thailand 

Sur and her 
sister doing 
the washing. 


Girls aged 1 0-1 4 who never attended school as a 
percentage of all out-of-school girls aged 10-14 

Out-of-school girls (ages 10-14) are largely unschooled in the formal educational system 

Dominican Republic 




South Africa 
Congo (Brazzaville) 
Cote d'lvoire 
Burkina Faso 







2 Masking inequalities 

"In many poor settings parents under- 
invest in their children's schooling even 
when there are no school fees and 
schooling returns are high. This is because 
basic survival requires their children's 
participation in the work required to sustain 
the family. " 

Cynthia B Lloyd, Education Expert 15 

When we unpack the national statistics to 
look at how different aspects of family life 
and the wider society affect the education 
of girls, a very different story of progress in 
education emerges. Deeply entrenched social 
inequalities exist within many countries, and 
girls are the ones worst affected. 

In 2009, 48 million of the young people 
who were not in secondary school lived in 
South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa: that 



is 68 per cent of all the children in the 
world who are missing out on a secondary 
education. These are also the two regions 
with some of the largest gender gaps in 
enrolment in secondary education. 1617 

Within the countries in these regions, and 
elsewhere, we see three factors common 
to girls who have the least chance of going 
to school and staying there. They are poor, 
they live in rural areas, and they come from 
ethnic groups that are discriminated against 
or excluded. And in some cases all three. 
Many also live in a conflict-affected country 
or region. 

Globally, the poorest children are more 
likely to be out of school or behind in school 
than the richest children. In the poorest 20 
per cent of households in the world, only 64 
per cent of all school-aged children enrol in 
school, compared to 90 per cent of children 
in the richest 20 per cent of homes. 18 When 
adding a gender dynamic to this statistic, a 
bleak picture emerges. Girls in the poorest 
households are most likely to be excluded 
from school altogether. 19 

When poor parents make a decision 
about which child is more likely to gain from 
education, which is a long-term investment, 
a girl's immediate usefulness as a caretaker, 
her worth as a bride, or her contribution 
through domestic or other labour can be 
deemed more valuable than an uncertain 
and unproven return from her education in 
the future. 20 

"In Malawi, especially in rural areas, girls 
meet a lot of challenges and because I am 
a girl I would like to fight for my rights and 
girls' rights too. We are also human beings 
who need to be respected." 

Elizabeth, secondary-school 
student from Malawi 21 

Poor rural girls in almost every country 
have a lower rate of enrolment than their 
richer urban counterparts. One study of 40 
countries found that they had attendance 
rates of less than 50 per cent in every country 
but three. 22 Jordan, Armenia and Egypt were 
the only countries in the study in which 
rural poor girls achieved over 50 per cent 
secondary-school attendance. Indeed, in 24 
out of 40 countries, poor rural girls attended 
school less than 10 per cent of the time. 23 

Family income is therefore a critical factor 
in determining whether a girl will go to or 
stay in school. 

Where a girl lives is also key. Girls living in 
rural areas tend to enrol in, go to and stay in 
school at much lower rates than their urban 
counterparts. In Pakistan, a rural girl from 
one of the poorest homes is 16 times more 
likely to be out of school than a rich urban 
boy. 24 

Why rural girls enrol in and go to school 
less than richer urban girls is due to a 
number of factors related to rural life. For 
example, in the Peruvian Andes, research 
has shown that rural poverty makes 
unequal demands on girls' time, causing 
persistent low educational participation. 
This is deteriorating as water and firewood 
become increasingly scarce and girls must 
spend more of their time searching for these 
essential resources. 25 

Where poverty and gender intersect with 
geographical isolation and being a member 
of a minority ethnic group, the disadvantages 
are magnified, and inequalities are brought 
into even sharper focus. 

In Nigeria, for example, girls from a poor 
rural household will, on average, get fewer 
than three years of education; while in urban 
areas, girls in the same wealth bracket will 
get more than six years. If the girl is also 
from an ethnic minority, she will receive less 
than one year of education; compared to an 
average of almost 10 if she were from one 
of the richest rural households or any other 
ethnic group in the country. 26 

Running the 
household in 


"Girls have to help their parents with the 
house and with the farming. Girls have a 
duty to do as they are told. Boys do not 
have the same obligation to help. . . This 
sometimes means the boys go to school for 
longer than girls. " 

Community leader, 
Houay How village, Laos 27 

Plan International research shows that in 
isolated Lahu, Khmu and Hmong minority 
communities in Laos, girls face a number of 
barriers to secondary-school participation 
and their participation rates are much lower 
than the national average. 28 In some of 
the communities which formed part of the 
research, none of the girls had completed 
secondary school. Following traditional 
practice, girls in these communities are 
encouraged to marry between 14 and 16, 
and married girls are not encouraged to go 
to school. Further, a dowry is paid to the 
girl's parents and the girl will go to live with 
her husband's family. So, educating a girl 
is not seen as contributing to the family's 
future. Finally, girls' domestic labour is more 
highly valued than their education. 29 
Roma girls in Eastern Europe also face forms 
of discrimination in education due to their 
minority status: 

• In the Slovak Republic, only nine per cent 
of Roma girls, compared with 54 per cent 
of Slovak girls, attend secondary school. 30 

• In Romania, 39 per cent of Roma girls 
aged over 10 are without any education, 

compared with six per cent of the rest of Engaged to 

the population, and only one Roma girl to be married 

60 Romanians attends university. at age 10 in 

• In Kosovo, only 56 per cent of Roma Romania. 

women aged 15 to 24 are literate, as 

opposed to 98 per cent for the rest of the 

population. In addition, only 25 per cent of 

Roma children attend secondary education 

and only 1.4 per cent finish high school. 
This analysis clearly shows that the issue is 
not just whether the same number of girls 
as boys enrol in school, but, crucially, what 
happens to particular groups of girls at key 
stages in their education. While richer girls 
and urban girls are able to take advantage 
of the expansion in education, their 
counterparts in poorer households, in rural 
areas, and in certain ethnic groups are being Carrying 
excluded. water in Laos. 



3 Measuring success 

Looking at the differences in enrolment 
rates within countries, along lines of wealth, 
rural-urban divides, and at marginalised 
groups, gives a clearer picture of what is 
happening to adolescent girls' rights to 
education. But even that does not go far 

Although policymakers and academics 
have asked for more nuanced measurements 
of access, in reality most countries still 
just track enrolment. But enrolment is an 
inherently flawed measure of access. It is 
captured on one day - sometimes the first 
day - of the school year and can only really 
show whether children turned up to school 
on that day. 31 Using this measure, educators 
are left hoping that it will mean children will 
keep coming back every day throughout the 
whole year. 

A number of other measures (see box 
below) have been developed to try to 
capture meaningful access to education. This 
list expands tracking access beyond the first 
day and also tracks teacher attendance and 
'learning' achievements. 

The CREATE expanded definition of 
Access to Education 32 

Worthwhile access to education will only 
have an impact on development when: 

1 All children enrol at the age of six 

2 All children attend at least 80 per cent 
of the time and teachers are present to 
teach at least as frequently 

3 No child falls more than two years 
behind in school, and thus repetition is 
rare and carefully managed 

4 No child fails to achieve learning within 
two years of her particular grade 

5 Any differences in key inputs - such 
as pupil-teacher ratios, class sizes 
and access to learning materials - 
show more equal or even pro-poor 

Although these suggested measures 
contribute to a shift in thinking around 
tracking access and attendance rates, they 
leave out other important measures, such as 
gender dynamics in the classroom and rates 
of gender-based violence, which are vital to 
girls' education. 

Present and accounted for 
- after enrolment 

Attendance is a critical missing link in our 
understanding of access. By looking at the 
ways in which attendance varies throughout 
the school year, factors such as pastoral 
livelihoods and seasonal labour patterns 
begin to emerge. For example, in some 
parts of Ethiopia, indigenous settlements are 
scattered and mobility is key to economic 
livelihood. In other cases, early marriage of 
girls between 13 and 15 years of age further 
contributes to girls' attendance patterns and 
early drop-out. 33 If attendance throughout 
the year is not tracked, this issue will not 
be made visible to policymakers, and early 
marriage will go unchecked. 

Other factors that can contribute to 
truncated attendance or early drop-out are 
child labour and household chores. A social 
assessment for the Education Sector in 
Ethiopia found that: "Child labour is a major 
driver of late arrival at school, absenteeism 
and drop-out from school at all levels, and 
drop-out amongst girls is highest. Girls 
engage in several aspects of work in the 
household - cooking, fetching water and 
firewood, childcare - as well as going to 
market. Participation in handcrafts and 
cottage industry also contributes to absence 
from school." 34 

Shouldering a 
heavy burden 
in Ethiopia. 


Looking at the reasons behind girls' 
inconsistent attendance and early drop-out 
gives us a much more realistic picture of how 
much work there is still to do in ensuring that 
the rights of adolescent girls to education, 
particularly when they are from the poorest 
rural families, are substantively supported 
and promoted. 

One of the ways in which development 
organisations are tracking attendance rates 
for girls is through innovative technologies 
which allow for the immediate recording and 
mapping of girls' schooling patterns. 

A recent technological development 
in mobile applications is allowing 
girls' school attendance to be digitally 
monitored. Camfed is equipping its 
volunteers in Ghana with an 'end-to-end 
digitalised data collection and analysis 
system' designed to give communities 
the tools and the skills to track resources, 
monitor education quality and demand 
accountability from government and 
schools through the use of live data. 
Using EpiSurveyor phone software, 
volunteers are able to go into schools 
and gather data from parents, teachers 
and pupils about the resources they are 
receiving - such as uniforms, footwear 
and books - as well as information on 
performance and attendance. Data is fed 
back in real time to a Salesforce database, 
accessible by regional managers, who 
can analyse the data and examine 
trends. Following a successful pilot of 
the technology in Zambia, Ghana was 
chosen for the initial roll-out, because of 
good network coverage in rural areas and 
because Camfed Ghana was already using 
SMS to communicate with schools and 
volunteers in this region. 

Camfed Ghana selected members 
of each of the 14 district education 
committees earlier this year, as well as 
volunteers from Camfed's young women's 
network (Cama), to train in the use of the 
phone technology. Each trained volunteer 
visits the Camfed partner schools in their 
districts and collects information every 
term. "The girls feel more comfortable 
talking to the Cama members, as they 
have something in common," said Charles 

Atia, Camfed's head of operations. "It 
is also exciting and empowering for the 
young women to use this software." 
The software is allowing girls' school 
attendance and learning outcomes to be 
captured and monitored instantly, thus 
ensuring early drop-out or attrition can 
immediately be detected. 

Too old and too late 

Being too old for your class is another factor 
inhibiting adolescent girls' commitment to 
and progress in education. When girls don't 
start school at the right age and stage of life, 
they are even less likely ever to graduate. 36 

Many girls enrol late or have to repeat 
years and Plan's research has shown that 
if girls fall too far behind in school at the 
critical ages of 13 and 14 they risk dropping 
out and never returning. If they do continue 
to secondary education, they do not stay 
for very long. The level of drop-out was 
particularly acute in Cambodia and Mali, 
where around a quarter of girls enrolled in 
the first grade of lower secondary school did 
not progress into the second grade. 37 

In Malawi and Mozambique, around 
60 per cent of pupils reported that they 
had repeated a grade. 38 Research evidence 
suggests that grade repetition does not 
improve exam results or learning, but has 
been linked instead with low achievement 
and stripping away motivation for children 
who are forced to repeat grades. 39 

hard in 



Letters to an out-of-school friend 


Friend please comes back to 
school I am in school I am very 
happy to study and playing with 
friends and in the free time we can 
help our parents work. When you 
come back and try to study hard 
we will achieve our objectives. Our 
dream will come true. I think that 
I want to be a teacher and study 
hard to achieve the goal. Please 
come back to school my friends. 

Pisei, girl, 13, Cambodia 

I am very much happy as I can 
get much of knowledge from our 
teachers. Please do not stop 
studying and come back as our 
school now is much develop. 
School is the pool of knowledge if 
you come back school it is like to 
saving for your future. I hope you 
will come back school. 

Sopheak, girl, 12, Cambodia 

Friend please come back school 
as In school we are very happy 
and can study together and play 
together. We really want you come 
back school. We always come to 
school together and it is very 
exciting. When we are at school 
we also can help our parents' work 
when we go back home. Friend 
please come back school, yo 
used to tell me you want to 
teacher 4 ? How can you be if you do 
not come back school 4 ? I hope you 
will come back soon. 

Sron, girl, 14, Cambodia 

s work 



) be a 

Making the transition 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for 
adolescent girls is the transition from primary 
to secondary school and completion at lower 
and higher secondary levels. For example, 
a UNESCO report found large disparities 
in transitioning from primary to secondary 
school in Tanzania: for every 100 rich urban 
boys who complete primary school, only 
53 poor rural girls do. 41 The reasons vary, 
but Plan's research in neighbouring Kenya 
suggests that parents' low expectations and 

little support for girls' education coupled 
with high stakes examinations, where girls 
do poorly, are key factors inhibiting girls' 
transition from primary to secondary school. 42 
In this research across nine countries, in all 
cases except for El Salvador, fewer girls than 
boys passed their transitionary exams. Lower 
pass rates in gate-keeping examinations may 
be one of the reasons why fewer girls make 
the move from one cycle of education to the 
next, and why the gender gap widens going 
up the education system. 

From primary 
to secondary 
in Zimbabwe. 




"We have some good teachers and we learn all the 
time. The bad thing about school is they give us very 
little food here. I like to study, but not to be hungry. " 

Martha, 16, Uganda 

"As far as poverty is concerned there are many 
things they cannot do for financial reasons. They 
come to school without breakfast; sometimes they 
don't even have the five pesos to buy it - this is 
something which makes them depressed, and then 
you have a child who cannot develop well. " 

Arelis, teacher, Dominican Republic 

Over the past six years, Plan's 'Real Choices, Real 
Lives' cohort study has followed 142 girls and their 
families, who live in nine developing countries 
around the world. This year many of the cohort girls 
have started attending primary school and their 
parents have expressed high aspirations for their 
future. In fact, many parents expect their daughter 
to study to at least secondary-school level, to get 
a good job and lead a life free from poverty and 
hardship - opportunities which, in many cases, 
they did not have themselves. Without secondary 
schools which deliver quality education, these high 
aspirations are unlikely to be met. To find out what 
kind of education these girls can expect in six years' 
time, we conducted school observation research 43 in 
seven schools across four countries - Uganda, Brazil, 
Dominican Republic and Cambodia - in a number of 

primary and secondary schools in the areas closest to 
the cohort families. 

This research was conducted in each of the seven 
schools over a few days, during one week. As part 
of the research, we collected administrative data 
on attendance, repetition and levels of teacher 
qualifications. The researchers also observed two 
lessons in each school. We then conducted in- 
depth interviews with the classroom teacher (of the 
observed lessons) as well as the headteacher of the 
school. We asked them a series of questions including: 
how they became teachers, where they sent their own 
children to school, and how they felt about teaching 
boys compared with girls. Finally, we also interviewed 
students from all seven schools. 

One of the main findings related to the impact 
of poverty in these schools, especially in relation 
to the extra fees which were taken from students 
for printing exam papers on the day of research in 
two Brazilian schools. Researchers noted that these 
requests for financial contributions were affecting 
the lesson: "The group was very agitated, because of 
the 10 cents contribution (equivalent to one US cent) 
they had to give for the copies of the Portuguese test 
the following week. According to the student who 
was collecting the money, only the girls had brought 
the contribution." 

In all four countries, families reported spending 
substantial parts of their income on education- 
related expenses. 

In Brazil, Cambodia and Uganda, all of the 
cohort families reported hidden costs associated 
with educating their children, including having to 
buy uniforms, books and stationery. Although the 
average income varies widely, the associated costs of 
food and education make up between 40 and 50 per 
cent of an average family's weekly expenditure. 

Average income per week (US$) 

100 ■ 




11 1 - 

c u 




£ v 






The families in Brazil spend 41 per cent of their 
weekly income on food, leaving 59 per cent for rent, 
health, incidentals and education costs. 

Brazil: percentage of families reporting 
education costs per item 


Families in Cambodia spend 40 per cent of their 
weekly earnings on food, leaving 60 per cent for 
rent, health, incidentals and education. 

Cambodia: percentage of families 
reporting education costs per item 

60 n 

Families in Uganda earn on average $14 a week 
and they spend 57 per cent of that on food and 14 
per cent on rent, leaving 29 per cent for incidentals 
including education and health. As the graph 
below shows, all of the families in Uganda reported 
spending money on books and uniforms. 

Uganda: percentage of families 
reporting education costs per item 


Rudilania and 
her family. 

. WW 

Only 12 per cent of families in the Dominican 
Republic reported no costs. On average, cohort 
families in the Dominican Republic spent 50 per cent 
of their weekly earnings on food, leaving only half 
their combined income for rent, health, incidentals 
and education. Johanna's family explained that 
poverty meant they were unable to buy supplies for 
their children's schooling. 

Dominican Republic: percentage of 
families reporting education costs per item 




■ ■ 

Johanna's mother said: "I couldn't buy uniforms, 
the situation wasn't good; they went wearing the 
same ones as last year." Rudilania's family, on the 
other hand, reported that supplies were provided by 
the school. Rudilania's father explained that uniforms 
and books were "ordered [...] from the school... The 
teacher gives them to them." 


4 Initiatives and alternatives 

"Girls reap enormous benefits from 
post-primary education including skills 
that translate into employment and 
empowerment. In addition, there is a 
correlation between education beyond 
primary school and having healthier families 
and lower fertility rates. " 

UNICEF2010 44 

A number of initiatives have recognised the 
issue of transition between primary and 
secondary, particularly for poor and rural 
girls. Efforts to address it have included 
offering girls and boys accelerated or non- 
formal routes through primary education. 
ABE in Ethiopia, COBET in Tanzania and 
BRAC in Bangladesh are examples of this. 45 

Alternative and complementary routes 
through basic education - which 
prioritise getting girls back on track with 
their peers - have had great success in 
Tanzania and Bangladesh, countries that 
have both made huge progress towards 
the Millennium Development Goals. 

Tanzania made a commitment to 
getting all children into primary school 
when it gained its independence. 
Transition from primary to secondary 
emerged as a problem many years 
later and the ministry of education and 
UNICEF launched Complementary Basic 
Education for Tanzania (COBET) in 
2001. 46 The programme gives a second 
chance to children, especially married 
adolescent girls, through participatory, 
child-centred learning and community 
participation in planning, monitoring 
and evaluating the programme. It also 
encourages integration with health, 
nutrition, water and sanitation and HIV/ 
AIDS education, and develops greater 
flexibility and relevance to the needs of 

By 2006, about 556,000 out-of-school 
students - around eight per cent of the 
primary school-age population - had 
been enrolled in COBET centres. In 2001, 
almost 60 per cent of the children who 
entered Grade 1 had dropped out by 

in Kenya. 

Grade 3; by 2006, drop-out rates had 
fallen to 17 per cent. 47 

In Bangladesh, the issue of girls not 
in, or dropping out of, primary school is 
endemic, especially in remote and rural 
areas and among ethnic minorities. So 
while Bangladesh is an 'Education for 
AIT success story with large increases in 
enrolment since 1990, 1.3 million children 
remain out of school, drop-out is high, 
and attendance is low. 48 

In this context, BRAC has since 1985 
been running second-chance centres for 
rural children, especially girls, who have 
low access to primary school. Today, BRAC 
works in all 64 Districts of Bangladesh. 
It reaches 0.05 million children a year 
and 4.95 million (65.53 per cent female) 
children have graduated from a BRAC 
school since the programme began. 49 
94.14 per cent of BRAC pupils transfer to 
secondary school after completing a BRAC 
primary school, and fewer than five per 
cent drop out. Additionally, 99.86 per cent 
of BRAC students pass the government's 
Grade 5 examination. BRAC has been 
successfully teaching the same skills as the 
government schools - with better results - 
to a harder-to-reach population, as 65 per 
cent of the children BRAC reaches are rural 
girls from poor households. 50 

Other countries have made basic education 
free, have physically enlarged local primary 
schools to include nine years of basic 
education closer to girls' homes, and have 
offered scholarships for poor girls and other 
vulnerable children. 51 ' 5253 



5 Why adolescents drop out 

"[I would like to] study well... to move 
forward in future. . . there must be an aim for 
life... sometimes I feel like the difficulties 
[in the home] are because of me going to 
college. I feel like dropping out of college. . . 
if the conditions in the household are 
difficult, it is difficult to study." 

Triveni, orphan living with her 
grandmother, Andhra Pradesh, India 54 

With each year that girls progress through 
school, the ways in which their families rely 
on them shift, and at adolescence girls begin 
to disappear from the classroom. 

Research by Plan in six countries in 
West Africa and one country in East Africa 
indicates that the barriers to adolescent girls 
attending secondary school can include: 55 

• cost associated with education; 

• poor health and nutrition of girls; 

• high demands of domestic chores and care 
work at home; 

• lack of parental support; 

• abuse and exploitation in school by teachers; 

• early marriage and pregnancy; 

• limiting expectations about what it is 
appropriate for girls to do. 56 

In this section, we look at some of these 
barriers to access from the perspective of 
adolescent girls, to shed further light on 
why some girls are not going to or staying in 
school, and some of the successful initiatives 
reversing this trend. 

Too costly 

"Boys and girls are equal, and parents 
shouldn't discriminate against girls in terms 
of their school fees. " 

Justice, 16, Zimbabwe 

One of the main reasons adolescent girls are 
not attending school is cost. The focus of 
international development goals on primary 
education and universal access has meant that 
enormous political capital and resources have 
been devoted to making primary education 
free and accessible to all. Despite this, various 
- often hidden - costs continue to apply. This 
investment at primary level has also meant 
that the same level of resources has not been 
spent on secondary-level schooling which, in 

most countries, is not free from fees. 

In Cambodia, parents and pupils cite 'fees' 
as the most common reason why children 
are not in school, even though there are no 
official charges. 57 In a survey covering 50 
slums in Delhi, financial constraints were 
cited as the main reason for school-age 
children being out of school or dropping out, 
even though education is nominally free. 58 

"If I had limited resources I would send my 
son and not my daughter; sons are for outside 
and they stay with us when we are old." 

Father, Afghanistan 59 

Additionally, there are often significant hidden 
costs, such as paid tuition and extra lessons 
that are required for children to pass exams. 60 
Even at primary level, while official fees may 
not apply, these other costs alone can be 
prohibitive. In Thailand, for instance, the 
poorest families will spend almost 50 per cent 
of their income on a child's education every 
year. 61 When taking into consideration the low 
value parents may place on girls' education, 
the odds are stacked against a girl from a very 
poor household attending school. 

The hard decisions poor families face 
as a result come into focus as girls reach 
adolescence. The cost of sending girls to 
school rises with age. Girls' household labour 
and productive labour are critical for the 
poorest households to make ends meet. 
Parents may rely on daughters for childcare 
or to look after ailing family members so 
that they can go out to work. 62 Studies have 
shown that girls' education suffers more when 
parents do not have enough money to pay for 
all their children to attend. 63 In addition, with 
secondary education costs often three to five 
times higher than primary, poverty plays a 
prominent role in the low transition rates for 
girls and their withdrawal from education. 64 


Sur is 13 and is a refugee from Burma 
living in Thailand. She wants to write and 


i lit 

Sur at work. 


illustrate children's books and, recently, she 
entered a fairytale competition and won. 

But her life is far from a fairytale. Her 
daily routine is tough: she is up at 5am 
and cooks lunch. She spends the day at 
school, but when she gets home in the 
afternoon she cooks again and cleans; 
then it is bedtime. Over the weekends, 
she works in the fields with her parents 
all day. "/ don't like working; the sun is 
strong and I get very tired. "She knows 
her parents need the money she earns but 
for her, "the work is too hard for my age. 
I want to study, not work." 

Her dream is to go to college but she 
does not think she will be able to stay at 
school past Grade 12, when she will be 
15, "because we have no money". 

Too far from home 

"High schools are not located in the near 
locality. Boys and girls have to travel for a 
long distance to attend the school. Due to 
the lack of transport facility and poverty it is 
hard for them, especially girls, to travel for 
that distance in such an unsafe environment. 
If schools are established nearby then it 
might help the girls to get an education. " 

Father, Muzafargarh district, Pakistan 65 

Distance is a significant barrier to many girls' 
school attendance. The time it takes to get 
to school, dangers on the road, and the risks 
and costs of boarding, all compound to make 
the daily decision about whether or not to go 

to school more difficult for adolescent girls 
and their parents. 66 

In rural areas, there is often a local primary 
school, but there are fewer secondary 
schools and they are usually much further 
away. The distance girls need to travel to 
get to secondary school requires additional 
costs for travel or boarding, the dangers of 
long unprotected roads, and longer periods 
away from home, taking away from time to 
do chores, income-generating activities or 

In Pakistan, a half-kilometre increase in 
the distance to school will decrease girls' 
enrolment by 20 per cent. 67 In addition, a 
recent Population Council study in Pakistan 
suggested that a primary school within one 
kilometre raises predicted school attendance 
to 73 per cent for five to nine year-olds and 
to 65 per cent if a middle school or higher is 
nearby for 10 to 14 year-olds. If the primary 
school is more than four kilometres away, the 
probability of attendance falls to three per 
cent and in the case of middle school to 54 
per cent. 68 As girls start to reach puberty and 
families become more concerned about their 
safety and protecting their virginity and sexual 
maturity, the issue of distance becomes even 
more pertinent. 

Some positive work has been done to 
address this issue. Camfed, Plan International 
and others have established community-run 
boarding facilities for girls near secondary 
schools, which they demonstrate have an 
impact not only on girls' attendance and 
enrolment in secondary school, but also on 
girls' performance at school. 69 




Adolescent girls are denied access to education 
for a number of reasons which legislation and 
policy can tackle. For instance, Argentina enacted 
a Law for the Integral Protection of Children and 
Adolescents in 2005, which paid special attention 
to the education needs of adolescents from 
marginalised urban and rural areas, indigenous 
children, and children from migrant families, 
particularly illegal migrants. 70 

A landmark case in Hong Kong saw the Supreme 
Court hold that selection practices for secondary 
schools which ranked students by sex were 
discriminatory as they prevented some of the 
highest-achieving girls from getting accepted by 
the best schools. The court upheld the position 
that this was a violation of the Sex Discrimination 
Ordinance and the Committee for the Elimination 
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 
(CEDAW). It also emphasised that Article 10 of 
CEDAW creates an obligation for governments to 
eliminate gender stereotyping and stressed that 
unsubstantiated arguments that boys and girls 
develop differently did not justify discrimination 
against girls. 71 

The Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of 
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recently 
praised the government of Togo for offering to 
lower school fees for girls. But Togo's Universal 
Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights 
Council identified that a ministry of education 
circular still prohibits pregnant girls from attending 
school. 72 73 

Every year, thousands of girls are forced to 
leave education because they get married under 
the age of 18, become pregnant or are compelled 
to perform domestic labour duties. In countries 
including Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Swaziland, 
Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia, girls may 
be expelled from school if they become pregnant 
outside of marriage. This expulsion is based on 
cultural or religious grounds and re-entry into 
education is subsequently much more difficult. 

Forcing pregnant girls out of school contravenes 
the basic principle set out in the UN Convention 
on the Rights of the Child (1989) to protect the 

'best interest' of the child or adolescent as well as 
the recognised right to have access to secondary 
education on the basis of 'capacity' rather than 
family status or any other factor*. 7475 

Furthermore, the African Charter on the Rights 
and Welfare of the Child explicitly recognises the 
right of pregnant girls to an education**. 76 

Countries such as Kenya, Zambia, Botswana 
and Malawi have therefore explicitly recognised 
the right of girls to re-enter education after 
childbirth. 77 Tanzania changed its laws in 2010 
to allow young mothers to return to school 
and released guidelines on how to reintegrate 
adolescent mothers back into education, setting 
out extensive programmes to raise awareness of 
adolescents' rights. 7879 

However, some families seeking to protect girls 
from early pregnancy may resort to new measures 
that actually put them at risk. For example, in 
Cameroon, a country with a high 33 per-cent 
rate of teenage pregnancy, it recently emerged 
that the practice of 'breast ironing' was being 
used by families wishing to hide their adolescent 
girls' sexual development. 80 The Committee on 
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognised 
this new practice in its recent 2011 session and 
noted there is a legal vacuum' regarding the 
practice. 81 Cameroon committed to passing a draft 
bill on violence against women. 82 

Early marriage can also adversely affect an 
adolescent girl's right to education. In Tanzania the 
law still allows for adolescent girls to be married at 
14 years of age. While Tanzania reached universal 
primary education five years ahead of the 2015 
Millennium Development Goal target, marriage 
is one of the main reasons for female drop-out 
and exclusion from secondary education. 83 This is 
both an indication of the poor quality of education 
offered at primary level and of the importance of 
secondary education in preventing early marriage 
and pregnancy. Following the enactment of the Law 
of the Child Act (2009), civil society groups have 
highlighted universal secondary education as a 
solution to child marriage. 84 

* Also see International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994, Principle 10: "Everyone has the right to education, which shall be directed to the 
full development of human resources, and human dignity and potential, with particular attention to women and the girl child... The best interests of the child shall 
be the guiding principle of those responsible for his or her education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with the parents." 

** Article 11 (6) states: "6. States Parties to the present Charter shall have all appropriate measures to ensure that children who become pregnant before completing 
their education shall have an opportunity to continue with their education on the basis of their individual ability." 


Health and nutrition 

"The morning porridge I get at school is 
normally my first meal of the day because 
we rarely have enough food to eat at home. 
In the afternoon, I get porridge with pulses 
and this encourages me to come to school 
every day. " 

Lerato, 11, Bokong, Lesotho 85 

"Had I not come back to school, I would 
have ended up as a beggar. The biscuits 
gave me a reason to continue my studies 
and follow my dreams. " 

Rehena, 13, Bagerhat district, Bangladesh 86 

Another key reason why girls do not 
attend school regularly is their health. In 
the cohort of six year-old girls that Plan 
has been following since birth, health has 
been a consistent issue. In the countries 
with the lowest health indicators in the 
study - Togo, Benin and Uganda - the girls 
are not only facing a daily challenge of 
poor nutrition, but they are also battling a 
constant onslaught of illness and disease. 
In one particular family from Cambodia, 
lack of food has been a struggle for both 
mother and daughters (see Reaksa's story, 
page 51). 

Discrimination against girls within 
families can also contribute to their 
malnutrition. And as girls approach 
adolescence, their bodies change and 
menstruation begins, malnutrition can 
lead to anaemia (iron deficiency). Rates of 
anaemia for girls between the ages of 15 
and 19 are 55 per cent on average in India 
(with some regions reaching closer to 70 
per cent), 68 per cent in Mali and almost 
50 per cent in Tanzania, showing persistent 
poor nutrition of girls. 8788 Anaemia 
can lead to increased fatigue, poor 
concentration and lower cognitive ability. 
Health thus affects girls' ability to get to 
school and achieve once they are there. 
Also, food-insecure parents are more likely 
to send their daughters to school knowing 
they will receive at least one solid meal 
during the day without cutting into the 
family budget. When take-home rations 
are provided in addition to in-school 
feeding, poor families have an incentive 
to send their daughters to school and to 
maintain their school attendance. 89 


In Ghana, the World Food Programme 
(WFP) runs a school feeding programme, 
combining school meals with take-home 
rations, which are conditional on girls' 
attendance rates. The programme has had 
a huge impact on girls' enrolment, which 
surged by 46 per cent in one year alone; 
on girls' attendance rates, which need to 
be 85 per cent for girls to qualify for take- 
home rations; and on girls' retention, 
which stood at 99 per cent. 90 

The success of the school feeding 
programme in Ghana is expressed not 
just by the statistics but by Rashidatu, 
a class six pupil in Our Lady of Peace 
Primary School in Bimbilla, Ghana. 
She told the WFP that in the past 
several students would collapse out 
of weakness during morning school 
assembly. However, since the start of 
the school feeding programme, she says 
these incidents have almost entirely 
stopped. Other measures, such as 
school vegetable gardens, have also 
proven useful in ensuring girls and 
boys have one nutritious meal a day at 





Reaksa and 
her mother. 

Six year-old Reaksa is the eldest daughter of Teur 
and Teh, farm labourers from the Siem Reap 
province of Cambodia. Reaksa's mother, Teur, was 
orphaned during the Khmer Rouge genocide and 
as a result received no formal education. Reaksa, 
Teur's first child, was born at home. Her birth 
weight recorded at 2.7 kilograms, suggesting that 
Teur was malnourished during the pregnancy. 
Indeed, over the years, Reaksa's parents have 
explained that, like many other families in rural 
Cambodia, they have been unable to feed their 
family well throughout the year. The family's main 
income comes from their mother, Teur, who travels 
15 kilometres from home each day to work as a 
farm labourer. 

Since we first met Reaksa and her family, she 
has suffered from persistent chest infections and 
occasional convulsions, compounded by a succession 
of serious illnesses. In 2009, Reaksa was taken to 
Siem Reap Children's Hospital, 50 kilometres from 


her home, where she was diagnosed with multiple 
infections - meningitis, dengue fever and acute 
respiratory infection. Then, she nearly died in 2010 
due to a bad reaction to medication. Reaksa's 
younger sister, Sophea, who is four, also suffers from 
poor health and is unable to walk properly. Teur 
estimates that Sophea is unwell for three weeks of 
each month. 

Although medical treatment in Cambodia is free 
for the poorest families, the fact that the nearest 
hospital is located almost 50 kilometres away from 
Reaksa's home means that the family has large 
transportation costs - of around $5 per trip - to 
bear. In 2009, Teur ended up owing her employer 
$50 as she had requested a salary advance in order 
to visit Reaksa in hospital. Teur confirmed that 
"the most difficult part of raising children is to find 
money to feed them and to help them when they 
are sick". 

When researchers visited the family this year, 
Teur explained that the family's situation is much 
improved. Her current job, where she is paid 50 
kilograms of rice per month, has helped ensure 
that the family has been better fed. Despite the 
challenges they face, Teur is fiercely determined 
that her daughters go to school. Reaksa told us 
that she wants to be a teacher. However, until this 
year, Reaksa's poor health had prevented her from 
regularly attending pre-school. Teur now tells us that 
Reaksa has been much better over the past year; she 
is enrolled and attending pre-school regularly. She 
expects Reaksa to start primary school in September 
and explains: " \ am proud of my children because 
they all are very smart." 


The burden of care and housework 

"Sending an older girl to school is a wasted 
opportunity. What is a girl for if she cannot 
help her mother? " 

Grandmother, Mali 

"I really want to study. I studied up to 
class five, but because of circumstances, 
my family now keeps me at home. I do 
household chores and farm work. My two 
elder brothers studied up to class eight. . . 
but my older sister, who is 20, hasn't studied 
at all. Nobody in my family supports my 
studies. If I got free notebooks, maybe I 
could study. If others also did housework, 
then I would have time to study. " 

Munni, 13, Uttar Pradesh, India 

Girls' enrolment and regular attendance 
in school is affected not only by their own 
health, but also by the health of their 
families. In most countries across the world, 
the burden of care is feminised, falling on the 
shoulders of girls and women. 

In 15 South and East African countries, 
for example, students were absent from 
school for 1.5 days per month on average. 
Over 55 per cent of these pupils said 
they were absent because they were ill or 
had to visit a doctor. But a further 15 per 
cent reported they were absent because 
they needed to take care of a sick family 
member. 92 UNAIDS highlighted that 90 per 
cent of care for people living with AIDS, 
for example, takes place in the home. 93 
Research has shown that this kind of care 
work is much more likely to be done by 
adolescent girls, with severe impacts on 
their education. 94 

Care work does not have to be for ill 
or HIV-positive relatives, as Talent's story 
shows. Research in South Africa, for 
example, found that almost a quarter of 
all children interviewed under age 15 were 
orphans, and had either lost their mother or 
both parents, leaving them responsible for 
their households. 95 

Research on fertility and schooling in 
Ghana has also shown that each additional 
younger sibling significantly increases the 
probability that an elder girl will drop out of 
school, particularly if younger siblings are 
younger than six years old. 96 

* A 

Talent, from Zimbabwe, looks after her 
younger siblings: 

"I am the head of my family: both my 
mother and my father left one day back 
when I was only eight years old without 
saying goodbye. I don't know where they 
went, but they left me to take care of my 
brothers and sisters, and I haven't heard 
anything from them since they left. So it's 
up to me and my brothers and sisters to 
feed ourselves. 

Every day in the high season I wake up 
very early before the sun comes up to go 
and try and get work in other people's 
fields so that I can find enough money 
for me and my brothers and sisters to 
eat. It is very hard work. I stay there 
in the fields working hard until about 
4pm. In the low season, I struggle to 
find work. I also do most of the cooking 
and housework, but sometimes my little 
brother will help, although he is only 
seven years old. 

I don't go to school anymore - 1 haven't 
been since 2009. There is not enough 
money to pay for my school fees. Maybe 
one day when my siblings are a bit older 
I could go back to school. I would learn 
and pass all my subjects, and then I 
could have a better Job and a better life. 
Sometimes, I dream about becoming a 
teacher or maybe a nurse. " 




In Pakistan, higher numbers of younger 
siblings increased adolescent girls' workload 
within the home. 98 In these instances, 
early childhood care and development, or 
kindergarten, programmes can be hugely 
beneficial in freeing up a girl's time and 
ensuring her younger siblings are taken care 
of while she is in school. 

Also, in many countries the work that 
boys and girls do is different - boys tend 
to do work like herding livestock, while 
girls do domestic chores. 99 It is the time 
burden of domestic work that is a particular 
issue - Plan's 'Building Skills for Life' study 
found that girls who go to school spend 65 
per cent of their time at home on domestic 
chores. 100 This figure was even higher - 74 
per cent - for out-of-school girls in the 
same countries. 101 And when the need for 
girls' help around the home intersects with 
preferences for educating sons, girls are 
much more likely than boys never to reach 
secondary school, or to drop out. 

Poverty is also a significant factor. 
Survey data in Egypt found a very strong 
relationship between household-level 
poverty, girls having to do long hours of 
domestic work and reduced attendance at 
school. 102 

Violence against girls 

"We don't have an indicator on how 
many girls are raped in schools. We're not 
tracking that. So what is not measured 
does not get done... What we have found 
is that [the] indicators drive what becomes 
important... And that's where the money 
goes to. " 

Female South African official, 2009 103 

"My mathematics teacher asked me to fall 
in love with him, but I found it difficult 
for me to do that. This became a problem 
between us. Any small mistake or bad thing 
I did I am almost always punished. This 
was one of the reasons I hate school and 
dropped out." 

Adolescent girl, Sierra Leone 104 

Globally, violence against girls in schools 
remains rife, particularly sexual violence 
perpetrated by fellow students and teachers. 
Exact numbers are hard to find, but the 
World Health Organisation estimated that 
in 2002 alone some 150 million girls and 73 
million boys under 18 experienced forced 
sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual 
violence. 105 Studies show that girls are 
most likely to be abused on their journey 
to or from school, in or near toilets, empty 
classrooms, computer rooms, libraries or 
dormitories or near the perimeter of school 
grounds. 106 

Violence in schools is in part driven by 
deeply entrenched cultural beliefs and 
attitudes towards children. 107 An internal 
survey carried out in 2007 across all the 
countries in which Plan operates found that 

Heading the 
household in 


the main school violence issues affecting 
the children are corporal punishment, sexual 
violence and bullying. 108 This evidence 
led Plan to create Learn Without Fear, a 
campaign to end violence against children in 
schools, with a particular focus on the main 
issues identified above. 

Learn Without Fear has found so many 
teachers are responsible for coercing girls into 
sexual acts in return for good grades that 
children have developed their own expressions 
to describe the phenomenon. For example, 
in Gabon, Cameroon and across the West 
Africa region generally, they use 'moyennes 
sexuellement transmissibles', meaning sexually 
transmitted grades, playing on the French 
acronym MST ('maladies sexuellement 
transmissibles' or sexually transmitted 
infections), and in Mali, 'la menace du bic 
rouge', the threat of the red ball point pen - 
bad grades if girls do not agree to the sexual 
advances of their teachers. 109 


"I did well in school, but I had to leave 
because of one of my teachers - he 
asked me to marry him and I refused his 
proposal. As he didn't appreciate this, 
he told me off all the time in front of 
my classmates which I couldn't stand. 
I spoke to my mother who wanted to 
in fluence my decision but I made my 
choice and I didn't intend to go back on 
it. As my mother knew I would stand by 
my decision, she ended up accepting that 
I would leave school. The whole village 
was talking about it and this led to the 
teacher moving schools. It's true that 
the teacher is not there anymore but I'd 
already dropped out. My father hasn't 
been happy since I left and he's been on 
at me saying that I need to decide either 
to get married or study. At that time I was 
going out with a guy from the village, 
but one of my cousins who I didn't like 
was trying to go out with me. And when 
I left school one week later, my father 
gave me in marriage to my cousin without 
warning. I decided to run away but I 
didn't have any money and my boyfriend 
advised me to stay as they would blame 
him if I went. I decided to stay and follow 
this advice but I knew I wouldn't last 

long in the marriage. I lost my virginity to 
my boyfriend even before I got married. 
A fter getting married I moved in with my 
husband but I argued with my husband 
every day as I re fused to sleep with 
him and he hit me. All the neighbours 
know he's always hitting me. The day 
before yesterday the neighbours told my 
mother and she came to get me straight 
away. Since then I've been staying at my 
parents' and I want to get divorced and 
marry my boyfriend as it's him who I love. 
This would never have happened if it 
wasn't for my teacher. " 

17 year-old girl, Senegal 

Parental support and aspirations 

There are complex reasons behind parents' 
lack of support for their daughters' 
education, as the issues of cost, health 
and safety explored so far in this chapter 
and issues of quality, explored in the next 
chapter, show. 

Parents' expectations and aspirations for 
girls change as they get older, and demands 
on their domestic work, worries about 
their health and protection and pressures 
to marry begin to mount. Plan's Building 
Skills for Life multi-country study found that 
parents' low expectations had a significant 
effect on girls' achievements. 110 While most 
adolescents - girls and boys - agreed that 
adults think school is important, only half 
of the adolescents felt they were given 
encouragement to take school seriously. 
Girls in Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Mali 
had a less positive attitude towards school 
and their teachers due to the negative 
attitudes their families and communities hold 
regarding schooling. 

Parental and community support of 
education is generally high across all 
countries. However, it was found that adults 
encourage boys to do well in education more 
than girls. In Rwanda significantly more boys 
(50 per cent) than girls (21 per cent) were 
encouraged to go to school. This correlated 
with findings in a number of countries 
including Pakistan, Mali, El Salvador and 
Malawi where parents didn't believe 
education would have a positive effect on 
girls' chances of transitioning into gainful 



Village life in 
Sierra Leone. 

So it is no surprise that adolescent girls 
struggle to learn; it is a vicious cycle with 
failure reinforcing negative stereotypes and 
breeding low attainment. 

"When I was young, about seven or eight 
years old, my mother said I could not go 
to school because I had to go with her to 
the rice fields. One day I got a notebook 
and went to the school anyway. My mother 
came and dragged me from the classroom 
and took me back to the fields. Then one 
night when I was 14 a man came into my 
bed. I asked him who he was and he said he 
was going to be my husband. My mother 
had agreed I would marry him. " 

Girl, 17, Bokeo, Laos 111 

A number of policies and projects have 
encouraged parents to get more involved 
in school-based management and decision- 
making in order to alleviate their fears about 
the care and protection of their daughters in 
school. UNICEF targets parents' involvement 
directly in its Child Friendly Schools. This is 
a whole-school programme operating at all 
levels of the school community, with a key 
plank to encourage parents, and especially 
mothers, to get involved in schools. While 
the programme has worked primarily at 

the basic level, it is extending to secondary 
education, and it reports a positive impact 
on girls' attendance and enrolment. 112 
Camfed also works to build parents' 
involvement in schools through community 
level committees and mothers' support 
groups. Camfed reports that women are now 
more likely to encourage their daughters 
to stay in school and to seek to address 
the barriers to girls' education through the 
community and school. 113 

In northern Nigeria, UNICEF is running 
the Girls' Education Programme, which 
is working closely with traditional and 
religious leaders to speak directly with 
fathers and mothers about the importance 
of sending and keeping their daughters in 
school. In this predominately Muslim area, 
the leaders talk to their communities about 
how they will not have female teachers 
and doctors to work with the women in 
the community if they do not encourage 
their daughters to get educated and train 
as teachers or doctors. This message 
has powerful resonance with these 
communities and has had a positive impact 
on girls' enrolment and attendance. 114 


Teenage pregnancy, child marriage and 
forced marriage 

"/ was so sad when my friend Limya, who 
was studying seventh grade, was suddenly 
married. She cried a lot. Though her parents 
promised her that she could continue her 
studies after marriage, it did not happen. 
There are many girls in my area who drop 
out of school due to early marriage. " 

Noha, 16, Sudan 115 

"I want to say many girls drop out of 
school because they are confused by men. 
You cannot remain in class when you are 
pregnant, because the teachers will not 
allow it and other girls will not support you 
as a friend. " 

Gloria, 20, South Sudan 

There is no more abrupt end to a childhood 
than marriage or becoming a mother. For 
adolescent girls, marriage and motherhood 
are often connected, but not always. But 
whichever comes first - pregnancy or 
marriage - girls who face either usually also 
face an end to their education. 

As we have mentioned earlier, one in seven Out-of-school 

girls in the world is married before 18 teenage 

and one in four is a mother before 18. 116 mother in 

Delaying marriage and pregnancy has a Niger. 

number of benefits for girls. A girl aged 16 

or under is four times more likely to face the 

risk of maternal mortality than a woman 

over the age of 20. 117 Early marriage is also 

associated with increased risk of intimate 

partner violence and social isolation. 118 In 

addition, the younger a girl is when she gets 

married, the more likely she is to enter into 

a polygamous union or marry a man much 

older than she is, which is correlated with 

increased domestic violence. 119 

So while the two issues, pregnancy and 
child marriage, should be treated separately 
in terms of the experiences and backgrounds 
of the girls at risk, in terms of how they 
affect a girl's life and her education they can 
be very similar. 

Naomi lives in a rural area in Ethiopia. 
She is 10 years old. Naomi would like 
to become a teacher and be able to 
support her parents financially. She 



does not want to marry until later as 
she feels that "education is better for 
me". She worries about the state of her 

"Sometimes the illness [malaria] is 
strong and I am absent from school on 
these days. This disappoints me. I have a 
strong fear that the illness may continue 
deteriorating rather than improving and 
this may hamper my education and other 
aspects of my life. " 

Naomi also fears that her parents may 
force her to get married. But her mother 
wants her daughter to have opportunities 
that were denied to her due to her own 
early marriage: 

"Education is the most important thing 
to change her life; it is the best alternative 
for girls at present. This is my wish but 
I do not know her father's intention... 
He has a strong interest to marry them 
[their daughters] to somebody; and to 
get the bride wealth from the family of 
the husband. If one of my daughters will 
be taken tomorrow, the next day the 
families of the husband will bring a huge 
amount of money - 1,000 birr ($56.80) 
at the beginning, and five cattle and 
additional money will come at the next 
time. Sometimes the girls may be taken 
while they play with their friends or go 
to the house of neighbours to pass on a 

However, Naomi's mother feels that 
her brothers (Naomi's uncles) will help 
her persuade her husband not to marry 
off Naomi until she has completed 
her education. She also explains that 
Naomi's brothers, particularly the 
elder one, advised her to be strong in 
her education and persuaded her to 
continue when she considered dropping 
out in order to work to support the 

For the coming year Naomi will go 
to school locally, but after that her 
mother believes that it would be better 
for her to continue in town. This brings 
additional fears of her daughter being 
raped or being exposed to illness. But 
she also feels reassured that Naomi 
"will not face any problem because 
her brothers, her uncles and her 
grandmother are there". 

Some governments have tackled these 
issues by trying to remove barriers to young 
mothers and married girls attending school. 
This includes offering alternative routes 
through education, as mentioned earlier in 
this chapter, and through specific policies 
protecting girls' right to education regardless 
of whether they are married or have children. 

In Malawi, only 31 per cent of girls 
complete primary school and just 11 per 
cent graduate from secondary school, with 
drop-out rates for girls far exceeding those 
for boys. 121122 Teenage mothers face even 
tougher odds. 123 Although there is an official 
policy to allow young mothers back to school 
in Malawi, it requires following prohibitively 
difficult and bureaucratic procedures. 124 

In Zambia in 1997 the government adopted 
a new policy to help pregnant girls and young 
mothers to stay in school. Supported by the 
Federation of African Women Educationalists 
(FAWE) - which trained teachers, raised 
awareness and examined practice in schools 
- the policy has had a positive impact on girls 
staying in school longer and reduced drop-out 
as a result of pregnancy. 125 


"I am 18 years old, and in Grade 12. My 
parents are both dead. I live with my 
uncle and aunt. My aunt's nephew also 
lived with us, and one day he came into 
the room and raped me. When I didn't 
have my period for two months, I knew I 
was pregnant. . . The following day I did 
not have the courage to get up and go to 
school. In fact, I realised that school was 
over for me. My aunt went to school and 
told the head that I was pregnant and 
could not continue with my education. 
The head asked to see me. When I went 
to see her she told me that I could go 
back to the same school after weaning 
my baby... In January 2004, 1 re-entered 
school. My uncle has taken me back into 
his home. I am lucky to get a second 
chance in life. I admit I used to be playful 
before. I am very serious now. The school 
has been wonderful. The teachers and all 
my fellow students treat me normally. If 
anyone has said something nasty about 
me, I haven't heard about it." 

Young woman, 18, Zambia 


Seven per cent of girls in South Sudan 
are married off before the age of 15 
and another 45 per cent are married off 
between the age of 16 and 18. 126 Plan's 
'Right to Choose' project in South Sudan 
works to increase access to education for 
girls and young women, by reducing early 
marriage as well as supporting married 
or pregnant girls to continue with their 

The project aims to change the mindset 
of pupils by sharing messages about 
the negative impacts of some cultural 
beliefs and practices. The project operates 
girls' clubs in non-formal settings using 
a variety of activities such as radio and 
group discussions to talk about issues 
such as health, particularly sexual and 
reproductive health, and education. 

Gloria is the mother of two boys and 
she participates in the project: "/ like 
school. I like studying and learning. I am 
planning to return when my baby is old 
enough. He is only seven months old 
but when he is a year old I will go back 
to study. Education is very important for 
girls; that is why I want to go back to 
school. My mother likes me to continue 
studying. She gives me encouragement to 
finish my education. I would like all my 
children to study. Girls and boys have to 
study. I am a mother of two boys now and 
when I give birth to a baby girl she will 
have the same rights as boys.' n27 

Early marriage is closely linked with harmful Gloria at the 
practices and beliefs with respect to the roles girls' club. 
of girls and women in society. Changing 
these attitudes requires close coordination 
with traditional and religious leaders as well 
as work across multiple sectors, including 
health and labour policymakers, as we will 
see in discussing gender roles. 

To assess meaningful access, so that 
policymakers can get a real picture of 
whether or not girls' right to education is 
being realised, governments and educators 
need to measure attendance together with 
enrolment, transition and completion. 
Building on the research of Keith Lewin, 
Professor of Education at the University of 
Sussex, an 'access index' that captures all 
these measures will reveal the consistency 
and the depth of the commitment made 
to girls' education. This will show what is 
happening during the school year, not just 
at the beginning and the end. 128 

To give the most accurate picture of 
adolescent girls' access to education, data 
needs to be disaggregated by poverty 
level, location and ethnicity within 
countries. Recent research has advocated 
for equity-adjusted measures so that 
countries with high income inequality, 
where poor girls have far worse enrolment 

Gloria and 

penalised in any national level statistics. 129 her children. 



Current measures make no allowances 
for wealth, which allows the increases 
in rich girls going to school to mask the 
staggering numbers of very poor girls 
who are not. 

6 The continuing constraints of 

"What emerges from the data is that 
girls are identified with their sexual and 
domestic roles, whereas boys are seen 
as providers and household heads. In our 
research, a girl as future wife and mother 
carries little value. She is a demeaned 
person not seen as worthy of rights. This 
demeaned identity remains a key barrier to 
girls accessing their right to education once 
they reach adolescence." 

Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, Social 
Development and Gender Equity Team, 
Royal Tropical Institute 

This bleak summary is based on the 
findings of a nine-country study carried 
out for Plan which sought to unpick the 
reasons behind girls' increased drop-out 
rates at puberty. 130 The study found that 
in many countries an adolescent girl's 
place continues to be very much in the 
home, and this has ramifications for her 
access to education. "Boys' education is 
more important than girls'," one man in 
Cambodia commented. "The boy will be 
head of the family in the future." 

Even within the confines of a future 
domestic life, girls like Harika (below) 
can see the merits of getting as much 
education as she can. She knows that her 
family will insist on marriage for her but 
she is still fighting to stay in school; her 
pragmatism is enabling her to get what 
she wants within the confines of the life 
she knows. Who knows how far the next 
generation will travel? 

Harika lives in rural Andhra Pradesh and 
is from an economically and socially 
disadvantaged community. She explains 
how she wanted to study, "but my 
parents said J no' in the beginning. Later, 
when I insisted, they agreed to send 
me for further studies." She elaborates: 
"If they send me for further studies I 
need to continue, and if any marriage 
proposals come in between, I will have to 
discontinue. For that reason, my mother 
had said 'no'. My father said that I should 
study and whatever happens in the future, 
we shall see." 

Harika's brother has been supportive 
of her education: "He is the one who 
convinced my parents to send me to 
college. " 

Harika views education as a route to a 
better life: "If you study well, you will get 
an educated husband." This would enable 
her to escape from farming: "If you get 
a husband who is in agriculture, you will 
have to go to the fields and work; and if 
you get an educated husband, you can be 
happy [... J We see our parents working 
and we feel that we should not be like 
that. . . they work in the fields and work 
hard every day. " 

Girls are often seen as the custodians of 
family honour. Parents and even brothers 
feel that girls' behaviour, life choices and 
attitudes reflect upon the family's honour 
and on how well the family is perpetuating 
and protecting their culture. 

"They say that it is a matter of their honour 
and they - girls - have no right to make 
their own decision. The 'wadhera' (landlord) 
of this village has great influence on girls' 
education. " 

Headteacher, Muzafargarh 
District, Pakistan 132 

Traditional and religious leaders can, but 
do not always, perpetuate this view of 
girls. One religious leader in Pakistan says: 
"In our village, girls have no right to make 
suggestions regarding the most important 
decisions of their lives, although there is no 
such limitation or restriction in Islam. If the 
parents had been given religious education, 

they might not deprive their children of 
education." 133 

Families and communities often feel that 
with formal education they will lose' their 
girls, that they will become modern or 
Westernised. Further, girls' mobility can be 
restricted by some religious communities and 
sex-segregated schooling may be mandatory. 
Wherever they come from, these gendered 
expectations and constraints can affect girls' 
ability to access education as well as their 
own desire to go. 

In highly traditional societies, such as 
in the north of Nigeria, few girls will be 
found in the formal education system, 
but large numbers of girls are enrolled in 
Islamic Schools. 134 These schools are for 
girls only, are community-run and teach 
a limited Qur'anic curriculum. Islamic 
schools pose a significant challenge to the 
mainstream education system, by providing 
an alternative education for girls that is seen 
as safe and acceptable, but which is also 
teaching girls to be subservient to men. 135 
The current policy of the government is to 
work to integrate mainstream subjects into 
the curriculum of these schools, thereby 
extending basic subjects to girls while 
retaining the safe and acceptable nature of 
the schools. 136 


Development in Literacy (DIL) works in 
some of the hardest-to-reach areas of 
Pakistan to provide safe, community- 
based schools for girls. It delivers a 
high quality education, with a focus on 
teacher training and using the latest 
technology in schools. At the same 
time, the organisation works closely 
with local community leaders and 
parents to ensure that the schools are 
seen to be acceptable for girls in the 
communities. As a result of its work, 
Development in Literacy was able to 
establish the first secondary school for 
girls in Upper Dir, a very conservative 
tribal district of Pakistan on the border 
of Afghanistan. 137 




While access to education has improved 
globally, there are significant numbers 
of girls who, as they reach adolescence, 
have little or no part in this progress. 
In this chapter, we have offered a brief 
view of which girls are getting lost in the 
national statistics - the very poor, the 
geographically isolated and girls whose 
families see them only in terms of their 
domestic roles. 

As we have seen, there are many reasons 
why girls are likely to drop out of school 
during adolescence, particularly around the 
ages of 14 and 15. 138 In many countries, the 
transition between primary and secondary 
school sees girls' enrolment drop sharply, and 

it is to these transitions that better attention 
needs to be paid. 139 

Without looking at the social, economic 
and psychological environments in which 
girls grow up; without looking at the 
context of their lives or their parents' and 
communities' views of them, we are unlikely 
to realise girls' right to education. Both girls 
and the societies they live in will benefit if 
more girls go to school, but enrolment alone 
doesn't show whether girls are actually 
attending school. Securing girls' rights to 
access a full course of secondary education 
remains a significant challenge, and without 
tackling the issues we have explored in this 
chapter, it will not be met in this generation 
or the next. 


Cynthia B Lloyd looks at the implications of conditional cash transfers 
and scholarships in support of girls' education 

Conditional cash transfers (CCT) began in Latin 
America in the late 1990s as comprehensive anti- 
poverty programmes combining social assistance 
with incentives for human capital formation. 
In many poor settings, parents under-invest in 
their children's schooling even when there are no 
school fees and schooling returns are high. This 
is because basic survival requires their children's 
participation in the work required to sustain the 
family. The original cash transfer programmes 

- Progresa/Oportunidades in Mexico and Bolsa 
Escola in Brazil, for example - were designed to 
provide a safety net for poor people, while at the 
same time encouraging them to make greater 
health and educational investments in their 
children. The education and health goals of the 
programme were secondary to the anti-poverty 
goals and helped increase the political support for 
the programmes. 1 Poor parents - typically mothers 

- living in catchment areas with high poverty 
rates - were provided with cash conditional on 
particular behaviours, such as their children's school 
attendance and/or health clinic visits. In recent 
years, the programmes have spread beyond Latin 
America and have been adapted to policy priorities 
beyond poverty reduction, including the direct 
promotion of girls' education. 140 

Both cash transfers and scholarships reduce the 
cost of schooling but do so in different ways. N 
The former provide incentives to parents, while 
scholarships provide incentives to children. 
Incentives to parents in the form of cash benefits 
are unlikely to affect their children's intrinsic 
motivations towards education in the early years. 141 
By the time children reach adolescence, however, 
there is the possibility that a scholarship could 
be empowering for girls, further reinforcing its 
educational benefits. In the case of benefits, there 
are no restrictions on how the cash is spent, as long 
as the attendance or performance requirements 
of the programme are fulfilled. Scholarships, 
on the other hand, are restricted to educational 
expenditures, and sometimes even to enrolment in 
a particular school or set of schools. Scholarships 
are more typical at the post-primary level, where 

school fees are still common. Scholarship funds 
are provided either directly to participating 
schools to cover designated students' fees, or to 
eligible children in the form of stipends tied to the 
payment of school fees. The Girls Scholarship Fund 
in Bangladesh, which began in 1994, is the best- 
known example. 

New programme models have emerged in recent 
years that combine incentives to both parents 
and children, as well as both cash and in-kind 
payments, blurring the traditional distinctions 
between conditional cash transfers and scholarship 

A decade ago, the early success of the 
programmes in Latin America in boosting enrolment 
and attendance drew international attention. They 
came to be seen as a promising model not only to 
address Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1, 
that targets poverty reduction, but also MDG 2 
and MDG 3, which relate to the achievement of 
universal primary completion and gender equity in 

Now that data has become available on learning 
outcomes, there is growing recognition of a crisis 
of educational quality. 142 As a result, international 
attention is shifting from targets relating to 
educational enrolment and attendance to targets 
addressing key dimensions of learning, forcing a 
reassessment of earlier educational strategies. In 
addition, the rapid integration of disadvantaged 
children into already overstretched classrooms is 
challenging the international goal of providing 
education of adequate quality for all. 

Conditional cash transfers with an educational 

Cash transfer programmes with an educational 
component have varied substantially in scope, from 
national anti-poverty initiatives such as Progresa/ 
Opportunidades in Mexico to regional or pilot 
programmes with an exclusive focus on education, 
such as Pakistan's Punjab education sector reform 
project. 143 In most cases, conditions for participation 
have been defined in terms of some minimum level 
of monthly attendance; rarely do conditions include 

i In the same way that welfare for the poor in the US was made more politically palatable in the US through a reform instituted during the Clinton administration that 
incentivised transitions from welfare to work. 

ii Scholarships are alternatively called 'stipends'. The terms 'scholarship' and 'stipend' are used interchangeably. 



requirements related to test performance or skill 

While none of the early anti-poverty programmes 
were explicitly designed to address gender gaps, 
more recent examples, such as those in Pakistan 
and Malawi, have been restricted to girls only. 
Those with an education component have all shown 
significant increases in enrolment and longer-term 
gains in grade attainment, particularly where 
enrolment rates were low before the programme 
began, with the largest gains taking place in 
transitional grades. 144 - 145 

Clear targeting goals and effective mechanisms 
to establish eligibility and monitor compliance 
are all critical elements. Programmes often use a 
combination of geographic and household targeting 
to make sure that benefits get exclusively to those in 
need. The earliest programmes set a high standard 
for monitoring and evaluation, most notably 
Progresa in Mexico that started on a pilot basis as a 
randomised trial before being scaled up to national 
coverage. 146 

Those designed as a safety net for the poor 
provide cash transfers of the same value to parents 

for the enrolment of boys and girls. The only 
exception has been Progresa/Opportunidades in 
Mexico, where mothers got higher cash transfers for 
their girls than their boys for enrolment at secondary 
and high-school level because of a slight gender 
gap at these levels at the time the programme 
began. Not all studies assessing the impact of these 
programmes on enrolment have looked at gender 
differences in outcomes. Behrman, Parker and Todd 
(2011), in a recent review of gender effects, find that 
in most cases where gender differences have been 
measured, the effects on enrolment have been the 
same for both boys and girls. The exceptions have all 
shown slightly greater improvements for boys than 

Several studies have addressed the issue of 
whether conditionality improves programme 
effectiveness with respect to educational 
outcomes. 147 The answer is an unequivocal 'yes'. 
In the case of Mexico's Progresa, children whose 
attendance was monitored had significantly greater 
attendance, particularly children transitioning 
from primary school to lower secondary school'''. 148 
More recently, a randomised pilot study in Malawi 

iii These conclusions were drawn from a comparison of the enrolment of children whose parents inadvertently did not receive the form to monitor attendance to the 
enrolment of children whose attendance was monitored. 


compared the effects of an unconditional cash 
transfer (UCT) for school girls aged 13 to 22 
with a cash transfer (CCT) conditional on 80 
per cent monthly school attendance and found 
that conditioning the transfer reduced drop-out 
rates substantially and also had a modest but 
significant positive impact on English learning 
comprehension. 149 

Recent research studies assessing the impact of 
conditional cash transfer programmes designed 
exclusively for girls in Pakistan and Malawi provide 
some further details about implementation in two 
very different settings. 

In Pakistan, roughly half of Punjab's districts with 
the lowest literacy rates were chosen in late 2003 for 
a conditional cash transfer programme to support 
girls enrolled in government schools. iv 

Each girl in Grades 6 to 8 who maintained 
an average class attendance rate of 80 per cent 
received a monthly stipend valued at Rs 200 
($2.20) v . 150 ' 151 In 2006 r the stipend was extended 
to girls enrolled in high school Grades 9 to 10. 152 
One of the longer-term objectives was to increase 
the supply of female teachers and health service 
providers in poor areas where female education has 
been historically low and, therefore, where girls' 
schools are hard to staff. 

A rigorous research study assessing the impact 
of the Pakistani programme over its first four years 
found increases in the number of girls enrolled, due 
to a decline in drop-out rates, ranging from 11 to 32 
per cent, depending on the cohort. 153 Furthermore, 
younger cohorts of girls who were exposed to the 
programme later were found to be more likely to 
continue to high school. Eligibility was not means- 
tested, so all female students could get cash support. 
This increased the expense of the programme 
because girls who would have attended school 
anyway were also beneficiaries. 

Other analyses of the programme explored some 
of its unintended consequences - some negative and 
some positive: 154 

1 First, it encouraged boys' enrolment as well, 
probably because parents were reluctant to send 

girls to school without also sending boys. 155 

2 Second, mothers of eligible daughters increased 
their time spent on housework by about two hours 
a day to compensate for their daughter's absence 
from home. 156 

3 Third, there was a rise in the student-teacher ratio 
in participating districts due to the enrolment 
increases, with potentially negative implications for 
school quality. 157 

4 Finally, urban schools contributed 
disproportionately to the overall enrolment gains 
for the programme. 

It is likely that the impacts would have varied 
across each district according to girls' middle school 
availability. This is because not all rural girls have 
access to a middle school nearby. 158 These studies 
illustrate some of the many potential issues to 
consider when measuring programme impact; few 
studies in other countries have gone beyond looking 
at enrolment impacts. 

The most extensive evaluation to date of a 
pilot cash transfer programme in support of girls' 
education is in Malawi, where a randomised trial 
has tested the impact of conditional cash transfers 
(CCTs) against unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) 
against no transfers in 176 enumeration areas of 
Zomba district in Southern Malawi. Unmarried girls 
aged 13 to 22, regardless of grade attended, were 
the target group vi . The programme paid school fees 
for any eligible girls attending secondary school, 
because there are still school fees for secondary 
school in Malawi while primary schools are free. 

The evaluation measured the effects on 
enrolment, attendance and test scores for in-school 
female adolescents - representing 87 per cent of 
the target population - over two years vii . 159 Separate 
transfers were provided to girls and their parents 
and the amounts were varied and randomised in 
order to test the gains from higher awards as well 
as the trade-offs between parents and girls as 
recipients. 160 The results show increased enrolment 
and improved daily attendance for those in school, 
as well as modest increases in test scores. The 
conditional transfers were found to be more cost 

iv All government schools in Pakistan are single-sex with only female teachers teaching in girls' schools and male teachers teaching in boys' schools. Low-fee private 
schools have become increasingly common in Pakistan but girls enrolled in private schools were not eligible for the programme. 

v In most settings, girls' attendance rates are similar to boys and sometimes better. Even though female students spend roughly one more hour a day working outside of 
school than boys, the school day in Pakistan is relatively short (4.5 to 5 hours) and children are able to handle their domestic responsibilities while attending school. This 
figure is slightly more than the per-student out-of-pocket cost of middle school in the government system.. 

vi In Malawi, many female students aged 13-22 are still attending a primary school that has eight grades or standards. 

vii Initial cash offers to girls and their parents were only made for the 2008 school year due to funding uncertainties and were subsequently extended to the 2009 
school year but not beyond. 



effective in increasing female enrolment than the 
unconditional ones, even with relatively modest 
cash transfers. 

In a setting of extreme poverty, relatively small 
amounts were sufficient to induce a meaningful 
change in behaviour. There were similar 
improvements in enrolment regardless of who 
received the payment - the girl or her parent. It 
would be interesting to know what happened after 
the pilot was terminated - did the girls who had 
benefited drop out, or did they continue in school? 
Even if they subsequently dropped out, they would 
have received more education than otherwise and 
will hopefully have a brighter future thanks to the 

Girls' scholarship programmes 

Girls' scholarships are a common feature of 
educational programmes designed to support 
adolescent girls in poor countries. Lloyd and 
Young (2009) found that, out of the 322 initiatives 
documented in their programme compendium, 43 
per cent provided scholarships or stipends. However, 
few, if any, had been evaluated in terms of their 
impact on either enrolment or learning, much less 
their cost effectiveness. 

The largest and best known of these programmes 
is the girls' secondary school scholarship scheme 
in Bangladesh. Girls' enrolment rates in secondary 
- school increased substantially in response. 161 As a 
= result, gender parity has been achieved in secondary- 
's school enrolment in Bangladesh. 162 This would not 

have been possible without a rapid expansion of 
secondary-school places, partially achieved through 
the feminisation of Islamic schools. In 1994, female 
students attending recognised 'madrasas' became 
eligible to receive a stipend under the government's 
scholarship programme, thus expanding girls' 
access to secondary schools at the same time that 
secondary-school attendance was being made more 
affordable for girls. Questions have been raised 
about targeting mechanisms, as many of the benefits 
of the programme actually accrued to girls from 
better-off families. 163 Further questions have been 
raised about educational quality given that little is 
known about how madrasas compare with other 
types of school in terms of learning outcomes or 
gender differences. 

Since 2004, the Ambassadors Girls' Scholarship 
Program funded by USAID has provided nearly 
500,000 scholarships to girls in 41 African countries. 164 
Implementation, which was the responsibility of local 
NGOs, varied from country to country. A review 
in several participating countries - including Sierra 
Leone and Djibouti - raised some questions about 
the implementation of the eligibility criteria for the 
programme as well as about its sustainability at 
the end of the project period viii . 165 In settings where 
poverty is pervasive, the funds rarely cover all the 
'eligible' girls, sometimes creating conflicts between 
scholarship recipients and others, particularly within 
the same school. Furthermore, it is not known what 
percentage of the scholarship recipients would have 
attended school in any case, or what has happened 
in beneficiary communities since the programme has 
been terminated. 

Several research studies, assessing the impact 
of girls' scholarship programmes in very different 
settings in Cambodia and Kenya, provide examples 
of recent experiences with scholarships designed for 
very different objectives. In the case of Cambodia, 
the goal was to increase grade attainment among 
girls, whereas in Kenya the goal was to improve 
learning outcomes. 

In 2004, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction 
set up a scholarship programme for girls in lower 
secondary schools in Cambodia. Approximately 
93 - or 15 per cent - of lower secondary schools 
participated in the programme, with 45 girls eligible 
for scholarships in each school. ix Girls seeking 
scholarship support needed to apply during their sixth 

viii Eligibility criteria included girls (1) orphaned or in a single-parent home, (2) handicapped or disabled, (3) economically disadvantaged and (4) merit according to 
past school performance. 

ix While it is known as a scholarship programme, it does not subsidise the fee paid by parents to the school but instead provides cash to the parents conditioned on 
good attendance (less than 10 days absent a year) and passing grades. 


grade year for entry into one of the eligible lower 
secondary schools. Each school's local management 
committee was tasked with identifying the neediest 
girls. Filmer and Schady (2008) estimated that the 
enrolment and attendance rates among scholarship 
recipients were approximately 30 percentage points 
higher than they would have been in the absence 
of the programme, and larger impacts were found 
among the poorest girls. These effects are large, 
suggesting that the scope for improvements in 
enrolment and attendance are greatest in places such 
as Cambodia, where girls have suffered the greatest 
disadvantage. The impact on learning outcomes has 
not been assessed and it is not known whether or not 
the programme is still in existence. 

A very different approach to girls' scholarships 
was piloted in two poor rural districts in Kenya, 
where a local NGO awarded scholarships to the 
highest-scoring 15 per cent of girls enrolled in 
Grade 6 in a randomly selected set of schools. The 
best-performing girls attending schools taking part 
received scholarship awards for Grades 7 and 8 - 
the last two grades of primary school in Kenya x . 166 
The girls' school fees were covered directly by the 
programme and a grant was also provided to parents 
for school-related expenses. The programme, 
which ran for two years and was then ended, 
showed improvements in test scores not just for the 
scholarship recipients but also for other girls and 
even boys attending the schools. xi 
These positive side-effects are likely to be due to 
improvements in teacher attendance and positive 
peer effects among students. In a five-year follow- 
up after the pilot ended, it was found that girls 
attending programme schools showed some 
evidence of greater empowerment compared with 
girls attending non-programme schools as measured 
by the percentage having entered into arranged 
marriage and the percentage who found domestic 
violence acceptable xii . 167 

Many international NGOs have scholarships for 
girls and each programme has different criteria 
for eligibility, including ranges of grades or ages 
supported by the programme, conditions for receipt 
and approach to implementation. 168 None of these 
programmes has yet to complete a rigorous impact 

evaluation that would allow a determination of its 
effects on enrolment, attainment or learning, and 
its cost effectiveness as measured by dollars spent 
relative to additional person-years of educational 
exposure or relative to tests score gains per 


in ^un Koom to Read reported having over 
13,500 girls enrolled in their Girls' Education 
programme in eight countries, primarily in Asia. 
Currently, the organisation is transitioning to a 
school-based model for providing educational 
support to girls xiii . This enhanced model has 
emerged from a period of self-evaluation and 
reflects a new strategic vision with the goal of 
increasing girls' chances of completing secondary 
school with the skills necessary for negotiating 
key life decisions and successful transitions to 
adulthood. Along with development of this more 
holistic model, Room to Read has committed to 
conducting an external, multi-year evaluation in 
order to continue to improve its girls' educational 

The first step in implementing the new model 
is identifying communities with both economic 
needs and persistent gender inequalities in 
education that also show potential for success in 
terms of community engagement and institutional 
functionality. In selected communities, Room to 
Read plans to work with government schools, 
typically at the lower secondary level, to provide a 
package of educational enhancements including, 
among others, life skills, mentoring, academic 
support and gender-responsive teacher training. 
For a small number of the neediest girls in each 
school, who will be selected through a transparent 
community-based process, they will also provide 
'material support' xiv . 

Communities that are benefiting are asked 
to make a 'challenge grant' to signal their co- 
investment and commitment to the goals of the 
programme and the material support component 
for the individual girls is kept to a minimum 
in order to promote within-school equity and 
sustainability. xv 

x Scores were based on district-wide Ministry of Education exams across five subjects. 

xi On the other hand, merit scholarship recipients tended to come from families whose parents had significantly more years of schooling. 

xii e.g. Room to Read, CAMFED, DIL, FAWE, World Vision. 

xiii At the same time, they are committed to continuing to support their first cohort of girls through the completion of secondary school. 

xiv Material support includes coverage of both direct and indirect costs of schooling. Direct costs include school and exam fees, textbooks, school supplies and 
uniforms. Indirect costs include transportation (e.g. bus fare or bicycles) and boarding. 

xv With thanks to Emily Leys, Director of the Girls' Schooling Program at Room to Read, for information about their programme. 



Implications of past experience for future 
programme design 

A range of insights about conditional cash transfers 
and scholarships for girls can be drawn from the 
literature reviewed, much of which has relied on 
evidence from pilot programmes that have only 
lasted a few years. These include that: 

1 Conditionality enhances impact. 

2 Impact is greatest if focused on girls at points of 
transition in the education system. 

3 Gains are greatest in the poorest settings and 
among the poorest girls. 

4 School accessibility can 
constrain impact. 

5 Enrolment and 
attendance gains do 
not necessarily translate 
into improvements in 
learning outcomes. 

However, issues of 
cost effectiveness and 
sustainability remain 
elusive. In most cases, 
conditional cash transfers 
and scholarships are 
externally funded. None 
of the programmes 
described above have 
been sustained without 
donor assistance. 

In particular, I have 
not found any studies 
that have measured 
cost effectiveness of 
either scholarships or 
conditional cash transfers 
except the Malawi study. 
In Malawi, it was found 
that, for the same cost, 
a conditional transfer 
could achieve a greater enrolment gain than an 
unconditional one. 

The measurement of cost effectiveness requires 
not only a measure of impact but also a complete 
accounting of costs. If greater grade attainment 
were the goal, a measure of cost effectiveness 
would require that we know how many additional 
person-years of schooling were uniquely attributable 
to a particular programme per dollar spent. This is 
not at all the same as the number of girls receiving 
scholarships or cash transfers, given that some may 
have attended or continued in school anyway. 

In many of the settings in Asia and Africa, where 
girls still suffer educational disadvantages, school 
systems are dysfunctional. High rates of teacher 
absenteeism, teacher shortages, lack of adequate 
training, poor infrastructure and lack of adequate 
supplies are reflected in poor learning outcomes. 169 

Such systems face even greater strain in 
communities where conditional cash transfers and/ 
or scholarships programmes have been successful in 
increasing enrolment and attendance, particularly in 
disadvantaged districts where schools are severely 
under- resourced. Even uneducated parents can 
sense when their children are not learning, and 

will be increasingly less 
responsive to incentives 
if they perceive that 
educational quality is 

Looking ahead 

These developments raise 
questions about how best 
to support girls' education 
in the future. Given 
resource constraints on 
the part of governments 
and donors, it makes 
sense to concentrate 
resources where they are 
most needed - and that 
is among the poorest 
and most marginalised 
communities. Conditional 
cash transfers and/ 
or scholarships will be 
insufficient to address 
girls' most critical needs, 
particularly for the 
poorest among them, 
without complementary 
inputs to strengthen 
school quality. This is 
because the poorest girls attend the poorest schools 
and come from families with the least capacity, 
in terms of time and education, to support and 
reinforce their learning. This might suggest a school- 
based approach, such as the one that Room to Read 
is currently pioneering, in which marginalised schools 
are identified for support with supplementary but 
limited resources also provided to the neediest girls. 
Sustainability will require time; indeed, the time 
for a next generation of girls to be educated and 
empowered to take up positions of influence and 
leadership in their communities. 


Learning? How 
girls experience 

• What is learning and what is a school? 

• Teachers and teacher training 

• Talking to Teachers, primary research 
in four countries 

• Curricula in schools 

• Learning outside school 

• Non-state schools and girls 

• The hidden gender agenda 

"Without education I would be nowhere... 
education gave me confidence and made me 
a more responsible person." 

Penelope, Samfya District, Zambia 1 

In Chapter 1 we introduced Nargis, a girl 
born in rural India last year and greeted as 
the world's seven billionth baby. By 2024, if 
she survives the potential hazards of her early 
childhood, she will be an adolescent on the 
brink of her adult life. Despite coming from 
a poor family, she will have had a reasonable 
chance of having attended a primary school. 
But will she be able to make the transition to 
secondary school, confident that she will learn 

\ what she needs to equip her for life? 

] Will international declarations and 

investments over the next 12 years prove 
powerful and focused enough to put quality 
and equity at the heart of education so that 
resources reach those - like Nargis - who 
need them most? 

For girls in particular, school can be a hostile 
place where they compete unsuccessfully 
with boys for resources and attention, where 
they face violence, and where the quality of 
the education is not going to provide them 
with the skills and knowledge they need to 
succeed in life. At adolescence many girls, 
and their parents, will give up. They are not 
learning anything, they can see no future and 
they are needed at home. The deprivations 
girls have already faced in their lives, and the 
discrimination they confront at every turn, 
make learning very hard. How then can we 
make sure that education provides what girls 
need? Getting them into school, and even 
keeping them there for a few years, is a start 
but no guarantee that they will learn - and this 
is the challenge that lies ahead. 

What boys and girls learn in school is 
a critical part of their education and will 
influence them for the rest of their lives, 
but up to now it has not been the focus of 
global targets and commitments. This might 
be about to change, as there is growing 
pressure from many quarters for the concept 
of 'learning' to become the central tenet in 
educational targets. 2 So it is that much more 
important to examine first what girls need in 
order to learn. 


1 What is learning? 

Learning is not just about numeracy, literacy 
or even life skills. What girls learn about 
themselves - as girls and as members of the 
communities and societies in which they live 

- is also critical. The values that the school 
passes on to students, both boys and girls, 
are as important as the official curriculum. 

Are girls taught that they are not as 
clever as boys? Are they told that girls 
don't do maths and science? Do they learn 
that women should be subservient to men 
because all the pictures in the textbooks 
depict them this way, or because it's always 
girls whom the teacher asks to clean the 
classrooms or fetch tea? Or are they learning 
how to make decisions and choices and to 
understand the world, so that when they 
leave school they will have the power to lead 
lives they value? 

These questions show some of the 
different ways in which education can either 
further girls' empowerment on their path to 
becoming women, or block certain routes 
with discrimination and prejudice. Education 
alone is not a cure for all of society's ills, but 
a good education can give girls the skills 
and competencies they need to choose 
their own career path; have healthy positive 
relationships with their partners, families and 
friends; and enable them to make positive 
decisions about their bodies and their health. 

As such, a quality education - what you 
learn and what it is like in school for you 

- is the key to unlocking opportunities in 

Why gender equality in school matters: 3 
• Gender equality is central to achieving 
rights of not only access but participation, 
recognition and valuing of all children; 

• Gender equality is integral to improving 
the quality of basic education; 

• Gender equality and quality education is 
based on democracy in the classroom and 
democratic learning; 

• Gender equality means acknowledging 
inequalities of race, class and gender - 
not trying to ignore them. 

Girls have the right to a safe environment, 
in which they can learn without fear or 
abuse. They have the right to equal access to 
adequate learning resources and to a teacher 
who has the skills and the attitude needed to 
teach them properly. They have a right to be 
treated fairly and to be engaged fully in their 
learning. 4 

This chapter will explore these rights 
within education. This includes what girls are 
taught, how it is taught, and by whom. It 
looks at the resources a girl needs to learn, 
and at her actual classroom experience. 

The recent Brookings Institute's report 
found that, despite the global advances 
in access to primary education, millions 
of children are still leaving school without 
the most basic skills. The emphasis on 
enrolment rates, including gender parity 
in enrolment, has meant that the issue 
of what children actually learn whilst 
at school has been overlooked. There is 
widespread agreement that there needs 
to be a shift in focus towards education 
quality to ensure that children leave 
school with the necessary skills and 
knowledge to live a healthy, happy and 
productive life. 

The report outlines three key 
interventions towards improving 
education outcomes: the importance 
of better early-childhood education, an 
increased emphasis on basic literacy 
and numeracy skills for young children, 
and ensuring the successful transition to 
post-primary education. The report also 
highlights that more targeted research is 
required to assess why girls consistently 
perform worse than boys in schools in 
many developing countries, and to foster 
innovative approaches to tackling such 

At school in 




The Committee on the Rights of the Child 
identified in its General Comment Number Three 
that children should be provided with adequate 
life skills' education, including on matters of 
sexuality: "State parties must ensure that children 
have the ability to acquire the knowledge and skills 
to protect themselves and others as they begin to 
express their sexuality." 5 

Information about reproductive healthcare is 
crucial to adolescent girls' development. As part of 
its 2007 National Plan for Adolescent Pregnancy 
Prevention, Ecuador has been implementing a 
series of education programmes designed to raise 
awareness of reproductive healthcare specifically 
amongst adolescents. The 
programmes take a rights- 
based approach, focusing on 
entitlement to a system of 
healthcare provision which does 
not discriminate due to age or 
gender. 6 In an unprecedented 
step for Latin American countries, 
Colombia enacted a new law in 
2010 providing free contraception 
and sexual health education in 
order to enable young women to 
make more informed decisions 
and pursue studies for longer. 7 

In the Occupied Palestinian 
Territories, UNFPA has focused 
on educating adolescents and the 
wider local communities about 
the reproductive health needs of 
adolescent girls, involving media 
outreach and the introduction of 
the subject in school curricula. 8 

Article 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the 
Child (CRC) provides that all children have the right 
to access information aimed at the promotion of 
their mental and physical health. 9 CRC also outlines 
the right to education which helps adolescents to 
develop their personality, talents and mental and 
physical abilities to the fullest in Article 29. 10 

The context and delivery of education is crucial. 
This has been recognised by the Yemen Ministry 
for Education which in 2008 hired over 1,000 new 
female teachers in order to attract girls to school, 
create a more gender-balanced learning environment 
and teach them in a gender-sensitive manner. 11 

The content of textbooks plays an important role 
in nurturing an atmosphere of equality in which both 

girls and boys can learn. In 2007 the Committee 
on the Rights of the Child raised concerns about 
gender bias and enforcing stereotypes in school 
textbooks in the Maldives. The Committee was 
'disappointed' that such stereotypical attitudes were 
being enforced by local and religious leaders, and 
that in some cases religious secondary schools were 
preventing girls from attending. 12 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms 
of Discrimination against Women provides that all 
states parties eliminate any stereotyped concept 
of the roles of men and women at all levels and all 
forms of education, including revising text books 
and school programmes (Article 10(c)). 13 

The quality of education 
can also be determined by its 
relevance. In Morocco, there 
are reports that attendance at 
secondary education dropped 
when the primary language 
of instruction was changed 
from French to Arabic. Reports 
suggest this was because French 
was seen as more valuable in 
the pursuit of jobs offering a 
substantial premium in earnings. 
The case has also been made 
in India, where growing job 
opportunities have seen lower- 
caste young women switching 
from Marathi to English language 
schools. 14 In 2005 the World 
Bank criticised national school 
curricula in Haiti, Chad, Rwanda, 
Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, 
Malawi, Kenya and Uganda 
which had not been changed or updated since 
colonial times. 15 

In 2011 the UN Special Rapporteur on the right 
to education raised concern about Senegal's quality 
of education. It has been compromised, he said, 
by a dearth of manuals and learning material, and 
above all, by the lack of well-trained, qualified 
teachers. 16 

Education should also contain information 
addressing the unique economic difficulties 
faced by adolescent girls, and preparing them for 
post-education. The Dakar Framework for Action 
therefore calls for the provision of information on 
exploitative labour, lack of employment issues and 
discriminatory job markets. 17 


2 What is a school? 

"A school is a group of people who fight 
for education, from the janitor to the 

Isanea, headteacher, Brazil 

Looking at rights within school, including 
formal primary and secondary schools and 
the other educational institutions where 
adolescent girls are learning, requires a 
definition of school as both a place and a 
concept. In part, school is a physical space, 
filled with the 'right' number of textbooks, 
teachers, toilets and so on. This physical 
space can be seen as a kind of factory, with 
inputs, such as time in class and enrolment 
rates; and outputs, such as examination 
results. The image of a factory leads us to 
think that schools should be efficient at 
the input-output process, particularly by 
ensuring that the economy functions well by 
producing students with the right skills for a 
life of work. 

But a school could more appropriately be 
seen in terms of the ways that the physical 

space in which children learn, and the 
resources in it, interact with and are used by 
pupils. Crucially for adolescent girls, looking 
at the school in terms of the relationships 
within it allows for reflection on the gender 
dynamics of classrooms and schools. 

This view also allows educators to think 
of the process of education as passing on 
knowledge and an understanding of gender 
identities, in ways that go beyond what the 
official curriculum teaches. This view makes 
it possible to look at the context within 
which the school operates and how this 
influences the school environment, and how 
the context of the children's own lives affects 
their ability to function within this space. 
This view, therefore, gives us the scope to 
look at the experience of education as it is 
lived by girls from many different family and 
community backgrounds. 

For example, within education, girls have 
a right to resources that are distributed 
equitably and used fairly. This is not just 
about having enough resources, but also 
about how the resources are used. So 
rather than just counting the numbers 



of desks and pupils, schools need to ask 
themselves: even if we supply a seat for 
every child, would girls still be made to 
sit in the back where they cannot hear or 
see? The relationship between a desk and 
a girl's ability to learn is more complicated 
than the factory model of schooling would 
suggest. Research has shown that a gender- 
equitable environment, with a combination 
of resources and positive interactions, 
affects girls significantly more than boys, 
in a variety of ways. 18 And the issues are 
more pronounced as girls enter the complex 
period of adolescence. 



• Changes to curriculum and to 
classroom organisation which allow 
for increased participation of girls and 
young women; 

• Encouragement of questioning the 
curriculum and what counts as school 

• Breaking down of hierarchies and 
power-networks that exclude girls 
and women, between teachers and 
students, and amongst students; 

• Greater understanding of the conditions 
which lead to bullying, racism and 
sexism, and homophobic behaviour, 
and more successful forms of 

• Greater valuing of students' experience 
and knowledge, and closer involvement 

of students in planning and evaluating 
their educational work; 

• Increased critical consciousness among 
students and ability to challenge 
narrow-minded conceptions, prejudices 
and stereotypes; 

• Stronger sense of agency whereby 
students (and their teachers and 
parents) envision an expanded and 
divergent future. 

3 Do the numbers really add up? 

At the most superficial - but most easily 
assessed - level, we can count the number 
of desks, textbooks and toilets. We can 
check the balance of male and female 
students, male and female teachers, 
and male and female senior officials in 
the education system. We can note the 
differences in male and female students' 
examination scores, in the subjects that 
they take and in the jobs and further studies 
that they go on to. This kind of tally - with 
two easily comparable columns - can be 
useful, but at most it gives us only an initial 
indication of what girls' experiences in 
education are and how they might need to 
be improved. 

The numbers may tell school officials 
that a classroom has only half the number 
of desks as pupils, but only a deeper 
analysis will tell them how this is affecting 
pupil achievement. The numbers tell 
policymakers that in particular countries, 
such as Botswana or Mauritius, girls are 
outperforming boys in English and maths, 
while in countries such as Malawi or 
Tanzania, boys are outperforming girls, but 
the numbers do not tell them why these 
differences in achievement exist. 20 

None of this is to say that resources do 
not matter; of course children learn better 
with books and other learning materials. 
We know that individual ownership of 
exercise books, notebooks, pencils and 
pens are all associated with improved 
pupil achievement. 21 Going beyond the 
availability of textbooks and other learning 
material, however, is the question of the 
teacher's ability to make sure that pupils 
have equal access to what is there and to 
be sensitive to the gender dynamics in the 

Urmila joins 
the class in 



By Elaine Unterhalter, Institute of Education, University of London 

toilets in 

UNICEF and the World Bank have both stressed 
that providing girls-only toilets or additional 
toilets at school can increase girls' attendance by 
cutting down the number of days missed due to 
menstruation. 22 These programmes are making an 
important link between the provision of Water, 
Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools, and the 
learning gains these can produce. 

Few academic studies, though, have looked at the 
impact of toilets on girls' enrolment, attendance and 
learning outcomes. Although a number of UNICEF- 
supported WASH initiatives in India, Nepal, Zambia, 
Malawi and Kenya have been evaluated, looking at 
intervention schools and control schools with regard 
to attendance and learning outcomes, problems with 
research design mean that the specific impact of 
separate girls' toilets cannot be isolated. 23 What this 
tells us is not that WASH initiatives are unimportant, 
but rather that we do not in fact know what its 
effects are. 

Furthermore, the amount of attention given 
to this single intervention, girls' toilets, suggests 
that if we can only get the plumbing right, we do 
not need to work on the much more difficult and 
complex attitudes relating to whether girls feel safe 
and confident enough to use the toilets, or how to 
address poverty in associated communities, where 

there are not sufficient and safe sanitation facilities. 

What the research around girls' toilets does 
highlight is a number of other concerns, such as 
incidences of harassment and sexual violence in 
school toilets and girls' perceptions of lack of security 
and privacy. 24 25 These findings shed light on a wider 
culture of gender inequalities in and around school. 
Research in Kenya highlights considerable hostility 
to poor girls who receive sanitary towels, suggesting 
problems with interventions that are provided in 
schools without appropriate training for school 
officials. In the absence of this training, a corrosive 
discourse of 'blaming the poor' both for their 
conditions and for what are seen as their misuse of 
resources emerges. 26 

The provision of toilets is important. Toilets are 
clearly vital in making the lives of children in schools 
more comfortable, and they do enable girls to go 
to school without some measure of shame, pain, or 
health risks. However, it is a myth that simply digging 
toilets will promote girls' schooling. 

Policymakers need to address the gender 
inequalities associated with sexual harassment and 
long-term ill health, why girls may feel too ashamed to 
use toilets at school, and the derogatory assumptions 
of teachers or education officials about poor girls - 
and not just call in the plumbers. 



4 Time is a resource, too 

Time spent in school learning is a critical 
resource. 'Opportunity to learn' (OTL) is a 
concept that examines the factors that give a 
girl the time to pursue her education. Without 
enough 'time on task', no child can learn. 27 

Male-dominated and sexist school 
environments can also place adolescent girls in 
positions that undermine their 'time on task'. 
For example, within many schools, girls are 
still asked to fetch water, sweep classrooms 
and perform other chores rarely asked of 
boys. 28 In the classroom, teachers often do not 
encourage girls to participate and can actively 
discriminate against and belittle girls. 29 In and 
around schools, men, boys and male teachers 
may harass and abuse girls. 30 The male- 
dominated school environment then erodes 
girls' confidence and ability to participate, and 
creates an atmosphere that is dismissive of girls 
as learners. 

Q. "Boys are better mathematicians! Do 
you agree? Why? Why not?" 
A. "To some extent I agree with this. And 
probably the reason for it is that Allah 
has made man superior to a woman. It is 
natural that from childhood they [boys] 
ask questions: 'why?', 'what?', 'how?'. 
And, comparatively, girls, from the 
beginning you explain to them and 
they accept it. They have curiosity 
but, from the start, that element 
of curiosity is bounded so that it 
stops. This is the reason that 
our experience tells us that 
boys learn better." 

Teacher, Pakistan 31 

More complex 
but also fundamental: 

• Family involvement 
in learning and school 

• Mother's education 

level & literacy 
High expectations & aspirations 

In response to these issues, the question of 
whether girls learn better on their own has 
been repeatedly raised. UNESCO dedicated 
an advocacy brief to the topic, looking at 
both the arguments in favour and against 
promoting single-sex education. In their 
reflections they note that: "Separate facilities 
for girls are only safer than co-educational 
schools if the local community and education 
system invest consistently in ensuring 
security. In southern Africa, girls' schools 
and girls' dormitories have been the target 
of male predators. Some have been referred 
to as 'Candy Shops'." 32 A 2004 global report 
by the Canadian Centre for Knowledge 
Mobilization which sought to uncover 
whether girls do better in single-sex schools 
and what, if any, effect single-sex schooling 
has on 'achievement', found that: "There are 
psychological and social benefits for girls 
in single-sex classes; when given the 
choice, girls generally prefer single-sex 
classes whereas boys typically prefer 
co-educational classes; single- 
sex classes assist in breaking 
down sex- role stereotypes 
and 'genderisation' of 
subject areas, whereas 
co-educational settings 
reinforce them." 33 


homework at 
a boarding 
house in 


• Teachers attend and engage with the girls 

• Female teachers and other female students are present 

• Materials are equally available to all students 

• Equal time-on-task in classroom and form homework 

• Equal student attendance 
• Safety and security in and on the way to school 

• Non-discriminatory policies in school and classroom 

Interventions that might improve a girl's opportunity to learn 


Plan's BRIGHT project - Burkinabe 
Response to Improve Girls' Chances to 
Succeed - in Burkina Faso has achieved 
high levels of school enrolment and 
graduation rates for girls by creating 
supportive learning environments in 132 
communities across 10 provinces. 36 

Working closely with communities and 
local government, the BRIGHT project 
ensures schools have child-friendly 
classrooms equipped with appropriate 
furniture and textbooks, a borehole to 
provide safe water, separate male and 
female latrine blocks for sanitation, and 
housing units for teachers. 

The children also receive a midday meal 
and there is a take-home ration for girls 
who achieve an attendance rate of 90 per 
cent or more. 

Some of the schools also have an 
on-site child-care centre that allows 
mothers to leave their youngest children 
under safe supervision and let their older 
daughters go to school while they work in 
the fields. 

In addition, Plan has recently developed 
a 'School Equality Scorecard' which 
allows schools to check quickly and easily 
whether they are meeting the criteria 
required to promote gender equality and 
girls' rights in the classroom. 

5 Teachers count 

"She used to teach us well and from that 
time we were inspired by her. We were 
carried away by her. Generally, we go by 
her, we listen to her and we are indebted to 
her. She would always say, 'Look, children, 
you study well, work hard and aim for 
bigger things in life but don't become one 
like me.' But I wanted to be like her, like 
madam. " 

Preethi, 15, Andhra Pradesh 3; 

While few developing countries have 
achieved the ideal 1 :40 ratio of teachers to 
pupils in secondary schools, 38 for girls it has 
been found that the presence of a female 
teacher is more important than that of a 
male teacher. 39 

Hiring and deploying enough female 
teachers, especially to rural areas, therefore 
remains a challenge that education systems 
in most regions need to tackle. Although 
the subject of female teachers is more 
complicated than sheer numbers, it is 
nevertheless an important indicator of 
school quality. The teacher-pupil ratios, as 
well as the regular attendance of teachers, 
are both factors that affect student 
learning. 40 

Although more girls than boys choose to 
study education at college or university, this 

has not yet translated into a higher number 
of female teachers in the areas where they 
are most needed. 41 

Teacher absence is a major reason 
children in schools do not learn. In a study 
of primary-school teacher absenteeism in six 
developing countries - Bangladesh, Ecuador, 
India, Indonesia, Peru and Uganda -an 
average of 19 per cent of teachers were 
absent on any given day. Despite this, in a 
sample of 3,000 government-run schools 
in India, only one teacher was reported 
to have been fired because of repeated 
absence. 42 

In government primary schools in 
Pakistan, only female teachers teach in 
girls' schools and only male teachers 
teach in boys' schools. 43 Therefore, the 
fact that female teachers are absent 
almost twice as often as male teachers 
could have a significant impact on girls' 
learning. Pakistan also has one of the 
largest and most persistent gender gaps in 
enrolment and attainment at every level 
of education. 44 Teacher absence clearly 
contributes significantly to this issue. 
"At school, I have problems with how our 
teachers' salaries are not paid on time. 
Whenever their salaries are delayed, they 
stay away from classes; sometimes for 
months or weeks, until they are paid. As a 
result of this, I have to remain at home until 
the teachers are paid and ready to come 
back to teach us." 

Josephine, 22, Liberia 45 

It is too easy though to look at these Teaching 

numbers and blame the teachers who do English in 

not attend school. The statistics tell us South Sudan. 

nothing about why teachers are absent or 

about how we can improve attendance. 

Unsurprisingly, teacher and student absence 

rates are much higher in rural areas or 

areas with larger numbers of students 

from lower socio-economic backgrounds. 46 

School directors interviewed in five 

countries in West Africa (Chad, Guinea, 

Mali, Mauritania and Niger), for example, 

reported that the four most popular 

reasons given for teachers' absence were: 

health; family-related issues (such as births 

or deaths in the family, as well as family 

illness); strikes; and time to receive salaries, 

as in some regions teachers have to travel a 

long way to collect their salaries. 47 

Research by Cynthia Lloyd found that 
for female teachers, the further away from 
the school they lived, the more likely they 
were to be absent. 48 These findings indicate 
that the importance of a female teacher 
for girls to learn, as has been shown, is 
complicated by the fact that these female 
teachers themselves are caught up in their 
own gendered roles and by the challenges of 
being working women and mothers. 49 

A key way to address some of the 
problems is teacher training, which not only 
focuses on subject knowledge and teaching 
methodologies but also builds teachers' self- 
esteem and status. The research in the five 
West African countries cited above highlights 
an association between teacher training 
and self-estimated curriculum completion, Teacher 
pointing both to increased subject knowledge training in 
and increased teacher confidence. 50 Togo. 




Plan's 'Real Choices, Real Lives' cohort study is 
tracking 142 girls across nine countries since their 
birth. They are already attending primary school and 
their experiences of school are beginning to shape 
their lives. To try to anticipate what their future 
education will look like, Plan undertook observational 
research over a period of one week across four 
countries: Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Brazil 
and Cambodia. As part of the research, we collected 
administrative data on attendance, repetition and 
levels of teacher qualifications. The researchers 
also observed two lessons in each school. We then 
conducted in-depth interviews with the classroom 
teacher (of the observed lessons) as well as the 
headteacher of the school. These schools all service 
very poor communities, many of them in remote 
areas, and the daily grind of teachers in these 
primary and secondary schools exposes the extent 
to which they often struggle with the same issues as 
their poor students. 

It was clear from the interviews that the 
communities in which they worked were very 
important to the teachers, as was the need to involve 
parents in children's education. 

"The school is an educational institution and 
it needs to provide a pleasant space for an 
appropriate education, as well as providing a 
partnership with the community and the families, 
involving interactive projects and activities." 

Maria, headteacher, Brazil 

None of the teachers interviewed felt that they were 
paid enough, except for Miguelina in the Dominican 
Republic who was working both during the day and 
in the evening, in public and private schools. 

"Education is better now - people have more 
opportunities to develop in school, to get a degree, 
to attend continuous formation training; however, 
there is still a lot to be changed. The teachers aren't 
valued, and to have a dignified salary; teachers 
need to work in several schools, teaching many 
groups, and this causes physical and mental stress. 
After a long time in the profession, many teachers 
(including some of my workmates) are giving up 
the career as a teacher, because of the poor working 
conditions and low salaries." 

Ronald, teacher, Brazil 

For many of the teachers, pay was not just about 
being able to support themselves, but was intricately 
bound up with the extent to which the profession 
was valued. 

"Teachers must be more valued. I see that the 
education professionals are the least valued and 
least acknowledged professional class. I think we 
should receive a dignified salary." 

Kelma, teacher, Brazil 

Another key concern for many was the issue of 

"We teachers are the cornerstone. We have to be 
well trained. More so when you're dealing with big 
kids, in high school, who can recognise weakness. 
But if you know what you're doing and you take 
control, they say: 'No, this one knows.'" 

Miguelina, teacher, Dominican Republic 

Students identified unqualified or untrained teachers 
as those more likely to use corporal punishment and 
less likely to be able to support them through their 
examinations. Teachers explained that training is 
essential for giving them confidence, familiarising 
them with the curriculum, and a key way to improve 
their classroom practice. When we looked at the 
levels to which teachers were trained, as well as 
the numbers of men and women in high-status 
jobs, gendered pictures emerged. In Uganda, there 
were 30 female teachers and 20 male teachers at 
the school, but all of the senior teachers and the 
headteachers were male. While all of the male 
teachers were trained, just three of the 30 female 
teachers had training or any education to a level 
beyond secondary school. Only two female teachers 



had a diploma, and only one female teacher had 
a degree, compared to 16 male teachers with 
diplomas, and four with degrees. 

"Training sessions are always necessary so the 
teachers can get more information and do a better 
job. I believe that because IT is very popular now, 
we need more training time on this theme. " 

Ronald, teacher, Brazil 

Teacher absence was evident in most of the schools 
which we observed, which had clear implications for 
the students' learning. In one school in Brazil, our 
researchers noted that: "On that day, the teacher 
was responsible for two groups as another teacher 
was absent. The lesson was affected because 
the teacher in charge had to leave the classroom 
a few times to monitor the other group, which 
was carrying on activities he had set in the other 
teacher's absence." 

In one of the observed lessons in Uganda, a 
teacher was only present for 40 of the 80 minutes. 
This was because he was sent to the capital to 
deliver some forms. 

Many of the teachers had worked extremely hard to 
get to where they are today. For the female teachers 
we interviewed, getting on in teaching had been a 
complex balancing act between finance, family and 
career. Many had interrupted their own education to 
have children or marry, and were still in the process of 
studying, or they expressed the hope that they would 
go back to further education in the future. 

"/ spent three years doing teacher-training and 
travelled every day. I had to stop attending training for 
a while, because I had a miscarriage. I had a problem 
during the thesis because I was pregnant with my 
daughter and my son's arm had been operated on. 
Those were the little conflicts. But, thank God, I 
overcame them and never stopped, never gave up." 

Miguelina, teacher, Dominican Republic 

For our cohort girls, the biggest source of hope is the 
passionate commitment expressed by every teacher 
and headteacher we interviewed to their job and to 

"In my time, I was seen as 'revolutionary' because 
I used to fight for my rights. If I arrived in the 
classroom and found some problem, I would 
demand action from the directors and teachers. 
I've always had the vocation [to be a teacher], 
ever since I was a child. It's a profession that helps 
people to become someone in life. It helps society 
as a whole." 

Maria, headteacher, Brazil 

"The school is offering me a postgraduate degree 
in school management, but I want to be in the 
classroom, because that's where I do my best 
work. The best thing about being a teacher is the 
relationship with my students. When they come up 
to thank you - these are the things that fill you with 

Miguelina, teacher, Dominican Republic 



By Elaine Unterhalter, Institute of Education, University of London 

In 1991, some of the earliest comparative research 
on girls out of school suggested the employment 
of women teachers was associated with increasing 
rates of girls' enrolment. 51 A decade later, received 
orthodoxy was that employing more women 
teachers in countries with large gender gaps would 
encourage parents to send girls to school. 52 

Despite this, worldwide, the number of female 
teachers decreases at secondary level and the status 
of teaching at this level increases. The less teaching 
is seen as childcare and the more it is seen as a 
profession, with academic rigour, the fewer women 
are employed in it. 53 

Recently, a number of studies have suggested 
that the employment of para-teachers or classroom 
assistants can bring a minimum level of schooling to 
more poor children at low cost. 54 

As women comprise a large proportion of para- 
teachers, and given that a large number of girls 
from the poorest families attend school under these 

conditions, one can assume that employing women 
para-teachers does make schooling more accessible 
to the poorest girls. 

Indeed, this was the model developed by 
the BRAC schools in Bangladesh, which set up 
schools close to where children lived, employed 
women teachers, and through a rigorous learning 
programme ensured children could re-enter the 
formal system at an equivalent level to their peers. 55 

Before this research on female teachers and para- 
teachers can be translated into education policy 
though, the trade-offs it implies need to be closely 

For example, it would be risky to conclude that 
the policy implication of the work of BRAC or 
similar studies of para-teachers in Northern Indian 
states is that low pay for women employees is a 
way to make schooling available to large numbers 
of girls. 56 

Positive learning outcomes in all these studies 
are also associated with good work conditions for 
the women employed, opportunities for training, 
job security and promotion. Indeed, other studies 
demonstrate that better-trained teachers, regardless 
of gender, can create an atmosphere in which 
girls are willing to voice their concerns about the 
obstacles they face in their schooling. 57 As such, the 
implication of these studies is not that employing 
more women at low cost is the best way to achieve 
affordable education for all targets. 

Therefore, it is a convenient myth that on its own 
the employment of more women - often just as 
para-teachers - will result in more girls attending and 
learning. While there do appear to be associations 
between expanding education for girls and 
widening employment opportunities for women in 
teaching and other social sectors, this must include 
improving teachers' status, training and employment 
conditions. In this way their employment can 
contribute to a greater understanding of gender 
equality and concern with women's rights and 
gender equality. 

Thus education policy will need to find a way to 
address all these related areas, by joining up with 
labour policy and practice, for example. The solution 
is not to force down the opportunities and pay of 
women, in order to roll out minimal schooling for 
poor children at low cost. The trade-off cannot be 
between more access for girls and better jobs and 
working conditions for women. 



Pre-school has been touted as a way 
to prepare girls and boys to learn 
throughout their education. Its benefits 
extend to every part of a child's 
education - including her ability to 
learn and her parents' engagement 
in her education. A Save the Children 
Study in Nepal found that the children 
who enrolled in its early childhood 
development (ECD) centres did better 
than their peers in enrolment, retention 
and, most importantly, in their learning 
and transition from grade to grade. 58 

The study found that in Dalit 
communities (traditionally the most 
discriminated against in the caste 
system) the impact of early childhood 
development centres was most 
significant. Dalit children who attended 
were twice as likely as other children 
to move on from Grade 1 to Grade 2, 
and five times less likely to drop out. 
This is supported by findings from other 
countries that have shown that the most 
disadvantaged children are the most 
likely to see dramatic benefits from ECD 

Grade 1 Pass Rates 



Boys passing 



Girls passing 



Grade 2 Pass Rates 

Boys passing 



Girls passing 



6 Curricula in schools 

"[I think that] educated men and these men 
who are not educated are different. Because 
if you told the one who is educated things 
he will think and say that 'this is wrong or 
this is right. But for the man who is not 
educated, it is so difficult to change." 

Maasai girl, 16, Tanzania 

There are a number of important features of 
a curriculum that empowers girls. It needs to 
be gender aware; it needs to be relevant to 
the lives and needs of girls; and it needs to 
build children's ability to analyse the world 
around them. 

Too often, textbooks portray women in 
passive or caring roles and men in active 
roles and paid work outside the home. 59 
But textbooks can be used to raise girls' 
aspirations, to engage with their self-esteem 
and sense of themselves, and to begin to 
expand their horizons through their own 

Sometimes gender equality practices at 
school are out of step with ideas children 
learn at home and the responsibilities they 
have within a household - many of which 
are marked by strong gender divisions. 
Communities which feel their culture is 
under attack in schools would refuse to 
support the education of girls because 
it appears to undermine valued cultural 
practices. As issues concerning gender and 
sexuality involve families' hopes and fears 
for daughters and sons, it is important not to 
ignore their opposition and to find ways to 
make sure parents' views are heard. Parents' 
involvement in schools and consulting the 
community at large is critical to find ways 
to address gender, race, class and other 


in Nepal. 

lesson in 



students of all 
ages in India. 

sensitive issues in broad and integrated 
pedagogies. 60 Where traditional leaders and 
elders have been consulted, there has been 
considerable success in changing attitudes 
about formal schooling for girls, especially 
by forging links with the older women who 
initiate young girls at puberty. 

As well as being gender sensitive, a 
curriculum needs to be relevant. 61 An 
important definition of a relevant and 
valuable curriculum is one that provides 
practical, market-relevant, technical and 
vocational skills. Educators, policymakers 
and governments are taking note with great 
concern of the skills gap within and between 
countries. 62 To overcome disadvantage, 
education systems must understand what 
skills are valued and deliver them as part of 
a quality education that adequately prepares 
adolescent girls for a productive and 
economically active adulthood. In Chapter 
4, we will look at the impact of education 
on girls' choices after school. It is equally 
important to think about the differences 
between and amongst girls when designing 
relevant curricula so that all girls can acquire 
valuable skills and capabilities. 63 

If parents do not think that education is 
relevant to their children's opportunities 
and life choices, they are more likely to 
pull out girls than boys. 64 Parents are the 
main gatekeepers, keeping girls in or out of 
school. 65 The more relevant and valuable 

they perceive their daughter's education to 
be, the more likely they are to help her stay 
in school and support her to learn. 

The nine countries taking part in Plan's 
'Building Skills for Life' research reported 
that beside the lack of resources and 
poverty of the household, a key barrier 
for girls in completing lower secondary 
education is a lack of interest and support 
from parents and community members. 
Increasingly, local organisations like 
school management committees are 
encouraging parents to take an interest 
in the education of their children. In 
Mali, they are involved in girls' education 
issues such as raising funds, advising girls 
to attend school and advocating against 
early marriage and sexual violence. 

In Sierra Leone, a group called 'Teko 
Concerned Group for Development' 
exerts pressure on parents and school 
authorities on matters that have to do 
with schooling. This group was founded 
by a 17 year-old girl. Researchers found 
that she plays a pivotal role in the 
lives of some of her peers. She advises 
them about the dangers of early and 
unprotected sex and believes that teenage 
pregnancy should be tackled if most girls 
are to complete secondary school. 




By Charley Nussey, Institute of Education, University of London 

Gender stereotypes within curricula texts are often 
mentioned as one of the key ways in which gender 
inequality can become internalised by students. 
But texts can also offer students the opportunity to 
imagine alternatives and can help to raise aspirations 
and determination for change. 

"Literature tells society what is right or wrong; 
in this way the society knows what it's [the] 
responsibility to do." 

Girl, 14, Tanzanian secondary school 

While the Tanzanian education system is based 
historically on the old British 'O' and TV levels, the 
texts now on the curriculum are written by 
African authors, studied in English and Kiswahili 
literature lessons. Ranging from fiction which 
explores highly political themes, such as the 
government destroying livelihoods in slums 
in Kenya; tensions between traditional 
customs and modern education; and 
the difficulties faced by families in 
poverty; to a simple story about the 
difficulties which a female bus driver 
"in a man's world" faces but ultimately 
overcomes, the novels and plays on the 
curriculum engage with issues which are 
highly relevant to the lives of the students 
who study them. 67 - 68 - 69 - 70 

"Literature has a role of promoting good social 
relationship in the society, [for] example, literature 
taught us about class, tribalism. We consider 
literature as the serious subject within our life." 

Boy, 19, Tanzanian secondary school 

In research conducted in a rural Maasai secondary 
school in Monduli district, it was two texts in 
particular which sparked discussions about the roles 
and status of men and women in society. 71 These 
texts both had female adolescent protagonists, and 
echoed or directly mirrored situations which the 
students had experienced in their own lives. The 
texts offered a distanced way to examine highly 
personal issues. 

"Actually, this book helped us because it creates 
the picture... it shows the things which happen... 
which we had in our society. " 

Boy, 16, Tanzanian secondary school 

'Passed Like a Shadow', written by Bernard 
Mapalala in 2006, explores the story of a family 
impacted by HIV/AIDS. First affected is the 
father, who transmits the virus to his wife; the 
youngest son then becomes HIV-positive through 
unprotected sex with a sex worker. The daughter in 
the family, Abooki, also fears that she has become 
infected with HIV after she is raped. It is only 
Abooki, however, who goes to a clinic. She tests 
negative, and survives. She learns from women 
around her that relationships should be based 
on trust and mutual respect, and the book ends 
with her hopes for the future. The 
health messages around the many 
different ways in which HIV/AIDS 
can be transmitted reinforced lessons 
which the students had already had 
n biology or civics, but also opened 
further space to discuss gendered 
power relations. Ultimately, it was the 
message around positive relationships 
which the female students focused upon. 

"Abooki's relationship with her boyfriend is 
very good. It teaches us to love [for] real love, and 
not for aims of getting something from him or her. " 

Girl, 17, Tanzanian secondary school 

'Unanswered Cries', written by Osman Conteh 
in 2002, won the MacMillan Prize for African 
Literature. It explores the power of a 14 year-old 
girl, Olabisi, to make decisions about her own life. 
When Olabisi returns to her mother's village from 
her father's home in the city, her mother tries to 
convince and then force her to be circumcised. 
Olabisi runs back to the city, and takes the issue to 
court, arguing for her own freedom of choice. As a 
16 year-old female student wrote in an essay about 
the text, in order to "build a future... educated and 
informed children should have rights to choose". This 
emphasis on the right to choose was a personal one 
for her, since she had herself run away from an early 
and forced marriage. 

Texts which offer opportunities for discussion 
of issues critically relevant to adolescent girls' and 
boys' lives allow them to explore their own situations 
safely. A key way to ensure that the value of such 
texts is maximised is to ensure that teachers are 
trained in pedagogical methodologies which take full 
advantage of these discussions. 72 


7 Learning outside school 

In some cases, school is not the right place 
for a girl to learn. For a number of reasons, 
often linked to having had time out of school 
or being over-age, girls will find that there 
is no formal education available that suits 

In 1999, Dr Sugata Mitra developed a 
theory that groups of children with little 
or no computer literacy, given access to 
shared, accessible computers in public 
areas, will teach themselves to use 
the technology on their own. The first 
experiment placed a computer within a 
hole in the wall in a New Delhi slum in 

Working in self-organised groups 
and helping each other, the children 
typically navigated within minutes 
and began to browse in about an hour. 
Within three months they achieved 

basic computer literacy, and by nine 
months they achieved the proficiency 
level equivalent to the skills of most 
modern office workers. They also picked 
up a considerable amount of the English 
language from common multimedia 

An evaluation of this experiment 
found that girls tended to use these 
computers only if they were placed in 
safe public areas where they could be 
with other girls, but not find themselves 
alone with boys. It was also found that 
while the girls learned as quickly as the 
boys, their activity patterns tended to 
be different. Girls aged over 15 seldom 
came to the computers, possibly because 
of parental control. However, in those 
areas where older girls were able to use 
the computer, girls tended to use email 
and chat forums more. Girls also tended 
to use the computer to complete their 
school work. 

In Kalikuppam, a Tamil-speaking 

Learning at 
the 'Hole in 
the Wall'. 



village in south India, researchers placed 
a freely accessible computer which only 
had information on molecular biology in 
English. 74 

After 75 days the children were able 
to identify words such as 'neurons' 
and 'bacteria'; and children were able 
to classify the good and bad effects of 
bacteria, had started using English terms 
in their day-to-day language and were 
attempting to read English. 

A 14 year-old girl called 'Amita' was 
arguably the most important factor in 
the children's learning, as she took on 
the role of 'teacher' in the unsupervised 
experiment. At the start of the process, the 
boys had suggested that she would not be 
able to understand the subject and that 
they would 'work it out' for her. She then 
spent a lot of time and effort countering 
this attitude towards her and, over time, 
transformed herself into a teacher of the 

The researchers reported that when 
they asked a 12 year-old girl if she had 
understood anything from the experiment, 
she replied: "No, nothing. Apart from 
the fact that improper replication of the 

molecules causes genetic disease, we've Taking the 
understood nothing else. " 75 family to 

Without any help from adults and work in 

teachers, the children were able raise Benin. 
their test scores - in terms of knowledge 
of the subject of molecular biology 
and English language - from seven per 
cent to about 30 per cent in 75 days. A 
further period of 75 days with a mediator 
increased their scores to about 51 per 
cent. These scores were comparable with 
those of children of the same age, taught 
by a trained and experienced teacher, in 
a privileged private school in the nation's 
capital, despite the Kalikuppam children 
not having any access to a subject 
teacher. 76 

Alternative forums of learning, such as 

clubs, community schools and vocational 

training programmes, can also offer a vital 

second chance. Like the formal system, these Vocational 

platforms can empower or limit girls through training in 

what they teach. Bangladesh. 


Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa, and 
one of the biggest in the world, housing 
over 60 per cent of Nairobi's population 
in small mud shacks with corrugated tin 
roofs. The conditions are basic: fewer 
than 20 per cent of the houses have 
electricity, there are only two public taps 
for water, and there are no toilet facilities. 
Kibera also has one of the highest 
teenage pregnancy rates in the world, at 
50 per cent of all 16-24 year-old girls. 

Binti Pamoja (Daughters United) was 
established to provide adolescent girls 
with a safe space, where they can meet 
with girls of the same age and learn 
life, leadership and financial skills. The 
girls also receive age-appropriate sex 
education, access to contraceptives for 
girls over 14 years old, should they need 
them, and access to a clinic and nurses. 
When issues of violence surface, a 
dedicated social worker is sent to conduct 
a home visit and to follow up with 
authorities as needed. A parent forum and 

community-based theatre show reaches 
out to the rest of Kibera, recruiting more 
girls into the project. 

To date, Binti has opened more than 
38 safe spaces run by 68 girl graduates. 
Linnet is 24 years old; she joined Binti 
when it first opened its doors back in 
2003. Since then she has graduated and 
is running her own safe spaces group. She 
says: "There are a lot of idle men near 
bars, lots of drugs and alcohol in some 
areas. Men harass us in the street. But we 
just walk away." 

Binti is providing girls with two 
important services - scholarships and 
life skills - which could decrease early 
pregnancy and school drop-out. "Binti 
has empowered me," says Siama, who 
is 22 and has been with Binti for over a 
decade. "The most difficult age is 14; that 
is when girls are more likely to drop out 
of school and become pregnant. But if 
they stay in school, they are less likely to 
end up pregnant and more likely to find a 
good job." 



8 Private vs state schools 

Private - not state run, and often fee paying 

- schools provide an alternative education 
in many communities. This is a contentious 
issue as the right to universal and free access 
to education - defined as a public good that 
it is the duty of the government to provide 

- has been at the root of the debate about 
education for many years. 

In 23 of the 48 countries where Plan 
works, 35 per cent of all lower secondary 
school enrolment is in private schools, with 
girls making up 51 per cent of students*. 77 

In contrast, girls in these countries only 
make up 45 per cent of students in lower- 
secondary education in public, state-run 
schools. 78 This may be because private 
schools are more responsive to parents' 
concern with the safety of girls, or because 
they may be closer to where they live. At the 
same time, it's important to reiterate that 
education is a basic right that government 
has a duty to provide to all children, and 
private provision is an alternative few people 
can afford. The risk with turning to private 
education is that those already marginalised 
will be further disadvantaged. 


There were 69 million more children in 
primary school in 2007 than in 1991. 
Of these, some 23 million - a third of 
the increase - were actually in non-state 
schools. 79 For example, in India alone 
more than 23 million children attend non- 
state primary schools, and in Bangladesh 
96 per cent of the secondary-school 
enrolment is in non-state schools. 80 

The low quality of government 
schools is cited as the main reason for 
the growth in the numbers of private 
schools. 81 A UNICEF survey across 
eight states in India mentions teaching 
quality in public schools, as well as 
better provision of toilets for teachers 
and for girls in private schools. 82 In some 
countries, private schools are a better 
quality education option for poor girls. 
Many Aga Khan Education Services 
schools, for example, specifically target 

* Out of over 68 countries 

girls in remote areas where government 
schools do not reach. 83 

In a survey of private schools in India, 
Nigeria and Kenya, researchers James 
Tooley and Pauline Dixon found that 
there was parity between the sexes in 
enrolment. 84 They found that these schools 
had better pupil-teacher ratios, high 
teacher commitment and better facilities 
than government schools. For girls, this 
included better-trained teachers and, 
usually, separate toilets. The Aga Khan 
Foundation concludes that public-private 
partnerships offer choice and access for 
excluded children, especially girls. 85 

However, the picture is mixed. 
Research by the Population Council in 
Pakistan showed that private schools 
do not always reach poor girls, even in 
urban areas. In three different districts, 
researchers found that private schools 
flourished in the relatively more 
prosperous communities but were not 
available to or accessed by the poorest 
girls and their families. 86 

9 The hidden gender agenda 

"/ think boys are confident enough and they 
can ask questions in the class. This gives 
teachers the idea that they are understanding 
the topic and boys are intelligent. We girls 
also want to ask questions, but we are shy 
and cannot ask questions. Thus, we become 
only listeners in the class. " 

Girl, Pakistan 87 

There are a number of ways in which schools 
replicate and nurture gender stereotypes 
and norms. These include the attitudes, 
expectations and aspirations of parents, 
students and teachers, the images and 
messages within the school, the images 
and messages within the curriculum, and 
teaching methods and processes within the 
classroom. 88 Teachers' views on gender play a 
key role in shaping each of these areas. 
Gender issues in the classroom and how they 
affect learning have been examined for this 
report in schools in Brazil, the Dominican 
Republic, Uganda and Cambodia (see page 
92). This research shows that, as members of 
the communities and societies in which they 
work, teachers can be a vector in replicating 
and reinforcing gender stereotypes. 
Conversely, if they have space to reflect, 
together with appropriate training, and 
become aware of these same biases, they can 
help girls and boys to begin to question their 

roles in society and analyse the impact these 
stereotypes have on their lives. 

Initial work on effective ways of teaching 
girls focused on 'changing girls' by 
persuading them to engage with typically 
'male' subjects such as science and maths. 
Attention then shifted to 'changing subjects' 
by questioning the traditional curriculum and 
views of knowledge. However, there is now 
an emerging focus on adapting how subjects 
are taught to suit a wide range of learners, 
and to encourage various ways of learning 
and teaching. 89 

In a study on 'Gender Responsive Schools' 
differences were observed in four study 
schools in terms of how male and female 
students occupied space. 90 

Observations of classroom teaching and 
learning, games, lessons and recess hours 
revealed a gender pattern in this regard. 91 
For instance, girls were found huddled 
together both inside and outside the 
classroom, while boys occupied space more 
comfortably by spreading around. This was 
also explicit in teachers' descriptions of how 
boys and girls occupy space available in the 
science laboratory. According to a science 
teacher quoted in the study, generally girls 
would hover around one table while doing 
experiments. Boys, on the other hand, would 
spread out and occupy all the tables. The 
science teacher interpreted it as girls' attempts 
at seeking security and help from their peers. 



The study looked at seven countries and 
found that in each country, the teachers 
were actively reproducing dominant gender 
stereotypes in their teaching, discipline and 
general classroom practices. 92 In an in-depth 
analysis of the views of teachers and students 
in Pakistan, the research found that female and 
male teachers accepted and reinforced gender 
stereotypes. Indeed, most were unaware of the 
concept of gender, or its impact on learning 
and the school environment. 93 

Teachers consciously or sub-consciously 
transmit stereotypes to their students which 
may have an adverse affect on their learning 
outcomes. If a teacher assumes girls will have 
less natural aptitude for mathematics, since it 
is considered a 'male' subject, girls might not 
perform as well in examinations. PISA tests* 
have shown that where there are differences 
in achievement, the general global trend is 
that boys perform better in maths, while girls 
perform better in reading. 94 

But context matters - in South Africa 
and Lesotho girls outperform boys on 
standardised tests in both mathematics 
and reading, and the opposite is true in 
East African countries such as Uganda 
and Kenya. Social conditions undermine 
the performance of both boys and girls 
in different contexts in different ways. 95 
Research in Malawi highlights that when 
girls were taught independently of boys, and 

teachers were trained to address these issues, 
girls' achievement in maths improved. 96 

Once we start to understand how gender 
socialisation affects subject choice, we realise 
that, often, choices do not reflect what girls 
want to do, but rather how an understanding 
of what is appropriate limits aspirations. 
Amartya Sen has called this 'adaptive 
preference', how our desires narrow when 
opportunities are constrained. 97 It is this kind 
of socialisation, and not natural aptitude or 
even choice, that is reflected in what girls 
and boys study at higher education. 

Peers are as important as teachers in 
transmitting these assumptions. The spatial 
dynamics of the classroom have been discussed 
above, but the verbal dynamics - what gets 
said, what doesn't, and who speaks - are 
equally important. Research in Botswana and 
Ghana found that boys dominated both the 
physical classroom space, and the verbal space. 98 
Boys would shout answers, jeer or shout "shhh" 
when girls attempted to participate actively, 
and ridicule girls if they answered wrongly. 
Teachers generally did not make an effort to 
control the use of public spaces or moderate 
the verbal dynamics in the classroom. These 
kinds of constraints reinforce dominant ideas 
of appropriate behaviours of boys and girls, to 
the detriment of both adolescent boys and girls, 
and constrain the educational opportunities and 
future aspirations of all the students. 

Gender segregation in the field of study: In most countries, women dominate 
health and education studies and men dominate engineering and sciences 

Fraction of countries where 
the field of study is 

Number of 

Field of study 

















Engineering, manufacturing and construction 



Health and welfare 





Arts and humanities 















Social sciences; business and law 





* The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international study, which 
began in 2000. It aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15 years olds in over 70 participating countries. 


"Sometimes when I go home wearing 
overalls, everyone starts laughing at 
me. They shout, 'Women should not be 
wearing overalls! It's not for a woman! 
It's a man's work!' They think that I am 
a big embarrassment. But I stay strong 
because I know I am doing the right thing. 
I am very happy and very proud: what a 
man can do, a woman can also do. 

I am one of the first female mechanics to 
train atJuba Technical High School. Look 
around South Sudan and you see male 
mechanics everywhere: no women. But I 
say it's good for me to take on the role. 

I am studying everything about cars. 
I have learned so many things - how 
to take apart the engine; the gears; the 
radiator. If a car fails, I know how to fix it. 

I learned during the war that if you 
don't have a job, you will suffer more. In 
South Sudan, if you don't have contacts, 
you will search up and down and you 
will not find a job. But if you know how 
to build, or be a carpenter, or be an auto 
mechanic, it's much easier: you'll get a 
job. That's why I decided to come to this 
training school. 

Here, women do not usually have good 
jobs. Sometimes you'll find a woman 
working, but she will not have studied. 
Or you'll find a woman with education, 
but she cannot find a job. She'll be poor, 
even though she has a lot of knowledge. 
When you are married in this country, 
the husband will not allow you to work. 
Even if you read, even if you have finished 
all your school, he will not allow you to 
work. In the future, I want to be a very 
successful auto mechanic. I think I am a 

good role model. Sometimes people in 
high positions encourage me and advise 
me and tell me I'm a good example. I 
make them happy as they just cannot 
believe that a lady can do such things!" 
Gloria Joy, 18, Trainee Auto Mechanic, 
Plan International's Juba Technical 
High School, South Sudan 


What Gloria had to overcome to become the 
first female mechanic in her community: 

So she asks 
her teacher, who 
helps her find an 
NGO that gives 
her the loan 

She gets an 

, She is 

^ inspired 
to try to 
get a well- 

W respected 

r job 

/to 1 
i well- j 
ted A 

^ applies 
for a 
loan to 
W open a 




Girls will not learn just by enrolling in or even 
attending school regularly. As this chapter 
has shown, there are a number of obstacles 
and challenges adolescent girls continue to 
face while they are in education. By placing 
gender equality at the heart of learning, each 
of these challenges can be turned into an 

Deeply entrenched assumptions about 
girls are difficult to challenge, or even to 
uncover. Teacher-training courses need to 
explore gender in a way that allows teachers 
to reflect on their own understanding, as 
well as to challenge the discrimination and 
beliefs that result in inequality. Providing the 
right educational environment is complex, 
but not impossible. 

Resources can be made relevant and 
available; the place where girls learn can 
be safe and offer education when, where 
and how girls need it; their teachers can 
encourage them to aspire to do whatever 
they want to do. Educators can look not just 
at the number of resources and teachers, but 
at how those resources are being used and 
by whom, and at what and how teachers are 
teaching. By looking at these issues from the 
perspective of adolescent girls, education 
systems can remove the barriers which are 
preventing girls from learning. 

A focus on access issues, as we explored in 
Chapter 2, can lead to an analysis that places 
responsibility and even blame on parents for 
not supporting girls, or on culture or religion 
for limiting girls' opportunities. An analysis 
of the quality of education, though, reveals 
that parents' and communities' aspirations, 
expectations and attitudes towards girls' 

education can be shifted when the education 
that is available to girls is relevant, gender 
sensitive and respectful of their concerns. 

When girls learn in a place that 
understands them, meets their needs and 
challenges them in constructive rather than 
limiting ways, they are handed a key. But 
as we will show in the next chapter, finding 
the door into which that key will fit is a 
task that cannot be met by educators and 
schools alone. 

At school in 

So she tells him that 
if he supports her he 
will be a trailblazer. . 
and the local chief 
gives his support too 

So she goes out 
door to door to 
recruit local women 
who then tell their 
sons and husbands 


k Now Gloria's community 
^ boasts of her success, she 
earns enough to take 
^ care of her family, trains 
younger girls as mechanics^ 
Y ar| d mentors them on 
their path to success! 







Plan's school observation research in four countries 
- Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Uganda and 
Cambodia - sought to uncover some of the informal 
and subliminal messages teachers and fellow 
students send to girls, and how these may influence 
girls' learning achievements. The findings showed 
that classrooms are a 'gendered space' which 
can actively challenge, or alternatively support, 
traditional gender stereotypes, such as 'girls must sit 
at the back'. 

The diagrams below highlight how space reflects 
broader social dynamics that exist outside the 
classroom which are 'exported' into schools by 
teachers and students. 

Group of students 
disrupting the lesson 


School 1: urban school in Brazil 

What this diagram shows us is the disproportionate 
amount of the teacher's time taken up by the male 
students who were disrupting the lesson. The arrows 
show that during the lesson, the teacher walked past 
the female students, generally grouped together, and 
did not spend her time with them. 

In another lesson with the same group of students, 
the researcher observed that more than 20 of the 
male students did not engage with the lesson at all, 
and that the lesson began with a student returning 
from being punished by the headteacher. The 
researchers commented: 

"It was a very agitated class, with very nervous 
and aggressive students - both boys and girls. The 

presence of the teacher in the classroom didn't 
affect them and they didn't show any respect or 
consideration for her. There was a lot of cursing 
and offensive language, with the use of cruel, 
degrading nicknames. These attitudes were mostly 
shown by the boys, towards one another. The girls 
(two from a total of 10) called them bad names and 
hit them on their backs. The teacher couldn't do 
much amidst such chaos. In the end, three students 
were sent out of the classroom and in retribution 
they spat through the window, without worrying 
about who they would hit. A girl who was spat on 
screamed and cursed, and left the classroom to 
wash herself." 


School 2: rural school in 
the Dominican Republic 

As the diagram shows, in this classroom the teacher 
was turned towards the female students, moving 
towards them during the lesson, and they in turn 
were focused on her. In this lesson our researchers 
noted: "It is probable that not all students listen 
clearly due to the noise in the next-door classrooms. 
The higher level of participation is observed in girls. 
It's clear that the teacher pays more attention to the 
group of female students, as if it were obvious for 
her that the girls are going to answer the question." 

During another social science lesson, four male 
students had their phones out, and one was listening 
to music. All of the female students except two 
had their homework ready to be checked by their 
teacher, compared to only two of the male students. 
The male students in this class were also more likely 
to answer questions with a monosyllabic 'yes' or 'no', 
while female students were more likely to answer 
with a full sentence. 



School 3: peri-urban school in Brazil 

In this classroom there were 35 students and 
20 textbooks, but the researcher noted these 
were shared by students with their partners. This 
mathematics teacher had been at the school for 
nine years and had a very positive relationship with 
the students. She joked that if they were able to 
calculate a 10 per-cent discount when they went 
shopping, they should remember that they were 
her students. She encouraged her students to ask 
questions - this classroom had the highest number 
of male and female questions and responses of those 
which we observed. When a female student asked 
how to solve a problem, she was encouraged to 
have a go herself, and then explain it to the class. 
Her teacher told her: "You got it! You have a lot of 

The gendered dynamics of space are not, of 
course, the only factor. In School 1, for example, 
the teacher was in her first year of teaching with 
no prior training. In School 3, on the other hand, 
the teacher had a first degree and a teaching 
degree, as well as nine years' experience. What is 
interesting, however, is that an improvement in the 



quality of the lessons correlated with the way in 
which the space was organised in terms of gender 
- something the experienced teacher may well have 
been aware of. 


Life after a 

the promise of 
a better society 

• How education equips girls for life: the 
capabilities approach 

• Sexual and reproductive health: the 
impact of education 

• Relationships: the impact of education 
on friendships and family life 

• Does education prepare girls for the 
world of work? 

• Latin America: educated girls still 
behind boys in the job market 

• Does education create active citizens? 

"Education is the great engine of personal 
development. It is through education that 
the daughter of a peasant can become a 
doctor, that a son of a mineworker can 
become the head of the mine, that a child 
of farm workers can become the president 
> of a great nation. It is what we make out of 
| what we have, not what we are given, that 
I separates one person from another. " 
< Nelson Mandela 

"We are a group of hopers and a group 
of friends. Rabia hopes to become a 
veterinarian; Sena hopes to become a 
police officer; Intissar hopes to become 
a science teacher; Fatima hopes to 
become a teacher of earth and life 
sciences; Meriem hopes to become a 
psychologist; and Farud hopes to become 
a science teacher as well. And I hope to 
become a scientific engineer. Education 
is imperative to achieve our dreams and 
inform ourselves." 

Adolescent girl, Morocco 1 

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
We ask all children this question. And we 
hope that the answers they give will include 
big dreams and great aspirations. 

Every girl should dream of being a doctor 
or a teacher or head of state, as well as 
of the home and security she hopes to 
have. These dreams capture a vital role of 
education: to help girls imagine, strive for, 
and shape their own lives. 

How education opens up - or conversely 
closes down - girls' aspirations is complex 
and related to what happens while girls are 
in school as well as to what is going on all 
around them. 

Schoolgirls in 

So far in this report, we have been mainly 
concerned with policy and practice within 
schools and how the education system could 
better respond to the needs of adolescent 
girls. Governments have a duty to observe 
a girl's right to regular education in a place 
that encourages and fosters learning. Signals 
given to girls in schools, by adults and by 
other children, are vital in deciding whether 
education shuts down opportunities for girls 
or helps them find the key to open up new 

This chapter explores the role education 
plays in supporting girls to effect changes 
in the rest of their lives and in the world 
around them. It will argue that the 
essential outcome of education should 
be concerned with wider social justice. 
Without education, equality goals will 
be unreachable. But education alone 
is not sufficient. In both Latin America 
and the Middle East, recent increases in 
female education levels have not led to 
corresponding equality in the work-place 
or at home. 2 Girls and young women still 

emerge struggling with the idea that they 
are second-class citizens. If they are to 
play an equal part in society once they 
finish their education, that education must 
be empowering and equip them with the 
capacity and determination to challenge 
the discrimination they will inevitably face. 

Girls taking control 

"The idea of capabilities is that you ask the 
question: what are people actually able to 
do and to be? I specify 10 central things 
that I think are central indicators that any 
decent society would make quite pivotal..." 

Martha Nussbaum 3 

What girls are actually able to do and be gets 
to the heart of the matter. In this chapter, 
we look not only at what rights girls and 
young women have, but what they are able 
to do with those rights, using the capabilities 
approach articulated by Amartya Sen and 
developed as a list of indicators by Martha 
Nussbaum. 45 




1 Life - being able to live to the end of a 
human life of normal length. 7 

2 Bodily health - being able to have good 
health, including reproductive health; 
being adequately nourished; being able 
to have adequate shelter. 

3 Bodily integrity - being able to move 
freely from place to place; being 
able to be secure against violent 
assault, including sexual assault; 
having opportunities for sexual 
satisfaction and for choice in matters of 

4 Senses, imagination, thought - being 
able to imagine, to think, and to 
reason and to do these things in a way 
informed and cultivated by an adequate 

5 Practical reason - being able to form a 
conception of the good and to engage 
in critical reflection about the planning 
of one's own life. 

6 Affiliation - being able to live for and 
in relation to others, to recognise and 
show concern for other human beings, 
to engage in various forms of social 
interaction; having the capability for 
both justice and friendship. 

7 Other species - being able to live with 
concern for and in relation to animals, 
plants, and the world of nature. 

8 Play - being able to laugh, to play, to 
enjoy recreational activities. 

9 Control over one's environment - 
Political: being able to participate 
effectively in political choices that 
govern one's life; having the rights 
of political participation, free speech 
and freedom of association. Material: 
being able to hold property (both land 
and movable goods); having the right 
to seek employment on an equal basis 
with others. 

10 Emotions - being able to have 
attachments to things and persons 
outside ourselves; being able to love 
those who love and care for us; being 
able to grieve at their absence, to 
experience longing, gratitude, and 
justified anger; not having one's 
emotional development blighted by fear 
or anxiety. 

These 10 indicators cover all the aspects of 

an adolescent girl's life and her capacity for 

emotional, intellectual, creative and physical 

development as she becomes an adult. 

Her control over that life and her ability to 

bring about change will be largely based 

on what she can do and be in four critical 

areas: physical and reproductive health, 

emotional life and relationships, working life, 

participation and politics. 
Section One of this chapter will look at 

girls taking control of their bodies. It will look 

at how education supports girls to protect 

themselves and their health, and how it 

relates to their views on violence. 

The second section looks at girls in 

relationships, within their family and with 

their partners, and how education supports 

them to form more equal and respectful 

The third section looks at girls in work 

and how education supports girls to secure 

equal access to decent, well-paid work. This 

includes gaining valuable marketable skills as 

well as the confidence to demand equal pay. 

The final section looks at education's role in 

supporting girls' decision-making, including 

gaining fair and equal access, representation, 

and consideration under the law and in 

policymaking. After-school 

football in 


1 It's my body 

By making decisions about their health and 
making choices about sex and reproduction, 
girls exercise greater control over their bodies 
and improve their quality of life. 

Education is vital to girls' health, making 
it possible for girls to make their own 
decisions and choices about healthcare 
and reproduction. 8 Adolescent girls who 
are in school are likely to marry later, are 
less likely to have pre-marital sex and more 
likely to use contraception. Even completion 
of primary school is strongly associated 
with later marriage and childbirth, and 
lower lifetime fertility. 910 Research shows 
that as women gain four additional years 
of education, fertility rates drop by one 
birth, but girls with fewer than seven years' 
schooling are more likely to be married by 
age 18. 1112 An eight-country study from 1987 
to 1999 concluded that a girl's education 
from secondary level onwards is the most 
consistent factor in determining whether or 
not she will bear her first child while still an 
adolescent herself. 13 

Even basic literacy and numeracy increases 
a girl's ability to engage with the healthcare 
system and with health information; this 
helps her to choose a healthy lifestyle and 
diet. 14 

Low levels of education, coupled with 
societal and cultural constraints, mean that 
all too often adolescent girls have limited 
control over their own health. In Benin, 
Senegal and Burkina Faso, for example, 
fewer than 10 per cent of girls aged 15 to 
19 felt they were able to make their own 
healthcare decisions. 15 

As they grow up, educated girls are better Health 
able to manage and sustain their health. education in 

Studies show an inverse relationship between India. 
susceptibility to diseases, such as HIV, malaria 
and cholera, and level of education. 16 In 
Swaziland for example, a study found that 
two-thirds of teenage girls in school are free 
from HIV, whereas two-thirds of out-of- 
school girls are HIV positive. 17 Girls with more 
education know how to protect themselves 
against HIV, are more likely to delay sexual 
activity, and will have children later. 18 

"/ would like to get married when I am 25 or 
27... because I have my goals, as I told you 
already, to graduate [from high school] and 
also to graduate from university. " 

Indigenous adolescent girl, Guatemala 19 

There are a number of ways in which a girl's 
education can affect how many children 
she goes on to have. For example, a higher 
level of education may raise a girl's income, 
opening up a wider range of options and 
making her more likely to choose to have 
fewer children. Education can also improve 
her ability to understand information on 
fertility options and healthy pregnancy. 20 

"Through talking with the counsellor, my 
teacher and the Imam, my family have 
agreed to take part in a meeting... to 
discuss the suffering I might face during 
pregnancy and the illegality of child 
marriage. " 

Hosna, 14, Bangladesh, who managed to Community 
avoid early marriage after seeking guidance health worker 
and advice from a school counsellor 21 in Cambodia. 



But education does not always help girls 
avoid early pregnancy or delay sexual 
initiation. Research on girls exchanging 
sex for school fees - the 'sugar daddy' 
phenomenon - shows a high correlation 
with poverty, despite a girl's level of 
education and sometimes because of her 
desire to stay in school. 22 In recent research 
in West Africa, Plan has found that girls 
who engage in transactional sex have little 
power in these relationships and cannot 
insist on using condoms. They thus face high 
risks of sexually transmitted diseases and 
pregnancy. 23 

The ability to negotiate 

"Human Rights Watch and other activists 
point out that every abstinence-only 
programme that has ever been evaluated 
has failed to reduce rates of teen pregnancy 
or sexually transmitted disease. " 

Helen Epstein 24 

Over the past 10 years, many initiatives 
have been launched on girls' health. Some 
support girls' ability to make choices with 
respect to their sexual activity or health, 
such as the Safe Spaces programme in Kenya 
mentioned in Chapter 3. But many of these 
programmes focus simply on imparting 

information or presenting a religious or 
morally based dictum on how girls should 
behave. While the level of girls' knowledge 
of and attitudes towards sexual activity can 
be affected by these types of programmes, 
they appear to have little impact on girls' 
behaviour. This may be because so many 
programmes have promoted abstinence 
and offered no open discussion to help 
girls develop their ability to choose or to 
negotiate within sexual relationships. 25 
Interestingly, an experiment in Kenya in a 
set of randomly selected schools found that 
the provision of information to girls that HIV 
prevalence is higher among adult men than 
among teenage boys, led, after one year, 
to a 61.7 per cent decrease in the incidence 
of pregnancies with adult partners relative 
to the comparison group. Information was 
provided to primary school students in Grade 
8 by a trained officer from a local NGO 
rather than by a teacher. 26 

Moreover, research on the decline in HIV 
rates in Uganda over the 1990s shows that 
abstinence programmes had little impact, 
while programmes that addressed being 
faithful in relationships and challenging 
women's subservience to men were very 
effective. 2728 

Similarly, a number of studies have shown 
no change in attitude towards violence 
against women as a result of school-based 
programmes that specifically target this issue, 
rather than engaging in a more in-depth 
discussion about, for example, femininity 
and masculinity. 29 

As we have seen in Chapter 3 r the 'hidden 
gender curriculum' is critical. With the right 
educational environment, with teacher 
training and materials in place, girls and 
boys can build their capacity and confidence 
to engage in society. However, if a girl's 
education reinforces a stereotypical role, such 
as the primacy of women's roles as mothers 
and housewives, this may actually weaken 
the link between more education and lower 
fertility. 30 Studies have shown that whether 
teachers treat boys and girls equally, and 
whether harassment is prevented, has an 
effect on whether girls delay pre-marital sex 
and stay in school. 31 For example, a study in 
Benin found that school related gender-based 
violence causes around 40 per cent of female 
students to drop out of school. 32 

Good quality education appears to be 
an effective way to build girls' confidence, 
insights and networks, particularly in 
enabling them to tackle power issues and 
gender-based violence. Data on levels 
of education, correlated with women's 
responses to questions about their 
experiences of violence, bear this out, as the 
research below demonstrates. 



By Charley Nussey, Institute of Education, 
University of London 

There has been a lot of work on breaking the silence 
around the violence against girls which can occur 
in and around schools. Girls experience gender- 
based violence on the way to school, at school, 
and as a consequence of aspirations nurtured 
through school. 33 What this focus in research has 
perhaps masked, however, is the value of education 
in providing girls with confidence, insights and 
networks to challenge the gender-inequitable norms 
and power balances which are associated with 
violence. Some of the effects of this are evident 
when demographic and health survey data on 
women's level of education is analysed together with 
responses to questions about experience of different 
forms of violence. 

Violence against women is a hugely complex 
issue. While, as we discuss below, higher levels 
of education for women appear to provide some 
protection against forms of violence, educational 
attainment is not enough, without simultaneously 
addressing issues of power, representation and 

The trends across the DHS data in the tables 
opposite, 34 however, highlight that education has a 
protective role in terms of gender-based violence, 
in relation to the education level of both men and 
women. Not only are women who are educated 
to secondary level or higher less likely than their 
non-educated or primary-educated counterparts to 
experience violence, but men who are educated to 
secondary level or higher are less likely than their 
non-educated or primary-educated counterparts 
to perpetrate violence. These trends are in relation 
to education specifically, and are not proxies for 
socio-economic background or employment. The 
data suggests that secondary education has a bigger 
impact on gender-based violence than the more 
complex impact from high family wealth or female 

Women in 11 out of 14 countries analysed, 
who had been educated to secondary level or 
higher, were less likely to experience violence. For 
men, the data indicates that in nine out of the 
14 countries, a smaller proportion of husbands 
with higher levels of education have carried out 
physical or sexual violence. Although there are 

Women's experience of violence 
+ their own education level 


% of ever-married women aged 15-49 
who have ever suffered physical or sexual 
violence, by their education level 

No education 


education + 































21 .3 


























Women's experience of violence 
+ husband's education level 

% of ever-married women aged 15-49 
who have ever suffered physical or sexual 
Country violence, by husband's education level 

No education 


education + 
















no data 









































exceptions, and in some countries the percentage 
differences are small, it appears that more 
schooling for men may limit some levels of physical 
and sexual violence against their wives. For men 
in most countries, continuing schooling beyond 
the primary level decreases the risk of committing 

Education seems to shift attitudes, and cycles 
of violence can be broken as women become 
more likely to report it, or to join together to 
fight against gender-based violence and to 
campaign for progressive laws. In many countries, 
the proportion of secondary-educated women 
thinking that violence is justified is less than half 
the proportion of women who have only been 
educated to the primary level. This data* points 
clearly to the importance of secondary education 

* From 35 different countries globally, 22 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

in changing beliefs that violence against women is 

• In Ethiopia, 68 per cent of women with no 
education think that violence is justified when a 
women has burnt food, compared to 61 per cent 
of primary-educated women but 24 per cent of 
women with secondary education or higher. 

• In Nigeria, 71 per cent of women with no 
education think that violence is justified when 
a woman leaves the house without telling her 
husband, compared to 33 per cent of women 
with secondary education or higher. 

• In Kenya, 61 per cent of women with no education 
think that violence is justified if a woman argues 
with her husband, compared to 52 per cent of 
primary-educated women, but 27 per cent of 
women with secondary education or higher. 


2 These are my relationships 

"The thing that helps us to realise our 
dreams is encouragement of the family." 

Adolescent secondary school girl, Morocco 35 

Education plays an important role in 
increasing a girl's status within her family and 
also in wider society, especially in terms of the 
sharing of resources and power negotiations. 

For example, improved access to education 
has been shown to increase the age at which 
girls marry; and when girls marry later they are 
more likely to choose their partner, to marry 
men closer to their age, and to have more 
equal roles in their relationships. 36 37 Girls with 
more education are more likely to say that their 
opinion has weight in household decisions, 
and they are more likely to think that girls and 
women should have decision-making input on 
matters both within and outside the customary 
female domain. 38 Similarly, educated boys 
and men give more weight to the opinions of 
women and girls in their lives. 39 And fathers 
with secondary education themselves are more 
likely to see the value of it for their daughters 
as well as their sons. 40 

For adolescent girls, aspirations and life 
goals are deeply affected by the people 
around them with whom they have 
important relationships. For example, 
parents' expectations play a critical role in 
limiting or opening up a girl's aspirations. 
If parents signal to their daughter early in 
her educational career that they are unlikely 
to make the level of investment necessary 
for her to continue into and beyond her 
secondary education, a girl will reduce her 
expectations in line with her parents' goals 
and may drop out of school early. 

Programmes that link girls with mentors 
and that get mothers and fathers more 
involved in school management, have 
been shown to have an impact on girls 
in a number of ways. 41 They open paths 
for parents and girls to gain a better 
understanding of the role and potential 
of girls' education and increase parents' 
commitment to helping their daughters 
make the best use of that education after 
they complete. 42 They can also make 
schools into more girl-friendly spaces, 
encouraging girls to learn and to build their 

to read in 



Already 1,845 of them are trained as 
health activists, reaching thousands of 
children in rural schools with practical 
information about protecting themselves 
from HIV. Out of their own earnings, 
CAMA members today give back to their 
communities in a very tangible way: they 
fund the scholarships and support the 
educational costs of 220,184 children in 
their communities. 


members run 
a training 
session in 

When Camfed started working in 
Zimbabwe in 1993, its goal was to get 
more girls to enrol in and complete 
secondary school in rural areas. Camfed 
approached this issue with three key 
interventions: providing scholarships 
for girls based on need; making a 
commitment for the duration of her 
education to any girl it worked with; 
getting powerful gatekeepers in the 
community involved. 

In 1998, when the first cohort of 
Camfed-supported girls emerged from 
secondary school achieving an impressive 
98 per cent completion rate, they looked 
to each other and to Camfed to answer 
the question: what next? 44 In answer, 
this group of girls came together to form 
CAMA, an association of young educated 
rural women. CAMA members offer 
networking and support to each other. 
They mentor younger girls in school, take 
leadership positions in their communities 
- especially on issues affecting girls and 
young women - and serve as powerful 
role models for younger girls and older 
women alike. 

Today, there are over 17,000 CAMA 
members in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, 
Tanzania and Ghana and they work 
together as a powerful movement of 
young, educated African women to 
change the opportunities and aspirations 
of their peers and of younger girls. 

When it comes to developing girls' capacity 
to enter into respectful relationships and be 
valued in their families and communities, the 
way in which education teaches boys and 
girls about what is socially appropriate could 
be more important than the actual skills 
or knowledge they are taught. This applies 
equally to giving boys an opportunity to 
engage with issues of masculinity, as giving 
girls an opportunity to think about their roles 
in society. Education can, especially during 
the crucial stage of adolescence, set patterns 
of behaviour that affect choices throughout 
adult life. 

"The president of the young reporters' club 
approached me to ask if I wanted to become 
a member. . . It was the first time in my life 
to meet up and discuss with other peers like 
that. The joining of the club changed many 
things in my life in the years to come. " 
Rama, Burkina Faso, Participating in Plan's 
'Young Reporters Club' 45 



3 I want to work 

"Helping my parents when I grow up and 
getting a job of my own is what matters to 
me. I want to help my parents, who looked 
after me when I was young. " 

Girl, 14, Uganda 46 

The benefits of girls' education have been 
demonstrated by a wide range of studies, 
both in terms of percentage increases in 
national GDP and the contribution educated 
mothers make in raising their families out of 
poverty. 4748 How much more an educated 
girl can earn has remained a central 
argument for governments investing in girls' 



• If more adolescent girls had access 
to quality secondary education, their 
future wages would increase. An 
extra year of secondary schooling for 

adolescent girls can mean an increase 
of 10 to 20 per cent. 49 The benefits 
of education grow exponentially in 
proportion to the level of education 
girls complete. 

If young women were able to start 
successful businesses, economic 
growth would increase. In Tanzania it 
could add one per cent to the annual 
economic growth rate if barriers to 
women entrepreneurs were removed. 50 
If more young women had decent jobs 
with good pay, gross domestic product 
(GDP) would go up. In India, if the 
ratio of female to male workers were 
increased by only 10 per cent, total per 
capita output would increase by eight 
per cent. 51 

If women's labour force participation 
had increased at the same rate as 
education during the 1990s in the 
Middle East and North Africa, the 
average household income would have 
been higher by 25 per cent. 52 
If young women had better access 
to farming land, fertilisers, credit 
and agricultural training, more food 
would become available and children's 
nutrition would improve. If women 
farmers in Kenya were given the 
same level of education as their male 
partners, their yields for maize, beans 
and cowpeas would increase by up to 
22 per cent. 53 

Education and employment are linked 
to young women postponing marriage 
and scheduling births later in life. 54 It 
has been estimated that an extra year of 
female schooling reduces fertility rates 
by 10 per cent. In Mali, women with 
secondary education have, on average, 
three children, while those with no 
education have an average of 7. 55 
Delayed marriage and fewer children 
mean a better chance of increasing per 
capita income, savings and achieving 
more rapid growth. 56 
If young women were better able to 
access credit, more children would 
go to school and households would 
have more cash. Female borrowing 
from microcredit institutions has had a 
larger impact on children's enrolment in 
school than borrowing by males. 57 


And indeed, as girls' access to education has 
increased, so have their economic activities 
and their earnings. The participation of 
women in the labour force has increased 
worldwide during the past few decades. 
In developed countries, it rose from 38 
per cent in the 1970s to 45 per cent in the 
1990s; and in developing countries, it went 
up from 20 per cent to 30 per cent over the 
same time. 58 This increase may be due to a 
multiplicity of factors, including the relative 
importance of the service sector in the 
economy. But it remains true that without 
increased access to education, women 
and girls would be less well-placed to take 
advantage of the economic opportunities of 
the twenty-first century. 

Such economic Yates of return to 
education' (or ROREs) have been at the 
root of the policy to focus on primary 
education. Over the past 10 years, ROREs 
have been used to support the view that 
primary education is enough - or even 
that four years of education is enough, this 
being the point at which the marginal gains 
in income of additional years of education 
appear to lessen. 59 This policy conclusion 
has been detrimental for adolescent girls. 
Additionally, the early research, which was 
so influential on education policy, was 
based on data from the 1960s. More recent 
data shows that rates of return at secondary 
level are increasing. 6061 

A research study in 2007 demonstrated 
that, in today's labour market, secondary 
education does have higher rates of return 
in comparison to primary education There 
is a dearth of skilled labour and a 
reduction in the number of jobs that can 
be done by those with only a basic level of 

education. Secondary and tertiary graduates The tomato 
are increasingly a vital component for a harvest in 

successful economy. 62 Kenya. 

Measuring the potential incomes of 
educated girls also limits our view of how 
girls and women interact with work. While 
it may seem obvious that more education 
leads to better employment prospects, the 
relationship between girls' and women's 
opportunities in the labour market and 
their level of education is actually far more 


by Nikki van der Gaag 
Fawziah al Bakr was a lucky child. When 
she was growing up, she says; "The 
government was just opening schools 
and not only were they free, but we got 
a monthly allowance. They desperately 
needed teachers for the girls' schools so I 
was guaranteed a job at the end as well." 
Today, Fawziah is professor of education 
at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi 
Arabia. She is unusual in having such a 
senior academic job in a country where 
women still cannot drive or vote or go 
out without a male chaperone, and where 
universities are segregated so that women 
and men cannot study together. But then 
she is an unusual woman. She puts it 
all down to her mother's influence. "My 
mother was not educated, but when my 
father left her with seven children she 
was determined not only that we should 
all go to school, but that we should get a 
university education." 


She feels that many things have 
improved since she was young: "Girls 
are now getting educated, the quality of 
education is much better than it was in 
my day; and in universities there is an 
opening up of different specialities, which 
means that, in theory at least, teaching is 
not the only profession open to women." 

But she is worried about the future for 
the young women she teaches. "It is much 
more difficult for a woman to get a job 
today than it was when I was young. There 
are many thousands of qualified teachers 
applying for every post. And there are few 
other jobs that women here can do." 

A survey in 2010 showed that although 
93 per cent of women have a secondary 
or university degree, only 18 per cent 
of women in Saudi Arabia have jobs, 
compared with Kuwait (41 per cent), Qatar 
(40 per cent) and the UAE (38 per cent). 63 

The country's strict laws on women 
make it difficult to hold down a job. 
Professor Fawziah says: "Women do not 
go outside in the street because they 
would be harassed." 

Women still earn less than men in almost 
every country, with a global wage gap 
average of 22 per cent, increasing to 38.5 
per cent in some developing countries. 64 
Therefore, while educated girls may be 
earning more than girls without an education, 
it still does not mean that girls will earn as 
much as boys for the same work or that they 
can access the same work as boys. Examples 
of these gaps in pay and gender difference in 
access to different types of employment can 
be found in almost every country. 65 

"Many women in Uganda are still held back 
by inadequate resources, lack of capital, 
traditional and cultural norms that dictate 
that we must be submissive and act like 
women. These stereotypes will continue to 
quash our quest for equality." 

Rebecca Namayanja, fisher, 
Lake Victoria, Uganda 66 

For women in societies where male and 
female roles and status are most clearly 
divided, the gaps are even greater. Women 
earn as little as 50 per cent of men's wages 
in the agricultural sector, which is where 

most women from poor and marginalised 
communities work. 67 There is also proof that 
girls' education contributes more to economic 
growth and increased family income, where 
society and culture allow girls and women 
to work outside the home. 68 The nature of 
informal, irregular employment - which is 
less secure and often unregulated and can 
be done in the home - means that this form 
of employment may do little to contribute to 
girls' empowerment and agency. 69 


In Malaysia, women have achieved 
parity in education, with girls accounting 
for 50 per cent of pupils enrolled in 
primary and secondary education. 70 In 
higher education, there has been a huge 
expansion in girls' enrolment in recent 
decades, rising from 29 per cent of 
students in higher education in 1970 to 
61 per cent of students in 2006. However, 
there are signs of male disengagement 
from education, higher achievement 
among girls than boys, and a decline in 
the male population at tertiary level from 
about 50 per cent in the 1980s to about 
40 per cent in 2000. 

Despite girls' gains in education, a 
gender gap in employment and wages 
persists. Female participation in the 
labour force declined from 47 per cent 
in 1990 to 45 per cent in 2006. The 
majority of women in employment are in 
lower-income occupations and in clerical 
and service positions. While women 
occupy just over half of the management 
positions in public services, they occupy 
only a quarter of the most senior 
positions. While women receive the same 
wages and privileges as men in the public 
sector, in the private sector they are 
subject to discriminatory practices. 71 

Therefore, while Malaysian women 
have achieved rights to and within 
education, they do not appear to have 
gained the ability to secure greater 
equality in work as a result. They 
remain shut out of equal access to and 
pay in decent and valuable work. The 
government is intending to address this 
by instituting a 30 per-cent quota for 
women in decision-making positions in 


the public sector, but this policy could 
be aided by measures to address gender 
equality and gender norms in education. 

In some countries, the positive relationship 
between years of education and girls' access 
to more and better-paid work, has not 
held true. The ratio of girls to boys with at 
least secondary education has increased in 
China and India from 1995 to 2010. 72 Yet 
during the same period, girls' labour force 
participation rate declined steadily from 79 
per cent to 75 per cent in China and from 37 
per cent to 30 per cent in India. 73 

In Kerala, which has the highest rates of 
girls' education amongst all the Indian states, 
girls' labour force participation is also one of 
the lowest and girls' unemployment is the 
highest. 74 While boys' work participation 
rates have increased in the past two decades, 
girls' rates have declined, contrary to the 
general trend in other Indian states. In Sri 
Lanka, unemployment rates are highest 
for girls with secondary-school level 
qualifications and above, which has been 
attributed mainly to the narrower band 
of occupations in which girls and women 
receive and accept job offers. 75 

The World Bank has argued that one of Schoolgirls in 
the reasons that earnings differ for men and Malaysia. 
women is that subject choice still differs by 
gender, particularly at tertiary level. Women 
are more likely to graduate with a degree 
in education or in the humanities, leading 
to career trajectories with different average 
earnings. 76 

But this does not fully explain the pay 
gap. Even for men and women who hold 
the same degree, incomes and employment 
choices can still be significantly different. 
Research in the USA found that even in the 
highest-paid jobs, women doing the same 
job as men earned up to 25 per-cent less. 77 
For women and men with science degrees, 
55 per cent of men and 33 per cent of 
women are in occupations relating to maths, 
physics or engineering; on the other hand, 
22 per cent of women and 13 per cent 
of men with science degrees went on to 
become teachers. 78 Fields of work that are 
regarded as 'female' (or become so) are also 
valued and paid less. 79 

How, then, can education enable more 
equal and open choices for girls in work? 
First, by developing a wide range of skills 
that girls can use in the labour market, 


The content of the formal curriculum does 
have an impact on the economic returns a 
girl can see from her education. For example, 
the language in which she is primarily taught 
can affect the work opportunities available 
to her. 83 If education also concerns itself 
with social transformation, it can help girls 
to overcome historical disadvantages and 
stereotypes that persist in economies. This 
type of education would, first, directly 
address gender issues, particularly in subject 
and career choice (such as girls in science) 
and, second, provide additional training for 
girls in leadership and decision-making. If 
educators address these issues directly, girls 
could leave school with a greater capacity to 
recognise discrimination and have the skills 
to demand fair, decent and equal treatment 
at work. 84 

education can increase girls' productive 
capacity, leading to better employment 
prospects. 80 Second, education can foster 
attitudes, values and ideas that will give 
greater flexibility and make the transition to 
paid employment easier for girls. 

This is both in terms of the work itself 
and equipping girls to succeed in an as 
yet unequal environment, with greater 
confidence and support networks. 81 As we 
saw in Chapter 3, equal access to technical 
and vocational training for girls and boys, 
without gendered assumptions about what 
type of training is appropriate, will go a long 
way to changing attitudes outside education 
as well. 

The state of Victoria in Australia offers 
a core curriculum that promotes science 
and mathematics as critical subjects 
for girls as well as boys, trumping 
traditional gender stereotypes regarding 
these subject choices. In the first four 
years of secondary education science 
is a compulsory and core part of the 
curriculum. The science syllabus for each 
subject is designed to support the link 
between science and society, therefore 
explicitly addressing the aversion 

"/ was really struggling in the village when 
I heard a message on our community radio 
about a project enrolling girls who wanted 
to learn certain skills. My brother, who was 
trying to get me married, did not encourage 
me at all. I went and took the test, which I 
passed. People were giving me bad looks, 
because here in the northern part of Sierra 
Leone, women are not encouraged to go to 
school, but it's even worse when they try 
to do jobs that are 'supposed to be men's 
jobs', like an electrician, mechanic, or 
engineer. " 

Aissata, 21, Sierre Leone 82 


girls have traditionally shown towards 
physical science subjects. Consequently 
Australia has achieved almost zero gender 
difference in science literacy, though 
some stereotypical differences still exist 
over choice of science subjects, with 
more girls preferring biology and boys 
preferring physics. 85 

But the role education can play must be 
viewed alongside other policies that affect 
young women's work, such as employment 
law, maternity and paternity rights, childcare 
and social acceptance of, and support for, 
working mothers. Employment policy and 
social context are crucial in determining how 
and whether girls can use their education 
to improve their working conditions and 

This is most important because when 
girls and women do come to dominate in 
any sphere - whether it is in an area of 
work, such as teaching, or in achievement in 
education, such as in literacy - that area can 
swiftly become devalued, with pay dropping 
and returns decreasing. 86 

The feminisation of poverty, where women 
make up a disproportionate percentage 
of the world's poor, is well known. 87 Less 
well researched is the 'feminisation of 
achievement' - the phenomenon whereby 
the value and impact of a degree or a job 
decreases as the number of women reaching 
that level increases. 

Latin America is a prime example. Today Laos teacher 
in most Latin American countries, more girls in front of the 
enrol in school, perform better, and continue class. 
through to higher levels of education than 
boys. Yet boys and men still earn far more 
than girls and women, while violence against 
women remains high. 

The World Economic Forum's research 
shows that educational attainment for girls in 
Latin America is just behind North America but 
higher than Europe. 88 Yet in three countries 
in Latin America not one woman holds 
ministerial office; across the region only 13 
women for every 100 men hold political office. 

Women in some countries of Latin 
America and the Caribbean earn up to 40 
per cent less than men. 89 It may be the very 
security that men and boys feel in their 
higher social position, that gives girls and 
women the space to achieve educationally. 
Boys and men need not fear that their own 
privilege is in any way threatened by better 
educated girls and women. 90 

The real issue is power. Equality between 
the sexes is about more than equal access to 
resources or services. As the Latin American 
example shows, girls' inequality is rooted 
in deeply embedded attitudes that place 
greater value on the choices of men and 
boys over those of women and girls. This is in 
spite of numerous studies showing that when 
women do get more access and equality, 
they make a great contribution to society 
and improve opportunities for all. 91 



By Martha Lanza Meneses' 

Closing the gender gap in education has been, and 
still is, on the agenda for Latin American women. 
However, despite significant progress - Latin America 
is seen very much as an educational success story 
-the reality is complex. The relationship between 
girls' and young women's access to and continued 
presence in school, and their socio-economic 
situation upon leaving the education system, is 

In recent years, the region has made significant 
strides in terms of education for all and shows high 
levels of parity, especially in primary education, 
where girls are tending to outperform boys; 
even the rates of those finishing their secondary 
education are higher for young women. They stay 
in school longer, and in most countries the drop- 
out rate is higher among boys; women are also 
more likely to attend university than men. 

However, a number of factors associated with 
the recurrence of gender- and ethnicity-based 
inequalities and hierarchies mean that access 
to schooling and remaining in education do not 
necessarily contribute greatly to their future 
socio-economic status. One of the most significant 
indicators in this respect is gender gaps in income. 
On average, comparing men and women of the 
same age and education level, the gender gap in 
income is 17 per cent. While in Brazil the gap is 30 
per cent, the differences are minimal in Bolivia and 
Guatemala, as the following data illustrates. 

Salary gaps by gender 92 

I atin A inprira 
Ldll 1 1 Ml 1 lei ILcl 

17 9% 
I / .Z /o 



r cii dgUdy 







7.1 % 





Dominican Rep. 


El Salvador 








Costa Rica 












In general, men earn more than women in any 
age group, at every level of education, in any field 
of employment, in large and small companies alike. 
The wage gap is lowest among young people with 
university degrees. The largest gaps appear between 
lower-income workers with incomplete secondary 
education, who live in rural areas. In general, the 
largest wage gap is seen among the self-employed, 
which contradicts the traditional notion that wage 
gaps are caused by discrimination by employers. 

Salary gaps by ethnicity 93 

Latin America 28% 

Ecuador 4% Paraguay 22% 

Bolivia 17% Guatemala 24% 

Peru 21% Brazil 30% 

Wage gaps corresponding to ethnicity widen 
markedly in countries with indigenous populations. 
Brazil has the highest ethnicity pay gap and Ecuador 
has the lowest. This data indicates that in these 
contexts, the situation of indigenous women is twice 
as complex. 

i Education, Gender and Policy specialist for the region of Latin America 

Various efforts to explain the causes of this 
situation place emphasis on the educational 
system and the structure and dynamics of the 
labour market, both structures which generate and 
reproduce the discrimination and subordination of 

School and the reproduction of inequality 

An underlying factor is the construction of schools 
designed to preserve social, ethnic and gender 
differences and hierarchies, a product of the long 
process of colonialism in Latin America and the 
Caribbean. Education systems shape and reproduce 
gender stereotypes and discourage the employment 
of women in non-traditional female areas. 

On the whole, teachers' expectations regarding 
future employment options are gender-biased. 
The trend among young women entering tertiary 
education is to get into areas related to reproductive 
roles, while the presence of women in engineering 
or technical fields, for example, is lower. Even more 
worrying, however, is the fact that in public schools, 
which provide education for the poorest sectors of 
society, teachers' expectations for students' future 
life is perverse: in general teachers think that upon 
finishing school poor students can only aspire to 
be construction workers, street vendors, domestic 
workers - meaning that they will end up in the least 
valued and lowest paid areas of the labour markets 94 

By the same token, parents' expectations 
regarding the future of their children are, in the 
best-case scenarios, aimed at their 
integration into traditionally female 
or male areas. This is especially true 
in the case of migrant families of 
indigenous origin and poor people. 
The university subject choices of 
young women also demonstrate 
this trend. 95 

Meanwhile, the school does 
not incorporate the world views 
or the scientific and technological 
knowledge of indigenous peoples 
- especially of women - into 
the composition of the school 
curriculum. As a result, in rural 
areas, knowledge and practices 
required for the reproduction of 
economic, social and family life are 
not learned in school, so parents 
are reluctant to let their children, 
and especially their daughters, 

stay in school until they complete their secondary 
education. An investment in education does not have 
immediate benefits to the family, and even in cases 
where the sons and daughters do finish secondary 
school, the kind of jobs they get do not necessarily 
improve in line with the increased investment in 

Employment of women 

In most countries in the region, women's 
participation in the workforce has increased since the 
early 1990s at rates close to one per cent per year, 
especially among middle-aged women and those 
with a lower level of education. Participation in the 
labour force has always been greater among women 
with higher levels of education; therefore, increasing 
enrolment has led to higher overall numbers of 
women in the workforce. It is estimated that changes 
in educational level account for 
between 30 per cent and 40 per 
cent of the increase in female 
participation in the workforce. 96 
In general, this expansion has been 
driven by increased participation 
of women in all sectors and not 
only in traditionally female areas, 
although there continues to be 
a concentration in traditionally 
female occupations in which the 
pay is low. These trends suggest 
that increased participation is 
more related to the removal of 
constraints than to the expansion 
of employment in certain sectors 
open to women. 

Female employment has 
increased steadily, despite 
fluctuations in economic activity. 
This pattern indicates that the 

ii Especially in rural areas or schools with high migrant populations. 


main causes of the increase in female participation 
must be long-term factors such as better access 
to education, lower fertility rates and increased 
availability of clean drinking water. There is also an 
increasing adoption of electrical appliances, which 
save time for women which they can devote to paid 
work, in addition to encouraging a change in the role 
of women in the home. 

The participation of women in the labour market is 
at its highest in the informal sector of the economy 
in most of the region. This means that women settle 
into occupations that generate less income, are less 
valued, where the use of technology is low, which 
require a lower educational level and which allow 
them to do housework and childcare while still 
earning money. The largest gender gaps in income 
are recorded in this sector. 

Women are less likely to be business owners 
employing other workers and more likely to be self- 
employed, without the opportunity to expand their 
businesses, possibly due to the burden of domestic 
work and care that adversely affects the size and 
performance of a company. 

On the other hand, women who migrate 
and enter the agricultural industry do so under 
precarious conditions, without social security and 
other benefits, and in occupations that require 
'feminine skill', while the men become technicians 
and the like. This once again creates income gaps 
and occupational segregation. In the case of the 
manufacturing industry, the trend is the same. 
Finding out why women are joining the labour 
market with these characteristics requires 
gathering different points of view and possible 

The options for women 

The basic questions regarding the characteristics 
of female employment are related to the following: 
whether it is a matter of choice or for lack of better 
options; whether they have fewer opportunities 
in the formal environment or they forego such 
opportunities in search of more flexible working 
hours or conditions; and finally, whether employers 
are less likely to employ women with children or 
other people to care for. 

According to this trend, it seems women who 
come to the labour market do so as a result of one 
of two opposing forms of logic: the logic of necessity 
in the case of the poorest, especially those who are 
least educated and are heads of household; and the 
logic of choice and autonomy in the case of urban 
women, with high levels of education and who no 
longer have young children. The problem is that 
in both cases the gender gaps remain, both in the 
workplace and in terms of income, suggesting that 
the 'choices' for women are conditioned by a host of 
other factors. 

The social construction of 'qualifications' 

Gender inequalities at work have to do with a 
social process of qualification. Mi The masculine/ 
feminine distinction is the hub around which 
the notion of qualification is defined. From this 
perspective, their socialisation and training in the 
education system enhance and stimulate certain 
areas of qualification, which are assigned a lower 
social value. Thus, there is an appropriation of 
the technological sphere on the part of the males, 
leading to the social construction of women 
as technically incompetent. This has an effect 
on women's identity, their future employment 
prospects and their integration into productive 

The consequences of these perceptions are clearly 
manifested in the wage and hierarchical structures, 
which determine a difference between the 
perception of skills and qualities required and those 
held by people of either sex. This is the prevailing 
culture in companies or institutions in which both 
men and women work. 

Family strategies and social networks 

The rural-urban migration, a widespread 
phenomenon in Latin America, is characterised 
in general because migrant families or children 

iii The qualification is not only a technical definition of the quality of work but a relationship between certain technical operations and the estimation of their 
social value, in that establishing the value of work corresponds to a social construction subject to conflicts and negotiations, as a process of differentiation and 
construction of distinctions between types of work, but also among the workers who perform these tasks. 



Trying to 
make a living 
in Mexico. 

usually enter the labour market based on family 
strategies determined by social networks. New 
migrant women usually enter a process of practical 
apprenticeship which is very poorly paid, despite 
having completed primary or secondary school in 
their home region. 

In cases where these networks have an 
economic base in profitable but informal 
businesses usually managed by women, education, 
in the form of university or other studies, is not 
a part of their expectations, since the success of 
these businesses is not dependent on education. 
This means that women leading successful 
businesses have not necessarily completed high 
school. Meanwhile, economic success does 
not define more equitable gender relations. By 
contrast, it tends to accentuate machismo and the 
subordination of women. 97 

Migration and signs in the labour market 

In rural areas, women's earnings per hour are lower 
than those of men and their options for achieving 
maximum wages are either found in urban areas, as 
self-employed workers, or by staying in rural areas as 
wage earners. 

The number of years spent in education has 
a relatively minor importance in explaining the 
average income per hour worked - that is, it makes 
no difference whether they have four or 11 years 
of schooling, or have no schooling at all. Thus the 
motivation of a migrant does not seem to be the 
hope for higher returns on the human capital, but 

rather the opportunity to jump from one context to 
another, to move from an area where incomes are 
low to another where they are somewhat higher. 

In urban areas, economic conditions may be 
somewhat better, but differences in opportunities 
still remain. This suggests that while the demand 
for education enables migration, education alone 
is not sufficient for access to equal opportunities. 
This indicates that in settings with high indigenous 
populations, the 'market signalling theory' seems to 
work. iv This is to say, that despite a person trying to 
improve her 'signal' through education, she cannot 
change her 'sign': being an indigenous person or 
a female. Therefore being indigenous, or being a 
woman with any level of education, determines that 
she will face adverse conditions in the urban labour 

Economies with low demand for 
human capital 

In countries where a large amount of the economic 
activity is characterised by unskilled labour requiring 
little education, where the economy does not 
demand human capital as a raw material, and where 
also the labour market is segregated by gender 
and ethnicity, the success of girls, and especially 
indigenous girls, in school is unlikely to translate 
into better job opportunities and therefore higher 
future income. Policies to promote education for all 
must therefore be accompanied by measures in the 
economic sphere. 

Final thoughts 

The set of factors related both to education and to 
the structure and dynamics of the labour market 
help to explain more or less accurately - given the 
differences between the countries of the region 
- why equality in education is a necessary, but 
not a sufficient, factor in the empowerment of 
women. Everything indicates that the complexity 
of this problem requires measures to disassemble 
the mechanisms and systems that act to preserve 
discrimination and subordination of women, and 
which consolidate the sexual division of labour as a 
structural factor within gender relations, leading to 
the naturalisation of inequality and hierarchies. 

The sexual division of labour, in the case of 
Latin America, is interwoven with factors of race, 
ethnicity and social class, to construct a complex 
reality in which, on a daily basis, women feel the 
consequences of being female, indigenous and poor. 

iv According to the signalling theory in the labour market, a person has signs and signals that are seen when looking for work; the signs are unchangeable, (sex, skin 
colour etc.). The signals are modifiable (e.g. education). 


4 I have a voice 

Girls need to be involved equally and freely 
in decision-making and policymaking so that 
they can take an active role in shaping the 
world around them. If a girl has no voice 
and no power, then her ability to protect 
her health, to be valued in her relationships, 
and to gain equal and decent work can 
easily be subverted. If girls and women 
cannot represent themselves, their views and 
concerns will be marginalised, misunderstood 
or silenced altogether. By engaging in 
decision-making, whether through formal 
political structures or in other civic or 
community spaces, girls can influence the 
policies and practices that are central to their 

Girls Making Media is a three-year 
project established in 2010, which aims 
to strengthen the capacity of adolescent 
girls engaged in children's and youth 
organisations in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra 
Leone and Togo. The project advocates 
against discrimination and gender- 
based violence by making efficient use 
of diverse forms of media. In addition, 
the project works to support the 
establishment of a core group of female 
youth speakers. At the end of the three 
years, the project hopes to increase girls' 
opportunities to access media-related 
jobs, to train adult female journalists in 
issues facing adolescent girls in West 
Africa, and to increase public awareness 
of the needs of adolescent girls in the 

"We learn how to find information and to 
bring out problems and get solutions. " 

Female participant, 
Girls Making Media Project 

The programme directly benefits more 
than 560 adolescent girls and 140 adult 
journalists, and indirectly reaches an 
audience of approximately 600,000 
via national and community radio and 
400,000 via national television. The 
project trains talented adolescent girls 
to enter the journalism field, to fight 


gender discrimination 
and inequalities, and to 
improve the quality of 
reporting on adolescent 
girls' issues in West Africa. 
Even though the project is 
primarily focused on girls, 
25 per cent of membership 
of the clubs formed is 
opened to boys. This is 
to ensure representation * 
and particularly bring t 
boys along in the fight against gender 

In 2010, Girls Making Media began 
with one workshop for 20 young women 
on media skills and gender, and has 
since grown to serve more than a dozen 
schools. The project provides digital 
cameras, voice recorders, a radio, a notice 
board and Flip cameras, as well as the 
opportunity to meet and interview local 
and national figures, with a focus on 
women journalists, government officials 
and businesswomen. The project also 
helps to disseminate girl-made media 
through community, national and 
international media outlets. 


"I used to walk around without seeing, 
but now I see everything because I am 
looking for news. My mind has been 

Female participant, 
Girls Making Media Project 

Education imparts important basic skills that 
enable girls to engage in the wider world. 
Literacy and critical reflection, for example, 
are skills that a good quality education 
should provide, and both are necessary for 
girls to be able to participate in decision- 
making and engage in politics. Girls need 
to be able to read, understand and critique 
party policies and campaign literature, to 
discuss and reflect on their choices, and vote. 
Numeracy can help girls hold government 
to account and demand transparency in 
government budgets, helping them identify 
where and how their needs can be better 

Beyond literacy and numeracy, education 
can also act as a training ground for building 
political skills. For example, participation in 
school councils builds skills in public speaking 
and also in organising collectively. Such skills 
may inspire higher levels of confidence and 
know-how in girls, as well as an increased 
willingness to defend their interests. The 
effect may also be seen in girls' increased 
negotiating power within the home, along 
with improved reasoning, self-esteem and 
articulacy. 98 

Similarly, in India, one study found 
that, regardless of caste, religion, class 
or political affiliation, a clear positive 
relationship existed between the level of 
education a girl had and her likelihood of 
voting and of running for office." As such, 
it is clear that going to school actually 
empowers girls to engage in decision- 
making and leads to greater mobilisation of 
girls and women. 100 

Outside of formal education, literacy 
drives and civic education have been 
shown to contribute to an increase in 
women's and girls' participation in civil 
and political society. 101 For example, in 
Uganda in the 1980s, political awareness 
campaigns resulted in a marked increase 
in women's participation in local and 
national elections, as well as women 
joining protests and forming civil society 

organisations. 102 In Andhra Pradesh, the 
Total Literacy Campaign in the 1980s 
and 1990s resulted in women taking 
direct political action against the selling 
of alcohol in an attempt to control men's 
drinking, which is strongly associated with 
domestic violence. 103 



The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural 
Rights has stated that "education is both a human 
right in itself and an indispensable means of 
realising other human rights." 104 So fundamental is it 
to human development, that access to education may 
be seen as a 'gateway' of empowerment, expanding 
the full spectrum of rights. The 1994 International 
Conference on Population and Development 
encouraged adolescent girls to continue with 
education in order to "equip them for a better life, to 
increase their human potential, to help prevent early 
marriages and high-risk child-bearing and to reduce 
associated mortality and morbidity". 105 

Objective 6.7 (b) of the same outcome document 
developed this idea, calling on all states to 
"meet the special needs of adolescents and 
youth, especially young women, with due regard 
for their own creative capabilities, 
for social, family and community 
support, employment opportunities, 
participation in the political 
process, and access to education, 
health, counselling and high quality 
reproductive health services". 106 

At the 2011 Gender Policy Forum 
international conference on adolescent 
girls' access to education, the keynote 
speaker emphasised that "gender 
equality in teaching and learning and 
gender equality in leadership and 
management are complementary", 
saying that girls will only become 
future leaders if they are able to pass 
through an education system that fosters their 
development equally alongside boys. 107 

Norway's Agency for Development Cooperation 
has established a programme which makes local 
communities more aware of the importance of 
allowing girls to receive an education, and to 
encourage them to become teachers - thus becoming 
role models for younger girls still at school. 108 

Female representation in education does not 
always necessarily lead to equal representation in 
the wider job market. In Mongolia it was recently 
noted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to 
education that the representation of women in the 
education system is "in contradiction with the lack 
of participation by women in the public affairs of 
the country". 109 

Young women continue to find it difficult 
to access certain job markets which have 

traditionally been male-dominated. An OECD 
report from 2011 stated that boys are still more 
likely to end up in computing or engineering 
industries, suggesting a need for school-level 
campaigns attracting girls to these areas, 
combined with supportive employment and 
family policies. 110 

The Jordanian Ministry of Planning and 
International Cooperation has instigated a new 
project to improve the job prospects of 900 new 
female graduates, providing employability skills 
training and job vouchers to encourage firms to hire 
new female graduates and help overcome gender 
stereotypes. 111 

It is often difficult to challenge gender 
stereotypes regarding separation of work. UNESCO 
recently acknowledged that progress towards 

gender equity in labour markets has 
been much slower than in school 
systems. 112 In South Sudan, a new 
programme is currently being run to 
provide safe spaces for young women 
to socialise and seek jobs training. 
The vocational training focuses on 
non-traditional job roles for women 
in South Sudan, such as carpentry, 
joinery, welding and brick making. 113 

In Norway, a quota system to 
encourage more women to further 
a career in politics has been so 
successful that it has now been 
scrapped. Such quotas are divisive, but 
they have also proved to function as 
'incubators' for encouraging women to participate. 
In Rwanda, a post-genocide change to the 
Constitution in 2003 set a quota for 30 per cent 
of the parliament to be made up of women. That 
number climbed to 56 per cent in the last elections 
in 2008, the highest percentage in the world. 114 A 
parliamentary women's caucus in Rwanda (FFRP) 
has also led a "successful effort to pass ground- 
breaking legislation on gender-based violence in 
part by involving and garnering support from their 
male colleagues". 115 

Young women still face the prospect of 'glass 
ceilings' in many industries and in many countries. 
In Kenya, whilst a new constitution has established 
that no more than two-thirds of any leadership/ 
management positions can be of one gender, and 
despite high levels of female teachers, there are still 
very few female headteachers. 116 


Holding public office 

According to global data there is, at best, 
a tenuous link between girls' secondary 
education rates and proportions of women in 
national legislatures. 117 Country by country, 
there is a wide variation. 118 In some places, 
educated, affluent girls show indifference to 
politics or display a high degree of cynicism 
as to the effectiveness of any kind of political 
engagement. 119 In the South Indian state of 
Kerala, for example, despite high levels of 
girls' education, there is a 'gender paradox', 
whereby girls have high social status but 
the women's movement is weak and few 
women serve in political office. 120 Similarly, 
in the USA, girls outnumber boys in higher 
education but women have persistently low 
representation in politics. 121 

By contrast, Uganda, Rwanda and 
Mozambique, amongst the poorest countries 
in the world and with much lower levels 
of girls' education and women's literacy, 
each have between 25 and 30 per cent 
representation of women in parliament. This 
high level of representation is due in part 
to quotas (Rwanda) and may also be due 
in part to high levels of women's activism 
and mobilisation in these countries. That 
said, there is as yet little evidence that 
more women in political power translates 
into better policies for women and girls in 
general. It is as important to ask what is 
being represented and how it is represented, 
as who is representing it. 122 

"Women have got four representatives in 
parliament - feminism none. " 

Gyrithe Lemche, a leader of the suffrage 
campaign in Denmark in 1918 123 

However, the presence of women in power 
may still contribute to a better understanding 
of gender equality and genuine democracy, 
regardless of the policies of the governments 
they are part of. 

Speaking out 

While the link between education and 
holding political office is not direct, the 
link between girls' education and their 
participation in civic life and in advocacy 
for community improvements is stronger. 
In some parts of India, for example, the 
quality of health services improved as girls' 
education levels increased, due to girls 
and women making informed demands 
and putting pressure on local services. 124 
Educated women and girls in Bangladesh 
are three times more likely to participate in 
political meetings than are girls and women 
who are illiterate or less educated. 125 

Tuseme is the Swahili word for let us 
speak out'. The Federation of Women 
Educationalists (FAWE) named its 
programme Tuseme as it aims to foster in 
girls the courage and skills to speak out 
in the face of oppression and a tradition 
of female silence in most of Sub-Saharan 
Africa. 127 

Since 1996, Tuseme has worked 
through a partnership between the 
Department of Fine and Performing Arts 
of the University of Dar es Salaam and 

1 AND 


House, India). 

at work. 

FAWE to encourage girls' participation 
in secondary schools through this 
methodology of empowerment. Using 
drama, the project helps girls and boys 
work together to analyse constraints 
to girls' achievement and participation 
in secondary school. It also helps them 
find ways to discuss these issues with 
their parents and other elders in their 
community and work towards girl-led 

By the end of 2006, more than 
70 schools in Tanzania had adopted 
the programme. These schools saw 
improvements in girls' performance in 
exams, greater teacher commitment, a 
reduction in drop-out due to pregnancy, 
and changes in attitude among teachers 
and parents. The government of Tanzania 
picked up the programme with the aim 
of rolling it out across all secondary 
schools by 2009, and FAWE has tested 
the approach in other countries in the 

The Tuseme programme has helped 
to empower girls to say "No" and free 
them from harmful cultural practices 
that hinder their education and impede 
their economic development. The girls 
no longer have to walk with their heads 
down or dig the ground with their toes 
as they talk to men. With its variety of 
activities, among which is theatre for 
development, Tuseme is an effective tool 
for empowering girls to 'speak out'. 

The impact of education can extend beyond 
the girls who actually get the education. 
What these girls go on to do, what they 
achieve, and the example they set, could 
change attitudes about the roles of women 
and girls in society over time. 128 As girls 
become more educated and enter the 
workforce, families and social structures can 
become reconfigured and gender roles may 
shift. 129 

That said, there is nowhere in the world 
today where women are equal to men. 
Four categories of empowerment have 
been identified by the World Economic 
Forum. These are: equality in economic 
participation and opportunity, educational 
attainment, health and survival, and political 
empowerment. But in not one country do 

Regional Performance on the 
Global Gender Gap Index 201 1 130 





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women's achievements match or exceed 
men's. 131 

This means that whenever and wherever 
girls and women strive for the same 
treatment and access as boys and men, they 
are still held back, paid less, or not heard. 
This is despite the fact that "smaller gender 
gaps are directly correlated with increased 
economic competitiveness." 132 

IT lesson in 


Education = Empowerment? 

So education is not the magic bullet: it 
cannot entirely compensate for or cancel out 
the other forces in society that work against 
a girl's ability to take more control over her 
life. As this chapter has shown, a number of 
other measures are needed to provide the 
enabling environment in which adolescent 
girls can transition to a flourishing adult life, 
with agency and choice. 

That is not to say that education does 
not have a vital role to play. There is a stark 
difference between a girl entering the adult 
world with poor skills and low confidence (or 
even worse, with a host of bad experiences 
already behind her), and entering it equipped 
to deal with these inequalities and injustices. 
The education with which a girl leaves school 
is the foundation she stands on for the rest 
of her life. 

There is an important distinction between 
the actual skills that adolescent girls leave 
school with, and the other ways in which 
their education can open up choices. 
Literacy is crucial for all areas in which 
girls need to be able to make choices. 
Other skills, such as confidence with new 
technologies, are also important building 
blocks for empowerment in adulthood in 
the world today. 

Beyond imparting skills, education can 
make an even more crucial contribution. 
The transformative content of education 
is paramount. Without it, any other 
skills a girl gains may simply help her 
to fit successfully into existing, unequal 
structures. For too long, success in girls' 
education, and even the value of educated 
girls, has been measured in terms of 
gains for societies and families, such as 
reduced fertility, improved child health 
and increases in GDP. These findings have 
contributed to a number of important 
policy advances in support of girls. 

But governments and policymakers 
must now turn to the challenge of 
monitoring what education delivers for 
girls themselves in the long term. MDG 3 
puts gender equality at the heart of 
international policy. 

It is an ambitious goal that has to be 
tackled at all levels of society and will mean 
far-reaching changes in the world in which 
we live. How can we measure the status 

of girls and women within their families 
and communities to monitor real gender 
equality? How can levels of gender-based 
violence be reduced and the equality of 
decision-making at home and at work be 
increased? How can we make sure that 
women are paid equally and girls equipped 
to play an equal role in society? Education 
of both girls and boys is key. Equality of 
opportunity at school, providing a good 
quality education and making sure that girls 
can benefit from it, is crucial. Education 
alone may not be sufficient to transform 
the society we live in but transformation 
can never be achieved without it. By caring 
about how education can contribute to 
girls' increased agency, educators and 
governments and girls themselves can 
find ways to design an education that 
truly supports girls to live freer and more 
fulfilling lives, and transforms the world 
around them. 

"We can change the world if we get 
together and force the issue to the top of 
the agenda. The true promise of equality for 
women is a promise of a better society." 

Cherie Blair 

"I am the only one in my family who 
attended university. I am a role model 
in my family and my community, and I 
always try to encourage the girls of my 
village to strive for the best, despite the 
poverty that seems to be a barrier to their 
dreams. " 

Firehiwot Yemane, 24, Ethiopia 133 

Getting an 
education in 


into action 

Over the past 20 years, countries have invested 
heavily in increasing girls' access to school, but 
as many as 39 million 11-15 year-old girls are 
still missing out on an education. The reasons 
why are complex and found in the intersecting 
barriers of poverty and discrimination. Further 
analysis and better data is needed, as is a focus 
on quality which goes beyond access. 

As this report has shown, the global 
development goals that shape national 
data collection on education are 
masking large disparities. Enrolment 
data inadequately captures attendance, 
ignoring the experience of girls who can't 
make it to school on a daily basis due to 
cost, distance, domestic chores or lack of 
support. In addition, the simple focus on 
numbers of children in school, and the 
resulting influx of students into inadequate, 
understaffed and under-resourced schools, 
has created a crisis of learning. Children 
are leaving primary school unable to read a 
simple sentence. 

This poor quality education is not 
only hampering girls' chances of moving 
successfully into an empowered adulthood, 
it also threatens to undermine the ability 
of education to deliver the kinds of 

£ development progress the world expects. 

£ The fact that many girls leave school unable 

to read and write a simple sentence also 
makes it harder for poor parents to continue 
making an investment in their education 
when the return seems uncertain. 

However, education is still the best-known 
route towards empowerment and offers 
girls across the globe their best chance 
of breaking the intergenerational cycle of 
poverty. Education has the potential to 
transform society and promote broader 
gender equality goals. 

The post-MDG agenda will seek to build on 
the recent achievements in primary education 
enrolment. The natural focus for the future 
is ensuring universal access to, and gender 
equality in, secondary education. However, it 
is not enough to concentrate only on numbers 
of girls in school; a critical look at the quality 
of what and how they are learning, and if 
it promotes girls' empowerment, should be 
essential components in any future global 
development framework. 

In the following sections we make 
recommendations to the education sector, 
working at international, national and local 
levels, supported by the private sector where 
appropriate, which could both transform the 
experiences of adolescent girls at school and 
the effectiveness of investments in the sector 
as a whole. 


Action plan 

1 Ensure any post-MDG framework, maintain a strong priority on Education, but broaden our ambition to 
include the successful completion of at least nine years of quality education, with an intentional emphasis 
on gender equality. 

2 Commit to undertake a gender review of government Education Sector Plans and support action to 
address the identified gaps. 

3 Expand funding mechanisms to support quality education for girls. 


The global community, including UN 
member states, UN bodies, multilateral and 
donors must: 

Ensure any post-MDG framework maintains 
a strong priority on Education as a goal that 

• takes an equity approach and includes 
gender-equality indicators, both 
quantitative and qualitative; 

• redefines basic education to include post- 

• emphasises quality of learning in addition 
to enrolment and access. 

Rationale: As the world considers a new 
generation of development goals, education 
must remain central to our approach, but we 
must also broaden the scope of our ambition 
to see that more girls not only go to primary 
school, but make the transition to secondary 
school and complete a quality education. 
An equity approach that reaches the most 
marginalised, especially girls, is critical at this 
time if we are to ensure real universal access to 
education. It is the successful completion of at 
least nine years of quality education that is the 
key to unlocking a girl's potential, moving her 
from a life of poverty to one of opportunity. As 
numerous studies have shown, an educated girl 
can help transform the world around her, and 
play a key role in breaking the intergenerational 
cycle of poverty. 


Making the first nine years of education, 

primary and lower secondary, available 

in one single location has the potential 

to reduce costs for both parents and 

the education sector and to increase 


Rwanda Education Sector Plan (2010-15) 
As part of the fast-tracking of the 
Nine-Year Basic Education (9YBE) 
programme, some primary schools 
have been transformed into nine-year 
schools ('groupes scolaires') offering 
the full nine years of basic education 
(six years of primary and three years 
of lower secondary), while others are 
formal lower secondary schools ('ecoles 
secondaires inferieures') integrated 
into 9YBE. The latest Education Sector 
Plan (ESP) specifies that the post-basic 
education (PBE) system should be better 
tailored to meet labour-market needs 
through encouraging greater private 
enterprise involvement in post-basic 
education, including upper secondary 
and teacher education, expansion 
and strengthening of Technical and 
Vocational Education Training (TVET), 
expansion of a sustainable student 
loans system targeting disadvantaged 
students enrolled in priority studies, and 
the introduction of open, distance and 





Ministries of education should: 
Commit to undertake a gender review 
of their government's Education Sector 
Plans in order to ensure that all girls 
successfully complete at least nine years 
of quality education. The review should 
assess plans against girl-friendly criteria 
(see 'girl-friendly school scorecard') 
such as: accessibility, accountability, 
participatory school governance, safety 
and protection measures, gender-sensitive 
curriculum, and well-supported and 
qualified staff. 


Girls' Education Initiative ('Girl-friendly 

Schools'), Egypt 1 

The programme, implemented through 
the National Council for Childhood 
and Motherhood in collaboration with 
seven regional NGOs, has already 
opened 1,063 schools and enrolled 
27,784 students, 75 per cent of whom 
were girls, in 2005. The programme has 
recently expanded and aims to build 
over 1,000 more 'girl-friendly' schools. 
These schools must adhere to a list 
of criteria, both in terms of structure 
(proximity to the community, safe 
playgrounds etc.), teaching practices, 
and involvement of the local community 
through 'Education Committees'. 
The Girls' Education Initiative found 
that involving parents and other 
'natural community leaders' (such as 
religious leaders) in school government 
structures has a strong positive effect 
on girls' educational attainment. An 
evaluation 2 found that education 
committees played a critical role in 
following up on girls who are missing 
school - "often when they enter into 
puberty" - in many cases convincing 
parents that their daughters should keep 
on attending school. 

Girl-Friendly School 0^ 

A. Accessible to all girls, especially the most 

- affordable 

- physically accessible 

- inclusive 

- socially and culturally acceptable 

B. Accountable to all girls, school governance 

- involves girl students, their families and 
their communities in school management 

- governance systems are in place to support 
girls with extended absence or drop-outs 

- school has explicit commitment to 
promoting girls' education in the school 

C. Supports the learning and success 
of all girls 

- provision of school materials 

- ICT and vocational training 

- mentors and peer support 

D. Is a safe place for all girls 

- clear policy to prevent and respond to 
violence against girls perpetrated by staff 
or students, including all forms of sexual 

- appropriate systems of reporting 

- separate toilets for girls 

- a female staff member assigned as 

E. Curriculum and policy is free from 
discrimination and stereotyping 

- school materials promote gender equality 

- comprehensive sexual and reproductive 
health is a core part of the curricula 

- girls and boys have equal access to all 
school provisions and equal support from 

- girls and boys are equally encouraged to 
participate in class 

F. Have motivated staff that support all girls 

- at least 40 per-cent female staff 

- gender-equality training to all teachers 

- teacher:pupil ratio is fixed at 1:40 


1. Ensure the Education Sector Plan is updated 
with specific actions to address the issues 
identified by the gender review. 

Rationale: Reviewing the education sector 
plan will identify clear areas of action to 
support girls' education. Addressing those 
gaps will allow the ministries of education, 
school boards and parents to identify, and 
communities to come together to support, 
the successful completion of a quality 
education for girls. 

2. Identify and scale up best practices that 
allow for the easy transition of girls from 
non-formal to formal education. 

Rationale: In many countries, civil 
society organisations have been leading 
innovative non-formal education 
interventions to support girls who 
have dropped out of the formal school 
system. Governments should engage 
with organisations working in this area to 
identify the most effective practices and 
support the scaling up of those initiatives 
which aim to transition girls back into 
formal schooling where possible. Ensuring 
adolescent girls have opportunities to stay 
involved in learning and education is a 
vital strategy to increase the numbers of 
girls accessing and staying in secondary 

The Diphalana Initiative (Botswana) 
The Initiative aims to reintegrate girls who 
have become pregnant early and dropped 
out of school, back into the formal 
education system. Girls are required to 
come back to school as soon as they give 
birth, though during a period of maternity 
leave their school work is sent to their 
homes and schools. The initiative has 
developed a distance education curriculum 
to suit the needs of girls who cannot 
attend formal education. When a doctor 
certifies that they are fit to come back to 
the school they do so with their babies; 
and if the father of the baby is in school he 
is also required to have time with the baby 
at lunches and break time. At Pekelele 
school they have provided a creche that 
takes children as young as four months. 

3. Increase the number and quality of 
teachers, with a particular focus on female 
teachers. Measures should include: 

• Incentives or additional support to attract 
and retain female teachers, particularly at 
senior levels within schools; 

• Quality training for all teachers and 
school administrators including on 
children's rights, positive discipline 
methods and comprehensive sexual and 
reproductive health education; 

• Raising the social standing of the 
teaching profession within communities; 

• Promote female teacher career 

• Adequate pay and conditions for teachers, 
including housing. 

Rationale: staffing school with well-trained 
female teachers is a direct and effective way 
of increasing girls' attendance, retention, 
learning and safety. Female teachers increase 
the confidence of parents in sending their 
daughters to school, especially at the 
stage of adolescence. Evidence shows that 
employing female teachers leads to increased 
enrolment of girls and that female teachers 
provide girls with much-needed role models, 
that can help promote overall goals of 
gender equality. (See Promising practice: 
Secondary School Assistance Programme in 
Bangladesh on page 126.) 

in Togo. 


4. To support the Ministry of Education, 
national governments should: 

Strengthen national gender equality 
institutions' capacity to support, monitor and 
report on their dedicated policy framework, 
legislation and spending on girls' rights. 

Rationale: by supporting gender equality 
offices, focal points and officers, 
governments can strengthen both the 
effectiveness of their national level policies 
on girls' education and also increase political 
commitment to gender equality at the 
highest levels. 

Promoting gender equality and advancing 
girls' education go hand in hand. Political 
commitments to redress entrenched 
discrimination which leaves half the 
population disenfranchised have to be 
backed up with effective policy and 
legislative measures. These include 
establishing national level gender equality 
offices and ministerial level focal points. 

South Africa Gender Equality Machinery 3 
South Africa has a strong policy 
framework for gender equality in 
education, with policies founded on 
commitments to equity and human rights 
in education. Though progress on girls' 
education has been mixed, there is little 
doubt that the Gender Equality Machinery 
and Gender Equality Policies are one of 
the most comprehensive in the region. A 
Gender Equity Directorate (GED) was set 
up in 2000 in the national Department of 
Education. The gender focal persons from 
the nine provincial education departments 
and the national GED meet quarterly as 
an inter-provincial group to discuss the 
work of all units. The national GED has 
a responsibility to monitor the system 
and its performance while coordinating 
activities and policy development across 
the system. The process of creating an 
effective gender machinery has resulted 
in the setting up of a new Ministry for 
Women, Children and Persons with 
Disabilities after the 2009 elections. 


1. To improve funding mechanisms to 
support quality education for girls. 

National governments should: 

• Allocate at least 11.4 per cent* of the 
National Budget to education, with an 
emphasis on adequate funding for lower 
secondary education; 

• Protect national education budgets from 
austerity measures, recognising that 
education underpins economic growth; 

• Review current budget allocation to fill 
funding gaps identified by the gender 
review of Education Sector Plans; 

• Fund nine years of compulsory free 
education for all and progressively 
eliminate other cost barriers to girls; 

• Better manage resources allocated to 
education and ensure transparency, 
accountability and zero tolerance of 

• Strengthen the tax base at all levels to 
fund increases in the education budget. 

Rationale: Governments which wish to emerge 
from the current economic crisis with a strong 
and productive workforce cannot afford to cut 
spending on education. It is through increased 
and targeted spending that governments can 
ensure that girls and boys who are entering 
the classroom today will transition into decent 
work which will boost economic growth and 
reduce national debt over the long term. This 
is particularly critical for girls, who will pass on 
the benefits of their education to their future 
children and their communities. 

* This is the average national budget expenditure of low-income countries on education. 


Female Secondary School Assistance 

Programme in Bangladesh 4 

A review of the education sector plan in 

Bangladesh, coupled with large donor 

support, led to the establishment of a 

successful national stipend programme, 

which dramatically increased girls' school 


In 1993 the government-supported 
Bangladesh Female Secondary School 
Assistance Programme (FSSAP) was 
launched, aiming to improve access 
and enrolment to secondary school for 
girls by providing tuition stipends. It 
also tackled issues of quality education 
through teacher training, provision of 
performance incentives to schools and 
students, and water and sanitation 
facilities. The project covered 121 of 
Bangladesh's 507 sub-districts. The result 
was that girls' enrolment in secondary 
schools in Bangladesh jumped to 3.9 
million in 2005, from 1.1 million in 1991, 
including an increasing number of girls 
from disadvantaged or remote areas. 
In addition, the initiative stipulated a 
gradual introduction of female teachers 
at secondary education level, with the 
aim of recruiting 30 per cent more female 
teachers nationally. 5 This initiative has 
enabled Bangladesh to achieve one of its 
Millennium Development Goals ahead of 
time - gender parity in education. 

Costa Rica 6 

Increased funding leads to increased 
attendance and completion rates of 
school. For girls, who are the least likely 
to feel the effects of national-level and 
donor-led expenditure on education, an 
overall increase in spending commitments 
means a greater chance of reaching those 
who need education the most. 

Costa Rica's free and compulsory 
education for both girls and boys at 
primary level has been guaranteed by 
the Constitution for decades, and this 
has also been extended to secondary 
education, which is now free and 
compulsory. Since the 1970s the 
Government has invested nearly 30 per 
cent of the national budget on primary 
and secondary education. The country 
boasts a 93 per cent literacy rate for those 
aged 10 years or over: the most literate 
population in Central America. 

2. Donor governments should: 

• Increase aid to lower secondary 
education* and ensure that all aid to 
education puts emphasis on improving 
the possibilities for girls to finish lower 
secondary school; 

• Increase the share of predictable aid 
going to pre-primary, primary and lower 
secondary education to match partner 
countries' investment, which stands at an 
average of 11.4 per cent of their national 

• Channel more funding through the Global 
Partnership for Education (GPE) as a way 
of aligning aid efforts, and work to make 
sure the GPE strengthens their monitoring 
of gender equality standards and civil 
society participation; 

• Adopt innovative financing mechanisms 7 
to increase revenue to support girls' 

• Ensure country ownership by supporting 
national education plans and promoting 
an enabling environment for civil society 
participation, including organisations that 
promote girls' and women's rights, in line 
with the Paris Principles. 8 

Walking to 
school in 

' The OECD/DAC code for secondary education should be split into lower secondary and upper secondary education to be able to monitor this. 


Rationale: Donors can play an important 
part in ensuring girls enjoy a good quality 
education through funding mechanisms and 
capacity building (including direct support 
for civil society organisations), and by raising 
the profile of girls' education, especially 
where there is lack of political will at the 
national level. 


Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) 

in Tanzania 9 

Gender-responsive budgeting is an 
excellent tool for engaging non-traditional 
actors (especially Ministries of Finance and 
central banks), influencing fiscal policies, 
promoting accountability and supporting 
civil society women's organisations. 
Gender budgeting allows women's 
organisations to shift the question from 
"Why is my slice of the pie so small?" to 
"Why is this whole pie so small?" This 
process allows women's organisations, 
together with national level ministries 
and offices, to influence macro-economic 
processes that have a real impact on where 
and how money is allocated, and whether 
it reaches those who are usually left off 
the policy agenda - girls. 

The Gender Budgeting Initiative in 
Tanzania began in 1997 as an NGO 
lobbying initiative developed as part of 
TGNP's Feminist Activism Coalition (Fern 
Act) vision of influencing policymakers, 
economists, statisticians and researchers 
to adopt more progressive gender 
approaches. A number of campaigns were 
established with the aim of 'popularising' 
gender budgeting called 'Return 
Resources to the People', linking together 
issues of HIV/AIDS, water, education and 
maternal mortality. Open street meetings 
were held in various towns and cities 
where people were invited to hear in 
simple terms about the gender-responsive 
budgeting work being undertaken and 
take action in support of this process. A 
UN level assessment 10 found that TGNP 
succeeded on a number of fronts. In the 
water sector, the allocation increased 
from three to six per cent of the national 
budget - households with low incomes 
now have access, at no cost, to 80 
buckets of water thus reducing the time 

burden on girls. The allocation to the 
health sector increased to 15 per cent of 
the national budget. TGNP engaged with 
the Ministry of Planning to produce a 
more gender-sensitive social accounting 
matrix which led the government to 
include a time-use analysis in domestic 
surveys which recognises the cost of 
unpaid (domestic and care) labour. 

3. The private sector and business 
community should: 

• Fund and increase in-kind support to 
programmes which aim to make skills 
training more relevant to adolescent girls, 
inside and outside formal education, and 
empowers them to build the competence 
and skills needed to move into adult life; 

• Harness business expertise to develop 
low-cost and accessible technology which 
meets the needs of girls and improves 
learning opportunities in low-resource 

• Engage in multi-sectoral policy dialogues 
to jointly support the importance of girls 
completing at least nine years of quality 

• Increase philanthropic support which 
aligns with national education plans, in 
coordination with governments, donors 
and civil society, with a focus on ensuring 
girls achieve at least nine years of quality 


training in 


Rationale: The private sector and business 
community have an important role to play 
in development, one that is increasingly 
recognised by multilateral agencies, donors, 
governments and civil society. Investment in 
quality education is of strategic importance 
to the private sector, with a number of 
private sector actors increasingly paying 
attention to quality and improved learning 

When compared to other sectors such as 
healthcare, however, the private sector, the 
business community and philanthropists 
have yet to play a pronounced catalytic 
role in education. A step change in private- 
sector funding and advocacy will be crucial 
to achieve improved outcomes in quality 
education for girls and boys. 

Beyond funding and advocacy, the private 
sector and business community are also 
critical to the development of technological 
solutions which could improve learning 
environments, as well as in contributing 
technical expertise for the improvement 
of formal and non-formal education. 
These contributions ensure that education 
is relevant and provides girls with the 
necessary skills to enter the labour market 
and into decent work. Information and 
communication technologies (ICTs), for 
example, can transform not only teaching 
methods, by empowering teachers, but also 
energise the wider learning process through 

SMS for Literacy in Pakistan* 
In 2009 Mobilink, Pakistan's biggest 
mobile service provider, partnered with 
UNESCO to deliver a pilot basic education 
project in Southern Punjab province. 
The project was designed to improve 
female adolescent literacy rates, increase 
literacy retention amongst adolescent 
girls and motivate them. Each of the 
girls was given a low-cost mobile phone 
with pre-paid connection, and trained 
teachers would send up to six messages 
per day on a variety of topics to test their 
literacy abilities. The girls were required 
to practise copying messages and practise 

reading them out loud. The girls would 
then respond to the teachers via SMS, 
and the teachers would conduct monthly 
assessments of the girls' learning gains. 
An evaluation of the project found that it 
had contributed greatly both to increasing 
literacy levels and technological fluency. 
A formal literacy exam showed an 80 per- 
cent improvement with more than 60 per 
cent of girls scoring an 'A', compared with 
only 28 per cent of girls who scored the 
grade before the project began. 


Drawing on the evidence in this report, 
and the clear steps outlined in this chapter, 
decision-makers and duty bearers at all levels 
can take action today to ensure girls enjoy 
at least nine years of quality education. The 
returns on investing in girls' education have 
already been well documented. Yet progress 
on ensuring girls access their educational 
rights is slow. This chapter has provided a 
blueprint for delivering better outcomes 
for girls and for ensuring the education 
sector doesn't suffer cutbacks due to the 
global financial downturn. Now is the time 
for increased focus and investment in girls' 
education and girls' empowerment - as 
a key strategy for poverty alleviation and 
delivering economic benefits. 

* For a more detailed account of this project, see page Section 3, page 162 of this report. 


Girls' education in the arena of international policy 

International Human Rights Instruments 

International Intergovernmental Declarations 
and Programmes of Action 

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989) 

Article 28: affirms the right of the child to education 
and, when read together with Article 2, forcefully 
addresses discrimination in children's access to education. 

Article 28 defines that all state parties are obligated to 
establish educational systems and ensure access to them. 
In the context of education it is important to remember 
and understand that it is children's right to enjoy their 
human rights both in school and outside. Education must 
also be provided in a way that respects the strict limits on 
discipline reflected in Article 28 (2), and promotes non- 
violence in school. 

Article 29 (1): "...underlines the individual and 
subjective right to a specific quality of education". 
Compliance with the values recognised in Article 29 (1) 
requires that schools be child-friendly in the fullest sense 
of the term, and that they be consistent in all respects 
with the dignity of the child. 

Also 29 (1d) describes gender equality by referring to 
"the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free 
society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, 
equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, 
ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of 
indigenous origin". 

Article 2: "1. States Parties shall respect and ensure 
the rights set forth in the present Convention to each 
child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of 
any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's 
or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, 
political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, 
property, disability, birth or other status." 

Additional articles relevant to education are 
those dealing with child labour (Article 32), criminal 
responsibility (Article 40) and harmful traditional 
practices (Article 24). 

In addition, The Committee on the Rights of the Child's 
General comment No. 1 (2001) on The aims of education 
CRC/GC/2001/1 paragraph 10 states that: 
"gender discrimination can be reinforced by practices 
such as a curriculum which is inconsistent with the 
principles of gender equality, by arrangements which 
limit the benefits girls can obtain from the educational 
opportunities offered, and by unsafe or unfriendly 
environments which discourage girls' participation. 
[...] All such discriminatory practices are in direct 
contradiction with the requirements in Article 29 (1) (a)." 

Also important to note, The Committee on the Rights 
of the Child's General comment No 13 (2011) on The 
right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 
CRC/C/GC/13 which addresses the issue of violence in 
schools and its gender component. 

Beijing Declaration 

Education and Training of Women: 

Strategic objective B1 : 

Ensure equal access to education 

Strategic objective B2: 

Eradicate illiteracy among women 

Strategic objective B3: 

Improve women's access to vocational training, science 
and technology, and continuing education 

Strategic objective B4: 

Develop non-discriminatory education and training 
Strategic objective B5: 

Allocate sufficient resources for and monitor the 
implementation of educational reforms 

Strategic objective B6: 

Promote lifelong education and training for girls and 


Girls' education in the arena of international policy 

International Human Rights Instruments 

International Intergovernmental Declarations 
and Programmes of Action 

Convention on the Elimination of All forms of 
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979) 

Article 10 obliges states to "take all appropriate 
measures to eliminate discrimination against women in 
order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field 
of education, and in particular, on the basis of equality of 
men and women..." 

Also important to note, CEDAW General Recommendation 
19, A/47/38 on violence against women. 

Dakar Education for All (EFA) Platform for 
Action (2000) 

Six internationally agreed education goals aim to meet 
the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 

Goal 1 

Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood 
care and education, especially for the most vulnerable 
and disadvantaged children. 

Goal 2 

Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, 
children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to 
ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and 
compulsory primary education of good quality. 

Goal 3 

Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and 
adults are met through equitable access to appropriate 
learning and life-skills programmes. 

Goal 4 

Achieving a 50 per-cent improvement in levels of adult 
literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable 
access to basic and continuing education for all adults. 

Goal 5 

Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary 
education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in 
education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and 
equal access to and achievement in basic education of 
good quality. 

Goal 6 

Improving all aspects of the quality of education 
and ensuring excellence of all so that recognised and 
measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, 
especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills. 


Girls' education in the arena of international policy 

International Human Rights Instruments 

Convention on the Rights of Persons with 
Disabilities (CRPD) 

Article 24 

1. States Parties recognise the right of persons with 
disabilities to education... 

2. In realising this right, States Parties shall ensure that: 

(a) Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the 
general education system on the basis of disability, and 
that children with disabilities are not excluded from free 
and compulsory primary education, or from secondary 
education, on the basis of disability; 

(b) Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality 
and free primary education and secondary education 
on an equal basis with others in the communities in 
which they live; 

(c) Reasonable accommodation of the individual's 
requirements is provided; 

(d) Persons with disabilities receive the support required, 
within the general education system, to facilitate their 
effective education; 

(e) Effective individualised support measures are provided 
in environments that maximise academic and social 
development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion. 

3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to 
learn life and social development skills to facilitate their 
full and equal participation in education and as members 
of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take 
appropriate measures, including: 

(a) Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, 
augmentative and alternative modes, means and 
formats of communication and orientation and mobility 
skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring; 

(b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the 
promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf 

(c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular 
children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in 
the most appropriate languages and modes and means 
of communication for the individual, and in environments 
which maximise academic and social development. 

4. In order to help ensure the realisation of this right, 
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ 
teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are 
qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train 
professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. 
Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and 
the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative 
modes, means and formats of communication, educational 
techniques and materials to support persons with 

5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities 
are able to access general tertiary education, vocational 
training, adult education and lifelong learning without 
discrimination and on an eaual basis with others. To 

this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable 
accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities. 

Also of importance - Article 5 on equality under the law 
and Article 7 on rights of expression. 

International Intergovernmental Declarations 
and Programmes of Action 

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2000) 

Goal 2 

Achieve universal primary education 
Target 2. A: 

Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls 
alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary 

Goal 3 

Promote gender equality and empower women 
Target 3. A: 

Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary 
education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of 
education no later than 2015 


Girls' education in the arena of international policy 

International Human Rights Instruments 

International Covenant on Economic, Social and 
Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 1976 

Article 13 

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise 
the right of everyone to education. They agree that 
education shall be directed to the full development of the 
human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall 
strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental 
freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable 
all persons to participate effectively in a free society, 
promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among 
all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, 

and further the activities of the United Nations for the 
maintenance of peace. 

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise 
that, with a view to achieving the full realisation of this 

(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available 
free to all; 

(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including 
technical and vocational secondary education, shall 
be made generally available and accessible to all by 
every appropriate means, and in particular by the 
progressive introduction of free education; 

(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible 
to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate 
means, and in particular by the progressive 
introduction of free education; 

(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or 
intensified as far as possible for those persons who 
have not received or completed the whole period of 
their primary education; 

(e) The development of a system of schools at all levels 
shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship 
system shall be established, and the material 
conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously 

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake 
to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when 
applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children 
schools, other than those established by the public 
authorities, which conform to such minimum educational 
standards as may be laid down or approved by the State 
and to ensure the religious and moral education of their 
children in conformity with their own convictions. 

4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to 
interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to 
establish and direct educational institutions, subject 
always to the observance of the principles set forth in 
paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the 
education given in such institutions shall conform to such 
minimum standards as may be laid down by the State. 

Also, important to note - ICESCR Plan of Action for 
Primary Education under Article 14 (E/C.12/1999/4) and 
ICESCR General Comment No. 13 (1999) on the Right to 
Education (Art.13). 

International Intergovernmental Declarations 
and Programmes of Action 

Global Partnership for Education 

Established in 2002, the Global Partnership for 
Education is comprised of 46 developing countries, and 
over 30 bilateral, regional, and international agencies, 
development banks, the private sector, teachers, and 
local and global civil society groups. 

The Global Partnership for Education's strategy will 
achieve three objectives: 

1 . Increase support for fragile states 

Why is it essential? Over 40 per cent of the 67 million 
out-of-school children currently live in conflict-affected or 
fragile states and are at higher risk of being marginalised. 

2. Improve learning outcomes and quality education 

Why is it essential? 200 million children are currently in 
school but are learning very little. 

3. Support girls' education 

Why is it essential? Millions of girls are still out of school 
and their completion rates and learning levels remain low; 
their participation in upper secondary school, critical to 
reducing birth rates and improving cnild and maternal 
mortality, is low. 

1. Increase gender parity and enrolment overall; 

2. Provide strong incentives, technical and financial 
support to developing country partners, to include 
gender strategies in their education plans; 

3. Support the enrolment of out-of-school girls into 
primary school; 

4. Ensure that girls make the crucial transition to and 
through secondary school. 



Girls' education in the arena of international policy 

International Human Rights Instruments 

Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) 
Article 26 

1 Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be 
free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. 
Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technicafand 
professional education shall be made generally available 
and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on 
the basis of merit. 

2 Education shall be directed to the full development 
of the human personality and to the strengthening of 
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It 
shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship 
among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall 
further the activities of the United Nations for the 
maintenance of peace. 

3 Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of 
education that shall be given to their children. 

International Convention on the Protection of 
the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members 
of Their Families (CMW) (1990) 

Article 30 

Each child of a migrant worker shall have the basic 
right of access to education on the basis of equality of 
treatment with nationals of the State concerned. Access 
to public pre-school educational institutions or schools 
shall not be refused or limited by reason of the irregular 
situation with respect to stay or employment of either 
parent or by reason of the irregularity of the child's stay 
in the State of employment. 

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

Article 14 

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and 
control their educational systems and institutions 
providing education in their own languages, in a manner 
appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and 

2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the 
right to all levels and forms of education of the State 
without discrimination. 

3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, 
take effective measures, in order for indigenous 
individuals, particularly children, including those living 
outside their communities, to have access, when possible, 
to an education in their own culture and provided in their 
own language. 

International Intergovernmental Declarations 
and Programmes of Action 

United Nations Girls' Education Initiative's Dakar 
Declaration (2010) 

Despite the progress that has been made, poor quality 
of education, extreme poverty, structural inequality 
and violence against girls continue to jeopardise the 
achievement of the education- and gender-related 
Education for All and Millennium Development Goals 
by 2015. Powerless and poor girls make up the most 
disadvantaged group in education. Achieving equity 
in education will entail putting in place a rights-based 
empowerment framework that will target the most 
vulnerable and transform power hierarchies in learning 
spaces, communities and policy structures in order to give 
poor and vulnerable girls a voice and ensure that their 
right to quality education is sustained. 

Gender equity is at the centre of transformative, quality 
education. Attention to the physical, social and academic 
aspects of multiple learning environments is necessary to 
enhance opportunities, especially for adolescent girls, and 
to move beyond basic education. Recognition of teachers 
as professionals, supported by gender-responsive 
curricula, is likewise key to ensuring gender equality. 

Because poverty is both structural and multidimensional 
and has differential impacts on girls and women, 
interventions for girls' education must cover multiple 
sectors. Education policies, strategies, plans and budgets 
must all be gender-responsive. 

Gender-based violence remains an obstacle to the full 
achievement of girls' rights to education. We call for 
effective strategies and for enforcement of legislation and 
policies to ensure safe and secure learning environments 
for girls. Protective and innovative learning opportunities 
must also be created for children and young women 
affected by HIV and AIDS and for those in armed conflict 
and emergency situations. 

We envision a world in which a special initiative for girls' 
education is no longer needed - a world in which all girls 
and boys are empowered through quality education to 
realise their full potential and contribute to transforming 
their societies, so that gender equality becomes a reality. 


Section 2 

Because We are Girls 

'Real Choices, Real Lives' 
cohort study update 


Everything will be different 
in her life: can the changing 
attitudes of a generation of 
mothers help to transform 
girls' lives? 

"This new generation has a chance to 
access education. I always advise them to 
study hard." 

Hean, Sipha's mother, Cambodia 

This year, the girls taking part in Plan's 
cohort study will reach the age of six - quite 
a milestone in their lives. Most of them are 
now attending school, so this is the year when 
influences outside the home start to have a 
bigger impact on their lives. They will meet 
a wider range of people and although their 
mothers will remain the key influences and role 
models, teachers, friends and older children will 
also become increasingly important to them. 

At home, it is the women of the family 
with whom the girls spend their time; they 
are already mimicking female household 
work while they play and some, even at six, 
are being set household tasks clearly defined 
by gender. Chhea from Cambodia wants 
to be a teacher, but also told us, "/ like to 
wash dishes as well and help my mother to 
collect firewood" 

This year we will consider how the life 
histories, attitudes and actions of the girls' 
mothers have influenced the girls' upbringing 
and daily lives so far, and how their mothers' 
past experiences will shape their daughters' 

We have conducted in-depth interviews 
with the girls' mothers, taking them on the 
journey from their own childhood, through 
the life changes and critical decisions made 
during adolescence, to their lives today as 
mothers. Last year we spoke with almost 
100 of the girls' fathers. The differences 

between these two sets of interviews are 
illuminating, particularly in terms of the 
men's experiences of adolescence. This is 
when life's opportunities seem to open up 
for boys and where they close down for girls. 

We will focus on four critical areas in this 

• the early life of the girls' mothers; 

• the impact of adolescence on their hopes 
and dreams; 

• the attitudes to gender roles in their 
homes now; 

• their ambitions for their own daughters. 
We will also look at the impact of wider 
societal change in their lifetime. 



Now in its sixth year, the 'Real Choices, Real Lives' study follows 142 girls living in nine countries around 
the world - Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Philippines, Togo, Uganda 
and Vietnam. The study aims to achieve a better understanding of young girls' lives through in-depth 
interviews and focus-group discussions with their relatives and others who live around them. 

The majority of the girls taking part in the study are now either attending a pre-school facility or are 
at primary school. A small number of girls are still not enrolled in school, their parents citing distance to 
school and the girls' poor health as reasons for this. 

Generally, parents continue to express pride in their girls' progress in school. At the same time, they 
are becoming increasingly vocal about the quality of education their daughters receive. Several parents 
repeatedly asserted that they would send their daughters to better schools if they could afford to do so or 
if it were safe for the girls to travel on their own to a better school further from home. 

Many of the girls have had minor illnesses in the past year, requiring no more than a visit to a local 
health centre or pharmacy for treatment. As we have reported in previous years, the girls in three 
countries - Benin, Togo and Uganda - continue to suffer regularly from malaria. In these countries, 
parents talk about the ongoing expense of taking their daughters to health centres and hospitals for 
medical treatment as a major constraint on their family finances. 

Many of the families taking part in the study have reported that the cost of living has risen over the 
past year, and many have had to cover additional medical costs. For most, the greater part of their income 
is spent on food. But for many, raising a young family also means having to cover some of the costs of 
sending their children to school. 

Charnel and 
her parents. 

The mothers' determination to send their 
daughters to school is obvious, as is their 
acknowledgement that girls and women still 
face many challenges. Josephine, Channel's 
mother in Benin, talks about how "poverty 
and misery" have been the most influential 
experiences of her own life so far. She had 
no formal education herself, but she is 
determined that all five of her children do 
well. She explains how different life could 
be for her six year-old daughter, Charnel: "I 
hope she will make progress until she has her 
degree and a job. Everything will be different 
in her life." 

1 Early girlhood 

The earliest memories for most of the 
women had to do with the dynamics 
between their mothers and fathers. The 
majority said that their parents' relationships 
were respectful and loving, unlike the 
memories of domestic violence recalled by 
their husbands when we interviewed them 
last year. However, some did talk of less 
harmonious homes. Maria's mother, Edna, 
in Brazil, recalls: "It was a relationship where 
my father gave the orders and my mother 
only obeyed. Sometimes they fought. There 

Maria and her mother. 

was something that made things worse: my 
father used to drink a lot, and this caused 
much suffering to our family." 

Thi Thuy Van's mother, Thuy, in Vietnam, 
says: "My father didn't pay much attention 
to my mother. He cared little for my mother. 
He worked and would hang out for fun. 
He seemed not to care about his family. 
However, he never hit my mother." 

The women recalled a mixed picture 
regarding how decisions were made in their 
childhood homes. In most families, men made 
the main decisions. In some households, 
decision-making was joint and mutually 
agreed. Only in a few did women have control 
of family finances and decisions, and these 
were mainly in female-headed households. 
Rudilania's mother, Elena, from the Dominican 
Republic explains what it was like growing up 
with her grandparents: "My grandmother has 
always taken the decisions. She has been the 
man and the woman of the house." 

Generally, the girls' mothers report that the 
main decision-makers are women only where 
the households are headed by women. 

The majority of the women told of an 
early childhood where girls' and boys' 
domestic roles were clearly defined. As girls, 
they noticed early on that they had less time 
to play and less time for school work than 
boys did. The strictest gender codes appear 
to be in Togo. Brenam's mother, Bella, says: 
"My father forbade boys household tasks. 
Women worked in the kitchen. Everybody 
worked on the farm. The boys were 

Rudilania and 
i her brothers. 


academically privileged." Having clearly 
defined roles was perpetuated both by men 
and women. Maria's mother, Edna, in Brazil 
explains: "My mother still does everything in 
the house, but she believes things have been 
like this since the beginning of the time." 

A small number of the women grew up in 
households where domestic arrangements 
were different. Delphine, Huguette's mother in 
Benin, explains: "My elder sister and I would 
both do some domestic chores. But when we 
had homework from school, my mother would 
cook and our little uncle also used to help us 
in our domestic tasks. I used to sweep and to 
wash clothes. I was not entrusted any great 
responsibility. So, I had enough time to play, to 
rest and to do my homework." 

In the main, strict divisions of labour 
continue to have an impact on the women's 
lives today, while men are either unprepared 
or unwilling to support their families with 
household work. 


Complex social networks continue not only 
to provide material support for many of 
the families taking part in the study, but 
also include people who act as influential 
role models and mentors for girls. These 
networks are made up of people living in 
the families' communities, from extended 
family members and neighbours, to teachers 
and local politicians. In Uganda, Anna 
Maria's mother Alisat explains how her 
aunt supported her education and how, as 
a girl, she admired the way her aunt took 
care of her own family: "My role model 
was my uncle's wife, who used to care for 
her children, even though her husband 
did not take care [of them]. She would go 
to relatives to make sure that her children 

studied until they gained formal education." 

As they grew up, most of the mothers we 
interviewed looked up to women outside of 
their families - teachers, nurses, midwives 
and businesswomen. Often these were the 
female leaders in their communities, and 
for those with access to television and the 
internet, they might be global personalities 
such as stars of the music and film world. 
Emily, Mikaela's mother in the Philippines, 
tells of her admiration for her childhood 
bible-school teacher, an influence so strong 
that Emily is now a university-educated 
pastor. In Brazil, Kevyllen's mother Keulle 
says: "My role model was my mother... I 
wanted to be a lawyer because I have an 
aunt who works in this area." 


Marie is six year-old Consolata's mother 
in Benin. Marie's story shows how the 
influence of a female role model in a 
non-conventional career provided her 
with the drive to achieve a secondary 
education. She was educated up to the 
third year of secondary school, the only 
mother in the Benin cohort to achieve 
this level of education. Marie's father was 
a photographer but her role model was 
actually a woman photographer. Her dream, 
she says, "was to become a journalist". 

However, her formal education came 
to an end when she and her parents 
disagreed about where she could 
continue. Marie wanted to go to school 

in Cotonou, the capital of Benin; her 
parents wanted her to stay in the town 
nearest to the family home. Now, Marie 
is a photographer herself. She reflects on 
what has influenced her life so far and 
how dropping out of school impacted 
on her life. Her biggest hope for her 
daughter, Consolata, is that "she will 
be better educated than me". Although 
she acknowledges that society has 
strict boundaries around gender roles 
and responsibilities, she is clear that in 
her family equal investments are being 
made in the education of girls and boys. 
Marie hopes that her children will see the 
investment that their parents are making 
in their education. 

Most of the girls' mothers tell of lives lived 
through interrupted ambitions and failed 
dreams. Many reported entering domestic 
service at adolescence. They recalled that 
this not only had a negative impact on their 
formal education, but also that many of 
them were abused and ill-treated, sometimes 
by their own relatives. 

2 Adolescence 

"They made the mistake of taking me to 
another family. " 

Austria, Estefani's grandmother 
from the Dominican Republic 

Adolescence brings a particular set of 
challenges for girls. Many of the women 
told of becoming increasingly responsible for 
unpaid household work, including taking main 
responsibility for younger siblings, cousins, 
nieces and nephews while their own mothers 
worked, either in or outside the home. 

The teenage girls' domestic responsibilities, 
over time, took precedence over their 
schooling, play and leisure. A smaller number 
stopped going to school altogether, to take 
on domestic tasks, to look after their own 
siblings, or to go into domestic service. 
In the Dominican Republic, Rudilania's 
mother, Elena, talks about her early life: 
"When I was 10 or 11, my grandmother sent 
me to the house of one of her daughters. My 
aunt was the one who knew everything in 
the house, but she didn't stay at home. So I 
was the person who was responsible. 


Judith and 
her family. 

I had to mop, to cook, to wash clothes, to do 
everything in the house." 

Justine is Judith's mother in Benin. She 
dreamed of being a nurse and looked up 
to the female community nurse. However, 
she left school early to look after her 
younger brother. When Justine became an 
adolescent, things changed. "I stayed with 
my maternal aunt and kept her child for her. 
[Then] I went to stay with a lady in Cotonou 
whom I helped sell maize and beans. I didn't 
like carrying loads on my head to go round 
and sell because it was very tiring." 

Abigael's mother Elise, in Benin, tells of her 
childhood: "I stayed with my maternal aunt 
at Avegamey, not far from my village, where 
I helped her look after her children. She was 
not good to me. I used to help some women 
making groundnut cakes in order to get 
some money to buy underwear. I didn't have 
clothes. I could hardly eat and I had to finish 
everything before getting a little food." 

Also in Benin, Charnel's mother Josephine 
was never sent to school. She was her 
parents' youngest child. She explains what 
her days were like: "I alone did the domestic 
tasks. I was in charge of cooking the food 
and cleaning the house. I used to look after 
my brothers and myself. Sometimes, I found 
it very hard, but I was obliged to do it." She 
continues: "I dreamed of becoming rich. I 
went to Nigeria to work for a household and 
my wage was $22 per month. I was 15 when 
I went. I was in charge of cleaning the house 
of a childless couple. I didn't experience any 
difficulty because I was just in charge of the 
above duty in their house. It was my boss 
herself who was in charge of cooking." 

Here is the story of Austria, Estefani's 
grandmother from the Dominican 
Republic. She was never sent to school 
and had domestic responsibilities from 
almost the same age her granddaughter 
is now. 

"I became a little woman when I was 
seven, because I helped my mother 
to raise all of the kids after her older 
children started leaving their children 
here... I was helping my mother, because 
I was there looking after the kids, because 
I was stuck at home. People before didn't 
care like we do now. Now we make sure 
that the children go to school. 

"I went to my grandmother's house for 
a while because my dad took me there. 
There I had to do everything: clean, wash 
dishes, pluck chickens... because I was 
young." This was a sad time for her: "I 
used to dream that they would come and 
get me, always making excuses for why 
they couldn't come and take me home. I 
felt bad. I was often ill. I had a lot of colds 
and fevers." 

But, she adds: "Not everyone gets the 
opportunity - they chose me. There are 
many girls who fall by the wayside, as 
there are parents who in order to give a 
good life to one child, give a worse life 
to another. They made the mistake of 
taking me to another family. [My parents] 
couldn't give me what I wanted, but they 
made a major mistake. I am not going to 
do this with my children." 


water, 2011 

There are complex links between poverty, 
girls' puberty and sexuality, and their 
education, as is evidenced by these 
women's experiences. Many parents 
who willingly send a daughter to school, 
remove her at puberty for fear of unwanted 
pregnancy or to marry her off early. 
Some 82 million girls who are now aged 
between 10 and 17 will be married before 
their eighteenth birthday. 1 This situation is 
reflected in the experiences of the mothers 
taking part in the study - regardless of 
level of education reached, the majority 
of the women stopped school when they 
either married or got pregnant. For those 
girls who become pregnant, the school 
environment becomes an unforgiving place, 
and pregnancy effectively ends their school 
career. At the same time, many parents 
taking part in the study still do not see an 
economic rationale for investing in their 
daughters' education, particularly beyond 
the primary years. 

Delphine, Huguette's mother in Benin, 
confirms: "I left school when I was 13 
years old because I was expelled for non- 
payment of school fees. It was in 1999." 
Her aunt, who lived in France, had been 
supporting the family to pay school fees 
up until that point. 
Tuong Vi's mother, Duong, in Vietnam, 

says: "I finished at the ninth grade at the 
age of 17 or 18 because my mother had 
such a hard time to earn money for the 

Justine is Judith's mother in Benin. 
She finished school at primary 2 and was 
tasked with the family's domestic work. "I 
used to do the domestic tasks alone. My 
mother was in charge of the food cooking 
and I would clean the house. I would also 
look after my younger brother." 

In El Salvador, Hilda's mother Katerin 
went to secondary school up to Grade 7, 
but left when her boyfriend suggested 
it: "He was afraid I would betray him." 
They started living together when she 
was 15 years old and she soon had her 
first child, Hilda. By the age of 17 she had 
had her second daughter. Katerin has not 
considered returning to school. 

The majority of the women who reported 
leaving school prematurely recall that the 
interruption to their formal education was the 
most important incident they experienced as 
girls. Through the women's life stories, we see 
how adolescence was such a critical time for 
them. This was when they were given more 
household responsibilities, which ultimately 
affected their educational prospects. Several 
of them, for example, were married at around 
the age of 14, and this also marked the point at 
which their formal education stopped. 


Cintia and 
her family. 

Silvana, Cintia's mother in Brazil, recalls how 
she met her husband, and the circumstances of 
their wedding. "I met him at my grandmother's 
house, where I was raised. He was a good 
friend of my uncle. I was still an adolescent and 
didn't know anything - I was 14. I think it was 
something crazy, to get married." 

She continues: "He decided to marry me 
because of the suffering he saw in me. He 
was very sorry for me, for my childhood. He 
saw how much I suffered, working to survive. 
When I was living there, he helped me a lot, 
buying food so I could eat. I think this is why 
he wanted to live with me." 

These stories are quite different from their 
husbands' recollections of their adolescence, 
where men largely remembered a time of 
increased freedom and opportunities for 
work outside the home. In the Philippines, 
Girlie's father remembers how he "started 
going with my father to fish. We spent nights 
in the middle of the sea." Sokhea's father in 
Cambodia recalls: "Since I was a boy, I liked to 
follow my father's activities and ideas because 
my father was friendly and respected by many 
of the people in the village." 

Oumou's father from Togo explains: 
"I had to take care of the sheep and the 
poultry. I also took the cows to the grazing 
land with my other brothers." Naream's 
father from Cambodia tells how, despite 
dropping out of school, he was able to fulfil 
some of his ambitions: "My father was my 
role model, because I wished to become a 
medical doctor when I grew up, the same as 
my father. My dream could not come true 
after I dropped out of school. Even though I 
could not achieve his vision, my first job was 
as a medical worker who treats the people in 
the village and I always succeeded in saving 
the lives of those patients. I had medical 


knowledge which was transferred by my 
father but I did not have a formal degree 
recognised by the government." 

When girls continue to attend school 
through their adolescence, their daily lives are 
reasonably similar to boys'. School attendance 
can be an important first step towards an 
experience of greater gender equality as it 
brings adolescent boys and girls together 
to spend their time similarly during a critical 
phase in their transition to adulthood. 2 Time- 
use data from several countries shows how 
school attendance for girls during their teens 
also provides them with protection from the 
heavy burden of domestic work. 3 For many 
girls, continuing with their formal education 
could have created a very different trajectory, 
perhaps one like Emily's. 

Emily, Mikaela's mother in the Philippines, 
demonstrates what is possible for a young 
woman to achieve when she has access to 
several assets during adolescence - positive 
role models, educational opportunity and 
support from her family. Unlike most of the 
other mothers taking part in the study, Emily 
has had more formal education than her 
husband, Roy, who reached the second year of 

the same course as she did. Emily trained as a 
pastor after completing a university degree in 
theology and post-graduate teacher training. 
She is the only mother in the study who 
has a university degree. Emily recalls being 
influenced at an early age. "My idol then was 
the woman who taught us bible study. . . I 
admired her from when I was about five years 
old. She sang well, and she was kind." 

Emily's ambition was always to be a bible- 
school teacher and a pastor, and she achieved 
it. The family now lives in the small parsonage 
attached to Emily's church. Although Emily 
holds on to commonly held attitudes about 
the gender roles in her marriage - "Roy is 
the head of this family" - theirs is one of the 
few families in the study where the burden of 
domestic work appears to be shared and the 
power balance appears to be equitable. 

3 Family life now 

As the girls' mothers became young women 
and eventually left their childhood homes 
to get married and have families of their 
own, they continued to deal with gendered 
social pressures, for example expectations 
about paid versus unpaid work, which are 

Most of the women married young, and 
their role in marriage arrangements was 
largely passive. Albine's mother Noelie, in 
Benin, says: "He wanted us to get married; 
I agreed. He paid my dowry and we got 
married when I was 15 years old, according 
to the rules of the church and the civil code." 

Fridos Is.'s mother in Togo explains: "It was 
on a proposal from my mother. She wanted 
Fridos Is. and me to get married so I could support her in her 
her family. old age. Cola nuts and cloths were brought 

and afterwards the religious marriage was 

The story of Lantana, Yasmine's mother in 
Togo, is similar: "It was on a proposal from my 
dad. But it is the behaviour of my partner that I 
liked. I accepted the proposal of my dad. They 
brought the dowry and then the cloths and our 
religious marriage was celebrated." 


Many of the women reported that they 
have had no reproductive and sexual 
health education. Some found out about 
menstruation from friends or older 
siblings, but most had had no preparation 
for this critical stage in their lives. In 
some of the countries taking part in the 
study - Brazil, the Dominican Republic 
and Vietnam - women (and men) have 
joined reproductive and sexual health 
education classes either in preparation 
for marriage or childbirth. The experience 
of Charolyn's mother, Samaria, from the 
Dominican Republic is common among 
the Dominican women: "When I was 
pregnant they gave me a chat telling me 
all the things that happen to a woman. 
Before that I had no information. My 


mother never spoke to me about it. When 
I was pregnant with the two girls was 
when they started to tell me." 

The women who have taken part in 
classes are the only ones who reported 
that they discuss sexual and reproductive 
health with their partners, an important 
opportunity for women to have more 
control of their reproductive rights and 
to have more say in decision-making 
in their marriages. Beretchissou's 
mother Adia, in Togo, reports that she 
is given information about her sexual 
and reproductive health "when I go for 
pre-natal consultations with the staff of 
the health centre. I often talk with my 
husband about this." 

While the large majority of women agreed 
with the statement "the man is the head 
of the household", a significant proportion 
added a value statement, acknowledging 
that a women's role is changing in terms of 
household power relations and bargaining. 
When asked about decision-making in 
the home, most of the women said that 
while their husbands were responsible for 
making important decisions, they made 
some decisions jointly. This appeared to be 
a move away from their recollection of their 
parents' relationships, which were much more 
dominated by men. A small number of the 
women describe more equitable relationships, 
where household tasks are shared and 
decisions are made together. Kevyllen's 
mother, Keulle, in Brazil goes a step further 
and explains: "Here in our home it's different: 
I'm the head of the household, because I'm 
more decisive," but her view is uncommon. 


Many of the women reported that their 
husbands do help care for younger children 
when their wives are not at home, and in 
some communities - in the Philippines and in 
Vietnam - men fetch water and occasionally 
cook. Some of the men interviewed last year 
acknowledged the importance of helping and 
supporting their wives. However, it is clear 
that the prime responsibility for domestic tasks 
remains girls' and women's work. Lorena's 
mother, Neidijane, in Brazil, explains: "Here 
at home, I'm the only one who does domestic 
chores. My husband can't do anything. I think 
he's not interested in learning." 

Konthea's mother Sour, in Cambodia, says; 
"If I had a chance to choose, I would like 
to have two daughters and two sons. The 
purpose of having an equal number of children 
in my family would be that they have different 
tasks, such as girls could help in doing house 
chores while boys could help in doing farming 
tasks and other heavy work." 

Rema is Bhea's mother in the Philippines 
and she explains how her six year-old 
daughter reflects what she sees around her: 
"It's really Bhea who tells me, 'Ma, when I 
grow up I'll be the one to wash the clothes, 
clean the house'; and her older brother, she 
says, will be the one who fetches water and 
helps his father on the farm." 

While the women describe clearly defined 
household divisions of labour - and it is 
apparent that these male/female divisions are 
widely followed - what does seem to be slowly 
emerging is the recognition that school-age 
girls need extra time for homework, leisure 
and rest. Mercedes, Noelia's grandmother in 
the Dominican Republic, says: "I would like 
them always to remember what I wanted 
them to be. That they learn, that they study, 
that I never said: you don't go to school today 

Brenam and 
her family. 

because you have to wash the clothes, because 
you have to wash the dishes, or because you 
have to do something. No, I left them alone so 
that they could study." 

4 The future 

"There is no difference [between boys and 
girls]. All are human beings and all have the 
same rights and duties." 

Brenam's mother, Bella, from Togo 

As women who are mostly in their twenties 
and thirties, the mothers of the girls have 
themselves grown up in a time of rapid 
social change. On the whole, the women 
acknowledge that they are living in a time of 
change and that greater opportunities now 
exist for women and for girls. Many will have 
taken part in gender equality programmes of 
some sort, and may also have been exposed 
to these ideas through seminars, public- 
awareness campaigns and the media. 

Brenam's mother, Bella, from Togo believes 
that: "There is no difference [between boys 
and girls]. All are human beings and all have 
the same rights and duties." At the same 
time, she says, "Everyone has tasks. Farm 
tasks for men and sale of 'tchouk' local beer, 
and housework for women." Her view is 
typical of the women and this is a critical issue 
emerging from the research - whether the 
women will reconcile their ideas of gender 
equality with their own notions of femininity 
and masculinity. To what extent will they be 
able to adapt their own attitudes and actions 
in the home in order to support their young 
daughters so that they can stay in school? 

Given steady improvements in education 
in recent decades, the parents of today's girls 
are considerably more educated than their 
own parents were. Although their levels of 
education are relatively low, many of these 
women are the first cohort of women in their 

families to have any formal education at all. 
This alone has a significant impact on the 
educational prospects of today's girls. In Brazil, 
for example, the educational attainment of 
mothers of school-aged children has more 
than doubled in the 22 years from 1977 to 
1999, where this increase in parental schooling 
has been shown to account for a substantial 
proportion of the improvements in school 
enrolment over the same period. 4 

We are already seeing some of the benefits 
of girls' education across generations from 
the changing behaviour and attitudes within 
the families taking part in the study. The most 
striking responses overall are the women's 
overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards 
girls' education. Almost all of the women 
interviewed responded to the question "What 
are your hopes for your daughter's future?" 
by saying that they would hope for their 
daughters to be better educated than they 
were. Some went on to explain that in small 
ways they are disrupting the status quo in 
preparing their daughters for a better future. 
Juliet's mother Rose, in Uganda, explains: "I 
always think about their future. I have always 
encouraged them to go to school. I bought 
goats and chicken for the boys and bought 
plots of land for the girls, since the boys can 
always find land at their father's place." 

Elise, Abigael's mother in Benin, explains: 
"What will be different with Abigael is that 
she will complete her studies, get a job 
before getting married. She shouldn't marry 
too early." 


Six year-old Charolyn from the Dominican 
Republic is definitely picking up on the 
aspirations of her mother's generation. When 
asked what she wants to do when she grows 
up her confident response is, "/ want to go to 

It is clear that the families taking part in the 
study are committed to girls' education. The 
majority of the families have little spare cash 
but they are willing to make the investment 
in their daughters' education and most report 
spending on their children's education - see 
chart (right). Estefani's grandmother, Austria, 
in the Dominican Republic explains: "I used to 
say that I wanted the best for my daughters. I 
would have done anything to be able to afford 
to educate my daughters." 

Needless to say, families still have to make 
complex and difficult decisions about their 
children's education. It can be argued that 
economic pressure is now greater, as the 
poorest families spend a larger proportion of 
their income on basic needs such as food and 
shelter than a generation ago. 

As discussed in more detail in the main 
report, if education systems are to support 
development, gender equality and poverty 
reduction - in other words, to change society 
- what children are learning should give them 
the tools and skills that allow them to reach 
their full potential. The women acknowledge 
that the education girls (and boys) receive 
should be of the highest quality and be able 
to transform their lives. Maria's mother, Edna, 
from Brazil, believes that: "Freedom exists for 
boys and girls. The access of 
education is better and wider 
now, and these changes are 


wLCharolyn and 
Hfer drawing. 

Percentage of families reporting costs 
for sending children to school 


Many studies have shown how access to 
post-primary education, in particular, not 
only leads to learning outcomes but also to 
a change in attitudes and behaviour that will 
impact on the girl herself and her children. 
More educated mothers have more educated 
children as measured by years in school. 5 

As we have seen year-on-year in the study, 
the girls' parents have high ambitions for them, 
most of them expecting their daughters to 
complete secondary school. However, it is clear 
from their mothers' experiences that ambition 
is simply not enough in order for the girls to 
succeed. Parental, especially maternal, support 
is critical. Mercedes, Noelia's grandmother 
from the Dominican Republic, explains that 
things were quite different when she was a 
girl: "In the past they didn't bother to tell you 
[about aspirations] like they do today. [Today] 
people care about their children, because she 
tells me 'Mama, I want to be a 
doctor'. So you care because she 
likes it, and if she likes it, you do 
too. But, in my time, they didn't say 
anything to me." 

This ambition is evident in the 
views of the girls themselves, 
who at age six are aspiring to be 
teachers, nurses and midwives. 
Their aspirations are in line with 
girls the world over. Recent 
surveys of girls in the final year of primary 
school in Tanzania and Nigeria revealed that 
100 per cent aspired to complete secondary 
school and 88.5 per cent wanted to continue 
to higher education. 6 Tapenensi from Uganda 
wants to be a nursery teacher. She will need 
secondary education but at the moment she is 
not able to go school, "I stopped. Fees." 
The women's responses to questions 


about their vision for the future make it clear 
that while they recognise that there are real 
possibilities for the lives of their daughters to 
be different from their own, most refer back 
to the practicalities of daily life and defer to 
the reality of their lives where women and 
girls occupy the domestic space, and boys and 
men the external space. This reflects their own 
experiences as girls and young women. 
They are emphatic in their responses about 
the realistic chances of success for a young 
woman today, citing reproductive and 
domestic responsibilities as the main barrier 
for young women. Julienne, Marcelle's mother 
in Benin, hints that she believes that there are 
simply lower expectations of girls: "A boy can 
complete his studies, whereas a girl can give up 

Johanna's mother Josefina, in the Dominican 
Republic, sums up the general view: "We 
women would like to be successful in life, but 
we can't. Look now, I'd like to study, and what 
stops me? The three children. I can't leave 
them just like that, abandon them to go and 
study. I have to let them grow up first and then 
if I want to do something, I will do it. But men 
do go away and leave; nothing stops them." 

Mercedes is Noelia's 53 year-old 
grandmother from the Dominican Republic. 
Her story exemplifies both the challenge 
and future possibilities for girls' education. 
Mercedes told us how her focused efforts to 
educate herself, as well as her son, daughters 
and granddaughter are paying off. She put 
herself through night school after having her 
own children. Her three children are now either 
in university or are about to be enrolled. She 
remembers how, even as a girl, she told herself: 
" When I have my children, I am not going to 
have ignorant children; my children are going 
to study. . . I always used to think about that. I 
sent my daughter to school at three years old - 
the one who is studying nursing - and I always 
wanted my children to learn." 

She is clear that things are changing, that not 
everything will be different but her daughters 
and granddaughters, if well supported, will 
have opportunities she could only dream of. 
"Before, girls had more limitations and did 
not continue in school. Education has made 
men and women more equal. By studying, 
my daughters are able to get paid and put 
something towards a house. Before, men had 
more privileges. Now, this is changing." 

Family aspirations for cohort girls 

Work for Plan 
IT worker 
Office worker 
Health worker 
Finish high school 

Across almost every one of the families with 
daughters in the cohort study, the recurring 
refrain "things are changing" is a reason 
for optimism. Mothers in particular want a 
different and better life for their girls and see 
education as being the route to this. Will their 
commitment be enough to overcome the 
combined obstacles of poverty and entrenched 
ideas of male and female roles? Are the 
changes of attitude coming fast enough and 
consistently enough to overcome generations 
of gender inequality? Can these six year-old 
girls realise their full potential in societies and 
families where their rights, especially to an 
education, are respected? As we continue to 
track the girls through their first decade of life, 
our optimism will be tested as poverty and 
discrimination undermine everybody's good 

Noelia and her 

Because We are Girls 

'Real Choices, Real Lives' Cohort Study Map 


Daki (m] 

Emilienne (d) 



Chimene (d) 




Djalilatou (m) 

Yassminatou (d) 






Fridos Is. 



Fridos Id. (d) 











Fatima (m) 

Ihdaya (m) 



Thi Ngoc 
Thi Anh 
Thi Linh 
Thi Tra Giang 
Thi Bich Diep 
Thanh Thao L 
Than Thao D 
Thri Trang 
Thuy Ngan 
Phuong Thuy 
Le Kim Phung 
Thanh Tarn 
Thi My Huyen 
Thi Thuy Van 
Thi Kim Khanh 
Ngoc Huong Giang 
Tuong Vi 
Hoang Bao Ngoc 
Thi Thuong 
Nu Khanh Huyen 


Anna Maria 
Trassy (m) 
Resty (d) 



Sophea (m) 



Mary Joy T (d) 
Jessa B 
Mary Joy 
Jessa S (m) 

(m) = 


(d) = 


(I) = 

left the study 


Section 3 


Plan's Because I am a Girl campaign 152 

Introduction 153 

Female adolescent educational development map 1 54 

Female adolescent secondary school attendance map 156 

Female adolescent unemployment map 158 

Case studies - promising practice 160 

1 Abriendo Oportunidades, Guatemala 160 

2 SMS for Literacy in Pakistan 162 

3 Plan - Empowering girls through education 163 

4 FAWE-TUSEME (Let Us Speak Out) 165 

References 167 

Girls online 184 

Glossary 192 

Nargis's future? 197 

Plan Offices and Map 198 

About Plan International 200 


Plan's Because I am 
a Girl campaign 

Because I am a Girl is Plan's global campaign 
to promote girls' rights and lift millions of 
girls out of poverty through education and 
skill building. We aim to improve the lives of 
four million girls with access to school, skills, 
livelihood, participation and protection; 
40 million girls and boys through our 
programme work; and 400 million children 
through policy change. 

Across the world, girls face double 
discrimination due to their gender and age, 
leaving them at the bottom of the social ladder. 

For example, research has shown that girls 
are more likely to suffer from malnutrition; 
be forced into an early marriage; be subject 
to violence or intimidation; be trafficked, 
sold or coerced into the sex trade; or become 
infected with HIV. Discrimination against 
girls and women is also one of the main root 
causes of child poverty. 

Yet we know that investing in girls and 
young women has a disproportionately 
beneficial effect in alleviating poverty for 

Join in and take action at: 

everyone: not only the girls themselves, 
but their families, communities and entire 
countries. Everyone benefits, including boys 
and men. 

Plan believes that educated girls are 
empowered girls, who can transform their 
own lives and the lives of all around them. 
For this reason, the Because I am a Girl 
campaign will be geared towards equipping, 
enabling and engaging girls of all ages to 
acquire the assets, skills and knowledge 
necessary to succeed in life. 

The 'State of the World's Girls' annual 
reports provide, and will provide year after 
year, tangible proof of the inequalities 
which still exist between boys and girls, 
and will support the campaign with specific 
girl-oriented evidence. The report will 
give concrete recommendations, for the 
campaign to take forward in partnership, to 
ensure that every girl gets at least nine years 
of quality education and is able to realise her 
full potential. 




This section provides evidence to support 
the analysis of the 2012 report in the form 
of references, examples of good practice, 
visual mapping of girls' rights data, 
clarifications over terminology used in the 
report, and further resources relevant to 
girls' rights and girls' education. 

1 The two maps in this section chart the 
rate of adolescent female educational 
achievement levels globally, by focusing on 
the percentage of girls in the appropriate 
grade for their age, as well as comparative 
national school attendance rates. The 
maps also show a selection of the highest 
and lowest unemployment rates for 
females aged 15-24 across the world. 
These are important indicators of regional 
and national trends in adolescent girls' 
education, which provide a snapshot 

of the numbers of adolescent girls who 
are entering school late, falling behind, 
and having to repeat schooling in grades 
that are not appropriate for their age 
group. In addition, the maps give us a 
global overview of the high numbers of 
adolescent girls who should be in school, 
but are not. Lastly, by mapping the global 
rate of transition into employment for 
adolescent girls, we are able to show that 
in many parts of the world girls are not 
getting the education or recognition they 
need to obtain decent work. 

2 Our selection of 'Promising Practice' case 
studies provides detailed examples of 
some innovative and successful projects 
working for adolescent girls' education. 
The projects featured present a broad 
spectrum of interventions, from informal 
community-based programming to 
national level policy-wide approaches. 


3 The glossary includes detailed 
explanations of gender- related and 
education-specific terms. 

4 The online resources section provides a 
useful reference guide for information on 
organisations, campaigns, research and 
databases focusing on girls' rights and 


Female adolescent educational achievement 


Lowest percentage of 12 year-old girls who are 1 
at the appropriate grade for age 1 

1 Highest percentage of 10-14 year-old girls who are 
1 falling two or more years behind grade for age 

Country % Country 


1 Country 

f % Country % 










Mozambique 75.4 Ethiopia 

Cambodia 69.8 Rwanda 

Comoros 68.9 Chad 

Central African Republic 67.4 Malawi 

Togo 63.9 Madagascar 


Female adolescent educational achievement 

Source: The data was compiled by Maplecroft 
using data obtained from two reports. For 
10-14 year-old girls falling two or more years 
behind grade for age, data was obtained from the 
report entitled 'New Lessons: The Power of 
Educating Adolescent Girls' published by the 
Population Council and Coalition for Adolescent 
Girls. Data from a UNICEF Childinfo report titled 
"Adolescents and Education in Africa" was used 
for the percentage of 12 year-old girls in the correct 
grade for age. 



Female adolescent secondary school attendance 




10-14 year-old girls 
attending secondary 



No data 



Lowest percentage of 10-14 year-old girls attending secondary school 
% | Country % 1 Country % 

Tanzania C 

).6 Uganda 2 

6 Zambia 3.7 

Cote d'lvoire 5.6 

Rwanda C 

).8 Chad 2 

9 Niger 3.8 

Mali 6.2 

Mozambique C 

).9 Ethiopia 2 

9 Guinea 4.2 

Cambodia 7.6 

Kenya 1 

.2 Burkina Faso 3 

1 Haiti 4.7 

Bolivia 7.7 

Malawi 1 

.6 Togo 3 

2 Senegal 5.3 

Guatemala 7.7 

Girls attending school 

Source: The data was compiled by 
Maplecroft using data obtained from 
the report 'New Lessons: The Power of 
Educating Adolescent Girls' published 
by the Population Council and Coalition 
for Adolescent Girls. 



Female adolescent unemployment 



Austria - 
Norway - 
Denmark - 
Germany - 




South Korea 

Macao (China) 


Female adolescent 


No data 


Sri Lanka 


South Africa 

Highest unemployment rate among girls aged 15-24 years old 

Lowest unemployment rate among girls aged 15-24 years old 



South Africa 









Sri Lanka 


Macao (China) 


South Korea 






Female adolescent 

Source: The data was compiled by 
Maplecroft using data obtained from 
the International Labour Organisation's 
(ILO) Key Indicators of the Labour 
Market database. 




Case Studies - Promising practice 

1 Population Council: Abriendo 
Oportunidades, Guatemala 


Abriendo Oportunidades is 
a national empowerment 
programme that engages 
and focuses on meeting 
the needs of indigenous 
girls and young women in rural Guatemala 
- one of the most vulnerable and 
underserved groups. 

The programme is driven by girls in 
their hard-to-reach communities and 
makes them the central engine in building 
individual capabilities and improving the 
social environment around them. Through 
a process that actively connects girls and 
adults at the community level, programme 
participants broaden their life and leadership 
skills and, by extension, strengthen their 
families and communities. 

The programme is working to influence 
positively community attitudes about the 
value of girls and the importance of their 
education and of equal opportunities. 
As the girls gain confidence, skills and 
greater ambition for a better life, family 
and community perspectives toward girls' 
education have become more favourable 
and girls' education outcomes show signs of 

The programme has been implemented 
by the Population Council and an evolving 
range of institutional partners since 2004. To 
date, Abriendo Oportunidades has worked 
with seven different Mayan ethnic groups, 
engaged more than 45 rural communities, 
and reached more than 4,000 indigenous 

Key beneficiaries 

• Rural indigenous Mayan girls aged 8-15 
(divided into cohorts aged 8-12 and 13-15) 
and young female leaders aged 16-20 in 


• To help break the poverty cycle and enable 
Guatemalan girls to reach their full potential. 

• To increase Mayan girls' social support 

• To connect girls with positive female role 
models and mentors. 

• To build a base of critical life and 
leadership skills. 

• To provide hands-on professional training 
and experience for girl leaders. 


• Engage community leadership and 
influential adults (with a focus on mothers) 
to support rural girls and designate a safe 
public space for girls to meet, share and 
learn regularly. 

- Girl leaders are supported to form 
and run clubs and build supportive 
relationships with local authorities. 

• Select, train and support young female 
leaders (mentors) ages 16-20 to lead 
community-based clubs for girls aged 8-15 
(in two age cohorts). 

• Deliver an annual programme through 
girls' clubs to build girls' knowledge and 
skills, expand social support and social 
capital, and increase access to information 
and support to improve their health, 
education and livelihood opportunities. 

• Conduct parallel activities with mothers to 
build their capabilities and encourage their 
support for their daughters. 

- Workshops include self-esteem, life skills, 
developing aspirations and planning 

for the future, sexual and reproductive 
health, and HIV/AIDS prevention. 

- Provide opportunities for girls to take on 
leadership positions within the clubs and 

• In each annual girls' club cycle, new peer 
mentors/girl leaders are identified and 
trained; some older girls also apply for 
one-year paid professional internships with 
local institutions in the public and private 


• Connect girls' clubs and programme 
graduates in national Guatemalan 
Indigenous Girls Resource and 
Empowerment Network (GIGREN), which 
serves as a platform for indigenous girls to 
advocate for their needs and rights at both 
the community and national level. 


• As rural indigenous girls learn practical 
skills and take on leadership positions, 
families and communities are strengthened 
and girls' roles and status improve. 

• 100 per cent of Abriendo girl leaders had 
completed the sixth grade, compared to 
81.5 per cent of girls nationally. 

• More Abriendo girls were in school at the 
close of the 2009-10 programme cycle 
(72 per cent), compared with the national 
average for indigenous girls (53 per cent 
for those aged 13-15 and 29 per cent 
among 16-17 year-olds). 

• 97 per cent of Abriendo girl leaders 
remained childless during the programme 
cycle, compared with the 78.2 per cent 
national average for 

girls in their 

age range (15-19). 

• 94 per cent of J 
Abriendo girl _ 
leaders reported 

experiencing greater mk 
autonomy and feeling Jf* 
more comfortable 

expressing their opinions, and 84 per 
cent said their role at home had improved 
during the programme cycle. 

• 88 per cent of girl leaders reported having 
a bank account and 44 per cent had 
obtained paid employment when the 
programme cycle finished. 

• Programmes with common design 
elements have been implemented in 
Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, South 
Africa, Egypt and other countries. 

• There is demand to replicate the Abriendo 
programme in Guatemala and a number of 
local and international NGOs have picked 
up common elements. 

Good practice and lessons learned 

• Reaching vulnerable girls requires targeted, 
dedicated programmes that go where they 
are. These girls are unlikely to benefit from 
more conventional youth programmes. 

• Girls need and appreciate regular, planned, 
safe and supportive opportunities to learn 
and share. 

• The engagement of the community 
and girls themselves in the design, 
implementation and tracking of 
programme results is critical to ensuring 
programme appropriateness, effectiveness 
and sustainability. 

• Influencing cultural and gender norms is 
most effective from within. By building 
and exercising their capabilities and 
expanding their vision and goals for their 
lives, girls are favourably shifting the 
environment around them. 

• Social support and skill-building 
programmes can complement formal 
systems by providing practical information 
and capabilities to marginalised girls, 
which allow them to make more informed 
choices with regard to their health, 
education and well-being. 

Recommendations for the future 

• Sustainability and scale of programmes like 
Abriendo Oportunidades require careful 
planning, increasing local and national 
engagement and ongoing support. 

• The basic programme model has shown 
favourable results in an increasingly wide 
range of countries and cultural contexts, 
indicating its potential for wider expansion 
and replication. Programmes with common 
design elements have been implemented 

in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, 
Ethiopia and Egypt*. 

• The medium- and long-term results of a 
programme like Abriendo Oportunidades 
take time to manifest. As such, it is 
recommended that longitudinal tracking 
of programme graduates be planned and 

• Planning for the technical and financial 
resources required for programme 
evaluation and long-term follow-up is 

* See, for example, the Population Council Transitions To 
Adulthood' programmes. 

2 Mobilink, UNESCO and Bunyad 
'SMS for Literacy' Pakistan 3 4 5 


It is estimated that by 201 5, Pakistan's 
non-literate population will make up more 
than 55 million people. 6 Women and girls, 
especially those living in rural areas, are the 
most likely to be illiterate, with only 29 per 
cent of these girls and women being literate 
compared with 78 per cent of urban boys and 
men. 7 There are over four million out-of- 
school girls in Pakistan; however, even those 
girls who do manage to make it to school 
may subsequently suffer as they are unable 
to maintain their skills due to inaccessibility 
to learning materials, both because of 
distance and conservative attitudes towards 
the mobility of girls and women. 8 In the 
2010 'Because I am a Girl' report, 'Digital 
and Urban Frontiers: Girls in a Changing 
Landscape', we reported on the 'SMS for 
Literacy' programme in Pakistan, run by a 
partnership between Mobilink, UNESCO 
and a local NGO, Bunyad. 9 The project was 
initially designed to ensure girls and young 
women who had completed a basic literacy 
course could maintain and improve their 
skills through distance learning using mobile 
phones. Since the successful pilot in 2009, 
the project has been expanded to target 
1 ,250 girls and young women and their family 
members. The current programme is run 
by UNESCO, Literacy & NFBE Department 
Government of the Punjab, Bunyad 
Foundation, Nokia, Mobilink, Agahi and 
Dhaka Ahsania Mission. 

Key beneficiaries 

Girls and women aged 15-30 living in four 
districts in rural Pakistan, who had recently 
completed a basic literacy programme. The 
girls and young women are then expected to 
enrol their siblings and family members on 
the programme. 


• To improve girls' and women's quality 
of life and independence by overcoming 
inaccessibility to learning materials using 

mobile phones to maintain literacy skills. 

• To increase wider access to learning 
materials by encouraging the girls and 
women participating in the programme to 
enrol their siblings and family members. 

• To motivate parents to send their 
daughters to school by engaging parents, 
especially mothers, in the programme. 

• To challenge socio-cultural barriers to girls' 
education, mobility and participation in 


• Each girl and woman was given a low-cost 
mobile phone with pre-paid connection 
and enrolled at a Mobile-Based Post 
Literacy Centre. 

• Bunyad trained teachers to help students 
practise reading and writing using mobile 
phones. 10 

• Mobilink set up a system for Bunyad 
to send SMS text messages in Urdu on 
relevant topics to the girls and young 
women. The girls responded to their 
teachers via SMS. 

• Teachers carried out monthly assessments 
of the girls' and young women's learning 

• Participants were then encouraged to 
enrol their siblings and other family 
members in the programme, who would 
then go on to complete the same process. 

• Girls, young women and family members 
could then buy their mobile phones at a 
low price. 


• The 2009 pilot project conducted with 
250 girls and young women was directly 
correlated to improvements in literacy. 
Before the project, 57 per cent of the 
girls and young women scored the lowest 
grade in a basic literacy test. After the 
project, this figure decreased to 11 per 
cent and girls scoring the highest grade 
increased from 28 per cent to more than 
60 per cent. 11 

• The expanded project will maintain 
and improve 1,250 girls' and young 
women's literacy skills and that of their 
family members. Communities will be 
empowered to own and run Mobile 
Literacy Centres, making the programme 
more sustainable. 



• The programme was both engaging 
and effective. The use of mobile phones 
appears to be far more effective in 
maintaining literacy than other print-based 
methods. In addition, there were no drop- 
outs from the Mobile Literacy Centres, 
showing that the girls were enthusiastic 
about mobile learning. 

• Teachers reported that girls had more 
confidence, both due to their improved 
literacy skills and due to the physical 
security that mobile phone access made 
them feel. 

• The programme managed to challenge 
embedded socio-cultural attitudes to girls' 
education and, as a result, more parents 
sent their girls to school. 

Good practice and lessons learned 

• Students reported that typing in Urdu 
using an English alphabet was sometimes 
difficult and time consuming. 

• Family and community trust and 
participation have been key to the 
success of the programme. Despite initial 
resistance to their daughters owning 
mobile phones, families gradually began 
to support the programme, especially after 
they saw the educational nature of the 
messages sent and received. Partnership 
with organisations with strong community 
ties and inclusion of family members 

of the participants is therefore strongly 
recommended for similar programmes. 

Recommendations for the future 

For sustainable expansion in the future it 
was agreed that there should ideally be no 
financial support from a donor. Instead, a 
learner should purchase the mobile handset 
with a loan/subsidy from the mobile 
manufacturer or service company. This 
would lead to increased sustainability of the 
project, as well as a sense of ownership on 
the part of the learners themselves. 


3 Plan: Empowering girls through 

education 1213 


By addressing and combating low levels of 
female literacy, Plan's recently implemented 
'Empowering girls through education' 
project in India's northern state of Bikaner 
aims to support girls by helping them to 
realise their right to education. In order 
to complement the Indian Government's 
National Development Goals (based on the 
Millennium Development Goals - MDGs), 
the project is designed to work with girls 
who have graduated from Plan primary 
school programmes, supporting their 
transition to secondary schools and providing 
access to skills training and job opportunities. 

Bikaner is a district with low levels of 
literacy, with an average literacy rate of 57.5 
per cent compared to the national average 
of 61 .03 per cent. The figures are even lower 
when disaggregated by sex: the literacy rate 
for men is 70.78 per cent but only 42.55 per 
cent for women. 14 

The project has been running for six 
months and monitoring and evaluation is at a 
preliminary stage. 

Key beneficiaries 

Adolescent girls from poor families who 
have previously participated in Plan primary 
school programmes. 


To help girls to realise their right to a 
quality education, and ultimately lead to 
increased independence, earning potential, 
empowerment and dignity in the future. 

• To help build girls' confidence and 
knowledge through providing life skills, 
vocational training, linking girls with 
government schemes and providing 
support to girls for accessing quality 

• The project aims to benefit 1,350 girls over 
two years, of which 450 will be supported 
in attaining secondary education. 

• An additional 300 girls will be provided 

with vocational skills and employment 

• To provide training to prepare 600 girls for 
government service over three years. 


• Plan spent time on establishing contacts 
with the community, consulting girls, 
identifying resource agencies, recruiting 
teachers and setting up camp facilities. 

• An annual three-day 'Balika Sammelan' 
(adolescent girls' summit) to celebrate 
girls' empowerment was created. This 
involves 2,500 adolescent girls who are 
ex-students of 'Balika Shivirs' (residential 
camps for primary education). The 'Balika 
Sammelan' celebrates and marks the girls' 
achievements, understands their current 
situation and assesses current and future 
needs. It assists the girls to prioritise 

and prepare action plans based on these 
needs, and conducts a screening test to 
categorise girls into groups according to 
their aspirations, aptitudes and skills so 
that they may access training programmes. 

• A residential school is provided to girls 
who have passed their 8th grade standard 
and aspire to continue to the 10th or 12th 
grade standard by providing academic and 
life skills training. 

• Financial assistance is provided to 
cover the cost of examination fees and 
textbooks for girls from low-income 
backgrounds who were not able to 
participate in the residential school 

• The issues of household responsibilities 
placed upon the girls are addressed by 
linking them with various government 
social protection schemes so that they 
are able to devote more time to their 

• Female teachers were recruited and 
trained to support the girls in a protective 
environment that provides information on 
child rights and life skill education. 

• Vocational courses were taught covering 
topics such as tailoring, embroidery and 
computer skills. Institutional arrangements 
were made with government technical 
agencies to provide training to the girls. 
Participants are provided with certification 
after completing the course. 

• Support is offered to the participants to 

find jobs or to create enterprises using the 
skills developed through the vocational 

• Girls are connected to opportunities within 
government agencies to provide courses, 
certification, and work within teaching, 
nursing, the police force and other 
professional courses. 

Progress to date 

• Many of the girls have expressed their 
desire to pursue further studies, and many 
asked for vocational skills so that 
they could become socially and 
economically empowered. 

• 27 girls have been enrolled in the 
residential school. 

• 16 of the 27 girls are preparing 
for the 10th grade. 

• 11 of the 27 girls are studying for 
the 12th grade. 

• The Rajasthan Government 
syllabus has been followed by the girls 
in the residential camps. The learning 
competence of the girls is good and it is 
expected that at least 90 per cent of the 
girls will succeed in their examinations. 

• Two groups of 50 girls have been selected 
to participate in the vocational training 

• 50 girls from economically poor families 
have been provided with a scholarship to 
support their examination fees and the 
cost of course textbooks. 

Good practice and lessons learned 

• Getting girls who have dropped out 
back into education is challenging, so 
efforts should be made to ensure girls 
continue their education without any 
break. In this programme, Plan works 
with girls who graduated from Plan 
primary school programmes. The girls 
then attend empowerment camps where 
future opportunities are clearly identified. 
Plan provides access to making these 
opportunities a reality through education 
programmes, vocational skills training, 
and connecting girls to job opportunities 
related to their training and education. 

• By investing in the initial project 
implementation, Plan spent time 
establishing contacts within the 
community - this has led to project success 


as the community has taken ownership 
and accepted responsibilities, such as 
identifying girl students for participation, 
propagating the idea of residential camps 
and empowerment programmes, and 
convincing parents to send their daughters 

• Providing safe and supportive learning 
environments and access to information 
about education rights to girls and 
communities coupled with connecting girls 
to skills training and job opportunities helps 
lessen the chance of girls dropping out. 

Recommendations for the future 

• Competent female residential 
schoolteachers are essential to provide 
both academic and life skills lessons. 
Capacity-building of teachers is a good 
way to ensure the teachers learn methods 
of effective teaching in a girl-friendly 

• Empowering girls to build their 
confidence and recognise their rights to 
education works best when coupled with 
opportunities. These opportunities include 
holistic measures such as supportive 
environments to complete education, and 
providing education and skills training. 


Fonim for African Women EdiKattonafots 
forum des Educjtnccs AliKamcs 

4 Inclusive action: 
(Let Us Speak Out) 15 


The Forum for African Women 
Educationalists is a pan-African non- 
governmental organisation, founded in 1992, 
whose goal is to increase access to, improve 
retention in and enhance the quality of 
education for girls and women in Africa. 

The TUSEME programme (TUSEME is a 
Swahili expression translated as "let us speak 
out") was initiated in Tanzania in 1996 in 
partnership with the University of Dar es 
Salaam. The programme was a reaction to 
concerns among educationalists, parents and 
social groups about the poor performance 
and drop-out rates of girls in secondary 

schools. The programme is ongoing, and 
is designed to act as an empowerment 
platform for girls to speak out and express 
their views on issues affecting their academic 
and social development by using theatre-for- 
development techniques to address concerns 
hindering girls' social and academic capacity. 

Key beneficiaries 

Girls and boys of secondary-school age, with 
a priority focus on girls. 


• To empower girls and increase girls' 
participation in secondary school. 

• To train girls to identify and understand 
the problems affecting them at school, to 
articulate these problems and take action 
to solve them. 16 

• To reduce school drop-out due to poor 
academic achievement, early pregnancy, 
sexual harassment and other causes of 
drop-out or poor academic performance 
based on other forms of gender 


• School clubs are established which help 
girls to learn negotiation skills, how to 
speak out, self-confidence, decision- 
making and leadership skills, through the 
use of drama, song and creative arts. 

• TUSEME clubs are student-centred 
structures which facilitate the 
implementation of activities towards the 
empowerment of girls. They also serve 
as a speaking-out forum for students to 
discuss issues related to their social and 
academic welfare. 

• Students are trained to establish theatre 
clubs where they are able to translate 
the problems they have identified, along 
with solutions, into theatre performances, 
whilst also receiving some basic training in 
theatre production. 

• A post-performance forum is held 
immediately after to discuss the issues 
highlighted. The audience is encouraged 
to discuss the issues, find solutions and 
propose strategies for action. 

The solutions are then transferred to a 
plan of action that each school will use as 
a guide to try to address the barriers to 
girls' education. 

• Students receive life skills training 
whereby they acquire a set of skills to 
empower them to deal with gender- 
based impediments to their education 
and self-development. The training 
includes building self-confidence and self- 
esteem, speaking out, decision-making, 
assertiveness, negotiation, leadership and 

• Following the training, the students 
are equipped with skills to engage and 
convince their school administration, 
teachers, other students and community 
members to take action to improve the 
social and academic situation for girls at 

• TUSEME clubs can also take the form of 
study clubs in some schools. 


• Over 80,000 girls in 21 countries have 
benefited from the TUSEME programme 
since 1996. 

• 51,061 girls in nine African countries 
benefited from TUSEME FAWE's Youth 
Empowerment model, putting them in 
a better position to fight gender bias, 
stereotyping and discrimination. 17 

• The programme has seen a direct 
improvement in girls' self-esteem and in their 
leadership, social and life skills. 18 

• By 2007, a total of 416 teachers were 
trained 19 , and attitudes towards girls' rights 
at school have improved and led to a 
significant reduction in sexual harassment. 20 

• In Rwanda alone, by 2012 there were 
TUSEME clubs operating in 54 schools, with 
3,657 club members. Of these, 50.3 per 
cent are girls while 49.7 per cent are boys. 21 

• The project has led to boys adopting 
more gender-friendly attitudes towards 
girls' schooling and to abandon gender 
discriminatory attitudes and practices. 22 

• The Tanzanian Ministry of Education and 
Culture officially adopted the programme 
model in 1999 in order to mainstream 
TUSEME into the country's 1,890 secondary 
schools. In addition, the Kenyan education 
centre support programme has also 
incorporated it into its schools. 23 

• In some schools, the establishment and 
support of study groups helped improve 
the academic performance of TUSEME 

• Other results included 
enhanced relations between 
headteachers, teachers and 
students; improved sexual 
maturation management; and 
improved teachers' attitudes 
towards girls. 24 

• Since its inception, the 
TUSEME model has been 
replicated across the African continent 
in countries such as Burkina Faso, Chad, 
Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, 
Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, 
Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

• Importantly, implementing the TUSEME 
model has proved to be a very effective 
strategy for building confidence, 
assertiveness and self-esteem in girls. In 
addition, girls' ability to analyse situations, 
make correct decisions, and challenge 
the systems, decisions and situations that 
negatively affect their welfare has improved 

Good practice and lessons learned 

FAWE Rwanda has reported that some of 
the lessons learned with the TUSEME process 

• Strategies need to be put in place to 
combat high teacher turnover following 
TUSEME training. 

• Lack of support or understanding from 
some headteachers resulted in limited 
support or backing from schools. 

• More newsletters are needed in order to 
reach the required number of children and 

Recommendations for the future 

• FAWE Rwanda called for increased 
capacity building for headteachers and 
new TUSEME club teachers in order to 
gain maximum impact and support from 
schools. 25 

• Increased communication around best 
practice models in order for newer clubs to 
learn from other more established clubs. 26 

• More TUSEME club-monitoring visits. 27 

• Increased community outreach activities in 
order to stimulate community involvement 
and support. 28 



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Section 1: Chapter 2 

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23 ABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality, 
Geneva: ILO, 2000 and Gender and Household Food 
Security. Rome: International Fund for Agricultural 
Development, 2001. 

24 ABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality, Geneva: 
ILO, 2000 and Gender and Household Food Security. Rome: 
International Fund for Agricultural Development, 2001. http:// 

25 Plan International. 'Plan's Policy on Gender Equality: Building 
an Equal World for all Children.' Internal Document, 2011. 

26 Plan International. 'Plan's Policy on Gender Equality: Building 
an Equal World for all Children.' Internal Document, 2011. 

27 Plan International. 'Plan's Policy on Gender Equality: Building 
an Equal World for all Children.' Internal Document, 2011. 

28 UN Women. 'Gender Mainstreaming.' 
womenwatch/osagi/gendermainstreaming.htm (last accessed 
31 May 2012). 

29 United Nations Statistics Division, UNDESA, Millennium 
Development Goals Indicators: The Official United Nations site 
for the MDG Indicators. 'Indicator Metadata' Found online: =9 
(last accessed 10 May 2012). 

30 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004/UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

31 New JNCHES Equality Working Group. 'The Gender Pay 
Gap - A Literature Review', 

d = 0CFwQFjAA&url = http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ucea. 
fpZgjQ7y3roKXvtHG_nlw (last accessed 11 May 2012). 

32 Plan International. 'Plan's Policy on Gender Equality: Building 
an Equal World for all Children.' Internal Document, 2011. 

33 Plan International. 'Plan's Policy on Gender Equality: Building 
an Equal World for all Children.' Internal Document, 2011. 

34 United Nations International Research and Training Institute 
for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW): Glossary of 
Gender Related Terms and Concepts. Gender and Household 
Food Security. Rome: International Fund for Agricultural 
Development, 2001. 

35 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.'UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

36 United Nations Statistics Division, UNDESA, Millennium 
Development Goals Indicators: The Official United Nations site 
for the MDG Indicators. 'Indicator Metadata' Found online: =9 
(last accessed 10 May 2012). 

37 Nations Online. 'Countries by gross national income (GNI).' 
countries.htm (last accessed 11 May 2012). 

38 AWID. Facts and Issues: Women's Rights and Economic 
Change, Intersectionality A tool for Gender and Economic 
Justice. No. 9, August 2004. 

39 United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women 
(DAW), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
(OHCHR), United Nations Development Fund for Women 
(UNIFEM. Gender and racial discrimination: Report of the 
Expert Group Meeting. Zagreb, Croatia, 21-24 November, 

40 UNESCO UIS. 'Glossary'. Found online: http://glossary.uis. Last updated 2009. (Last 
accessed 11 May 2012). 

41 World Health Organisation. 'Health Statistics and Health 
Information Systems'. Found online: 
healthinfo/statistics/indmaternalmortality/en/index.html (last 
accessed 10 May 2012) 

42 Hole-in-the-Wall Education. 'Minimally Invasive Education'. (last accessed 11 
May 2012). 

43 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

44 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

45 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

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2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

47 United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women. 

48 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

49 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

50 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

51 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

52 World Health Organisation. Technical Consultation on Sexual 
Health. January 2002. 

53 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

54 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

55 BRIDGE. "Briefing paper on the 'feminisation of poverty'" 
Prepared by BRIDGE for the Swedish International 
Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). IDS: UK. April 2001. 

56 Mezirow, J. 'Transformative dimensions of adult learning'. San 
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991. 

57 Clark, M. C. 'Transformational learning' in Merriam, S. B. 
(Ed.). 'An update on adult learning theory' San Francisco: 
Jossey-Bass, 1993. 

58 EFA GMR 'Gender and Education For All The Leap to Equality 
2003-2004.' UNESCO: Paris. 2003. 

59 United Nations. 'Millennium Development Goals'. Found 
(last accessed 11 May 2012). 


Girls online 

A list of links to websites, reports, research 
institutions, databases, practitioner blogs 
and agencies working on education initiatives 
with a particular focus on girls and young 

Business Sector 

The Girl Effect is a shared initiative by the 
Nike Foundation and the NoVo Foundation to 
create opportunities for girls. The 'girl effect' 
shows how a girl's empowerment can impact 
the girl, her community and humanity at 
large; it also provides tools and information 
for private sector actors, NGOs, governments 
and policymakers on how to empower girls. 
Visit the Girl Effect at: 

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is an 

initiative that works to provide under- 
served women in developing countries with 
business and management education, and 
to expand entrepreneurial talent. Its goal is 
to provide 10,000 women with a business 
and management education over the next 
five years. '10,000 Women' works with 
development, NGO and educational actors. 
More information on the initiative can be 
found at: 

Standard Chartered Bank - 'Goal': works to 
empower girls in their communities through 
sports training and life skills education 
programmes. This initiative partners with 
non-governmental organisations working 
with girls in China, India, Jordan, Nigeria and 
Zambia. To find out more about Standard 
Chartered's MDG projects, see here: goal- 
girls, com 

United Nations Global Compact is a policy 
initiative for businesses that are committed 
to aligning their organisation with humane 
principles in the area of human rights, anti- 
corruption, labour and the environment. 
By implementing this, businesses can 
ensure that market and commerce benefit 
economies and societies everywhere. 
An important part of the programme is 
concerned with empowering women in the 
workplace. More information can be found 

here : unglobalcompact. org/ Issues/ human _ 
rights/ equality_means_business.html 

World Economic Forum runs a Women 
Leaders and Gender Parity Programme 
which strives to promote female leadership 
and close the gender gap. It produces a 
Global Gender Gap Report which includes 
a full ranking of 128 countries from both 
the developing and developed world. It also 
monitors the change in rank from previous 
years to map improvements in the gender 

Girls' Rights Organisations 

Camfed is an organisation dedicated to 
improving access to education for girls in 
Africa. Using a community-based, holistic 
approach, Camfed provides long-term support, 
such as fees throughout a girl's schooling; 
offers business training and small grants to 
women; and aims to empower women through 
a partnership with Cama, an association of 
Camfed alumni and other African women, 
which encourages young African women to 
become leaders in their own communities. Find 
more information at: 

Forum of African Women's Educationalists 
(FAWE) is a pan-African NGO founded by 
five female ministers of education. It works 
to improve access and quality of education to 
girls in the region. It has national chapters in 
34 African countries. More information can be 
found at: 

Girls, Inc. is a non-profit organisation 
dedicated to empowering girls. It provides 
educational opportunities to girls in the most 
vulnerable sections of society in the United 
States. For more information, visit: 

Girls Learn International is a US-based 
organisation which pairs American middle- 
and high-school chapters with schools in 
countries where girls have traditionally been 
denied education. It promotes cross-cultural 
awareness and understanding and trains girls 
to be leaders in the movement for positive 
social change, 


Great Science for Girls 

The Great Science for Girls: Extension Services 
for Gender Equity in Science through After 
School Programs aims to provide inquiry- 
based informal science learning programmes 
that will stimulate girls' curiosity, interest and 
persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering 
and Maths (STEM) and break down the 
barriers of gender stereotyping. The site offers 
information on curriculum planning, resources 
and research, 
resources- research /effective-stem -practices 

Ipas is an organisation focused on increasing 
women's ability to assert their sexual and 
reproductive rights. It works in several areas, 
focusing on sexual violence and youth, 
including advocacy, research, and training 
health workers in safe abortion technique and 
technologies. For more information, visit: 
ipas. org/ Index, aspx 

Room to Read focuses on literacy and gender 
equality in education. The organisation works 
in collaboration with communities and local 
governments across Asia and Africa to develop 
literacy skills and a habit of reading. Room to 
Read emphasises supporting girls to complete 
secondary school with the life skills they need 
to succeed at school and beyond, roomtoread. 
org/ page, aspx ?pid=209 

Vital Voices is a global partnership that aims 
to empower women worldwide. Working in 
partnership with organisations in the business 
sector, it works to train women leaders and 
entrepreneurs around the world who can 
then go back and train women in their own 

Womankind Worldwide aims to promote 
women as a force for change in development. 
It works in 15 developing countries, funding 
projects tied to women's legal rights and 
self-empowerment. Visit the website at: 
womankind, org. uk 

Women for Women International is a global 
NGO that works with socially excluded 
women survivors of conflict, by providing 
them with financial aid, job training, rights 
awareness and leadership education. To learn 
more about the programmes and projects they 
run, visit: 

The Population Council is an international 
non-governmental organisation conducting 
research into population issues worldwide. It is 
merging its research areas into three headings: 
HIV and AIDS; Poverty, Gender and Youth; 
and Reproductive Health. Their publications 
and resources can be found here: popcouncil. 
org/ publications/ index, asp 


She's The First is a media action campaign 
established by young women to promote girls' 
education in areas where that right is not often 
an opportunity, by attracting donors to their 
online directory of schools with sponsorship 

10x10 is a global movement for girls' 
education channelling film and social action 
to increase investment in girls by driving 
resources to girl-focused programmes 
already operating, by penetrating the public 
consciousness and creating a vast grassroots 
network. Building on their support, 10x10 
advocates for governmental, global and 
institutional policy changes to empower 
adolescent girls. Find out more about their 
film and work here: 

ActionAid (Stop Violence Against Girls in 
School) is a multi-country initiative working 
to address violence against girls in schools 
within Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique. The 
campaign aims to reduce violence against 
girls in schools by shaping policies and laws 
and ultimately empowering girls to challenge 
the culture of violence in and around 
schools, and increase girls' enrolment. 
General information on the Stop Violence 
Against Girls in School project can be found 
stop -violence-against- girls-schools 

Amnesty International (Stop Violence 
Against Women) is a campaign which strives 
to end violence against women and girls 
in times of peace as well as war. Its main 
themes are the empowerment of women, 
violence against women perpetrated by the 
state and the implementation of existing 
laws on rape and sexual violence. For 
more information, visit: 
campaigns/ stop -violence-against-women 

Girl Up is the United Nations Foundation 
awareness-raising campaign to harness girls' 
energy and enthusiasm as a powerful force 
for change, 


Association for Women's Rights in 
Development (AWID) is an international 
organisation working for women's rights, 
gender equality and development. It works 
to build alliances and influence international 
institutions to advance women's issues. 
AWID provides current and up-to-date 
information on women's rights in the news 
as well as profiling recent research and 
information on a multitude of topics, themes 
and countries. See: 
The AWID Forum is a global women's rights 
and development conference which brings 
together leaders and activists to inform and 
broaden understanding of gender equality. 

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls acts as 
a platform for more than 30 international 
organisations working to improve the lives of 
adolescent girls in the developing world who 
are trapped in cycles of poverty. Check out: 

NGO Working Group on Girls' Rights is an 

international network which aims to ensure 
domestic implementation of international 
standards relating to girls in all stages of 
their youth, as well as promote advocacy 
of girls' issues in international policy. More 
information can be found at: 

Women in Development Europe (WIDE) 

is an umbrella organisation of European 
women's organisations which monitors 
and influences economic and development 
policy from a feminist perspective. It 
produces a monthly e-newsletter on its 
activities and news relating to gender and 
development. To sign up for the newsletter, 
follow this link: 

A Safe World for Women: The 2011 
Campaign focused on ending all forms of 
abuse of women and girls. It is an online 
organisation that brings together NGOs, 

groups and individuals committed to a 
safer world. Their website contains useful 
information on the types of violence 
inflicted against women and girls. Visit: 

Youth movements 

World Association of Girl Guides and 
Girl Scouts works worldwide to provide a 
non-formal education through which girls 
can gain life skills and self-development. 
It reaches approximately 10 million girls 
through 145 member organisations. For 
more information, visit: 
wagggsworld. org/ en /home 

YWCA is a global network empowering 
women around the world to enact social 
and economic change. It works with 
25 million women and girls in 22,000 
communities. It works in four priority areas: 
peace with justice; human rights; women's 
health and HIV/AIDS; and sustainable 
development. For more information, visit: 


The Cherie Blair Foundation works to 
provide entrepreneurship opportunities 
and access to technology for women 
worldwide. It provides finance, networking 
and business development support on the 
premise that economically empowered 
women not only have greater control 
over their own lives and the lives of their 
children, but also signal a brighter future 
for their communities and economies. 
cherieblairfoundation. org 

The Nike Foundation supports initiatives to 
engage, empower and invest in adolescent 
girls which they view as a key element to 
reducing poverty in developing countries. 
The Nike Foundation was part of the 
coalition to form The Girl Effect (see 
page 184). 

Girls Action runs innovative girls' 
empowerment programmes across Canada, 
investing in girls and young women 
at both a local and national level. The 


programmes foster community leadership 
skills and inspire action to change the 
world. Many of the girls enrolled in the 
programmes are from remote, marginalised 
and urban communities. Find out more at: 
girlsactionfoundation. ca/en 

UN Foundation The Foundation's Women 
and Population section has been working to 
empower women and girls worldwide, on the 
premise that they are essential to eradicating 
poverty and achieving social justice. They 
place a particular focus on reproductive and 
sexual health and rights, as well as investing 
in, and advocating for, adolescent girls. More 
information can be found at: unfoundation. 
org/what-we-do/ issues/ women- and- 


World Bank works closely with other 
development organisations towards 
improving girls' education. It finances 
projects in developing countries as well as 
providing technology and financial assistance 
to countries with high gender disparities in 
education. Other excellent resources from 
the World Bank on girls' empowerment can 
be found at: 

Global Partnership for Education is a 

multi-lateral partnership which aims to 
ensure access to a quality education for the 
67 million children currently not at school. 
It brings together governments; bilateral, 
international and regional agencies; m 
development banks; private sector ^ jT 
partners, and local and global civil 
society groups to mobilise and 
coordinate resources to achieve this 



Girl Hub is a collaboration between the UK 
Government's Department for International 
Development (DFID) and the Nike 
Foundation. Girl Hub aims to form a global 
network of girls' experts and advocates and 
link them with development programmes 
and policymakers to promote girls' rights, 
and work to include girls in policy design and 

iKNOW Politics is an international 
knowledge network of women in politics 
from around the world who share 
experiences, access resources and advisory 
services, and network and collaborate 
on issues of interest. The organisation 
is made up of five partners: UNDP, 
UNIFEM, National Democratic Institute 
for International Affairs, The International 
Institute for Democracy and Electoral 
Assistance, and the Inter-Parliamentary 
Union. More information can be found here: 
iknowpolitics. org/ node/ 221 

World Bank Adolescent Girls Initiative 

hopes to improve girls' employment 
prospects tomorrow with training and 
education today. It works in partnership with 
the governments of Australia, the United 
Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, 
and private sector firms including Cisco, 
Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman 
Sachs. The initiative also offers incentives 
to employers to hire and train girls. For 
more information, visit: 


Asia Pacific Women's Watch is a regional 
network of women's organisations. It works 
to improve women's rights by working with 
other NGOs, national governments and the 
UN. More information can be found at: 
apww-slwngof. org/ 

Girls Count is a global research series 
of reports focused on adolescent girls' 
empowerment. Previous reports have 
included 'Girls count: a global investment 
and action agenda', 'New lessons: the 
power of educating adolescent girls', 
'Start with a girl: a new agenda for global 
health', 'Girls speak: a new voice in global 
development' and 'Girls grow: a vital 
force in rural economies'. The reports are 
produced by the Coalition for Adolescent 
Girls and a number of changing partners 
including the Chicago Council on Global 
Affairs, the Population Council, the 
Center for Global Development and the 
International Center for Research on 
Women. To learn more about the report 
series, visit: 

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is 

a global network of children's organisations 
which coordinates and promotes information 
on child rights. It has a membership of 
2,000 organisations, and its search facilities 
can be narrowed down by region or theme 
with extensive information concerning 
children's legal rights. For more information 
concerning child rights mechanisms, see: 

International Centre for Research on Women 
(ICRW) is an organisation which works on 
research, technical support for capacity 
building and advocacy. Its research focus 
includes: adolescence, HIV/AIDS, food 
security and nutrition, economic development, 
reproductive health and violence against 
women. Regarding girls, it works towards 
improving sexual and reproductive rights 
and combating child marriage. Its many 
publications on the subject can be found at: 
icrw. org/ publications 

International Women's Rights Action Watch 
(IWRAW) Asia Pacific works to promote 
domestic implementation of international 
human rights standards. It focuses on the 
CEDAW, facilitating a flow of information 
from the international to the domestic, 
ensuring that women worldwide are aware 
of their rights. More information can be 
found at: 

World Economic Forum: Since 2006, the 
World Economic Forum's Global Gender 
Gap Report series has been capturing and 
measuring the magnitude of gender-based 
disparities and tracking their progress over 
time. The reports introduced an index 
which benchmarks national gender gaps on 
economic, education, health and political- 
based criteria, and provides country rankings 
that allow for effective comparisons across 
regions, between men and women, between 
income groups and over time. For more 
information, visit: 

Young Lives is an international longitudinal 
study of childhood poverty, following 12,000 
children in Peru, India, Vietnam and Ethiopia 
over 15 years. Young Lives is a collaborative 
research project funded by the Department 

for International Development (UKAID) and 
coordinated by the University of Oxford 
in collaboration with research and policy 
partners in the four countries. For more 
information on Young Lives, take a look at: 

A report by Young Lives on Poverty and 
Gender Inequalities was used as a background 
paper for the development of the 2011 
'Because I am a Girl' report. Check it out 
here: younglives. org. uk/ files /policy -papers/ 

Resources and Databases 

Right to Education Project aims to promote 
social mobilisation and legal accountability, 
focusing on the legal challenges to the right 
to education. The site offers resources on 
issues regarding gender and the right to 
Additionally, the tools and resources section, 
which provides information, links and reports 
can be found here: 

Wikigender is a pilot project initiated by the 
OECD, which is dedicated to indexing and 
sharing terms and information on gender 
issues, including girls' empowerment. For 
more information, visit: 

Centre for Research on Violence Against 
Women and Children produces action- 
oriented research in order to support local, 
national and international communities in 
their work against violence against women 
and children. The Centre's research and 
publications can be found here: 

Devlnfo is a powerful database 
combining three databases to review 
the implementation of the Millennium 
Development Goals. Of particular interest 
is its Tacts. You decide' page which shows 
statistics on each of the MDGs. It can be 
found here: 

Ed Stats The World Bank offers 
educational statistics resources providing a 
comprehensive data and analysis source for 
key topics in education. 


Institutions and Development Database 
(GID-DB) represents a new tool for 
researchers and policymakers to determine 
and analyse obstacles to women's economic 
development. It covers a total of 160 
countries and comprises an array of 60 
indicators on gender discrimination. The 
database has been compiled from various 
sources and combines in a systematic and 
coherent fashion the current empirical 
evidence that exists on the socio-economic 
status of women. 
Another of their projects is the SIGI (Social 
Institutions and Gender Index), a composite 
measure of gender discrimination based 
on social institutions in 102 non-OECD 
countries. Users may build their own gender 
index by changing the priority of the social 
institutions in the SIGI. 

Girls Discovered is a comprehensive, 
interactive resource of data relating to the 
welfare, health, education and opportunities 
of girls worldwide. It enables users to choose 
from over 200 datasets and view, compare 
and analyse their data on maps or download 
it as a spreadsheet. 

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Sexual Violence Prevention Network uses a 
social justice and health framework, in order 
to raise awareness and share information with 
the ultimate goal of ending sexual violence. Its 
objective is to foster a network of researchers, 
policymakers, activists and donors to address 
the problem of sexual violence. To see a list of 
resources available, visit: 

UNESCO Institute for Statistics is an online 
database with global statistics on education, 
science and technology, culture and 
communication for more than 200 countries 
and territories. It includes a specific section 
on gender and education which monitors 
the progress of girls and the educational 
attainment levels of women. It creates 
new indicators to provide policy-relevant 
information at national and international 

WomenWatch provides information and 
resources on gender equality and female 
empowerment. The girl child is one of 
its critical areas of concern. It is a useful 
source of information as it provides clear and 
easy access to the various UN conventions, 
bodies and activities relating to gender in a 
user-friendly way. Information specifically 
related to the girl child can be found at: /directory/ the _g\rl_ 

The WomanStats Project provides extensive 
and comprehensive information on the 
status of women in the world. The Project 
facilitates understanding the linkage 
between the situation of women and the 
security of nation-states, and highlights 
qualitative and quantitative information on 
over 310 indicators of women's status in 
174 countries. For more information, visit: 
womanstats. org/ index, htm 

World Atlas of Gender Equality in 
Education: UNESCO's global atlas of gender 
equality in education charts worldwide data 
trends concerning gender and education 
with broader social, economic and political 
factors. To read more, visit: 
uis. unesco. org/ Education /Documents/ 

Young Feminist Wire is an exciting new 
online community for young feminist 
activism, which showcases the work of 
young feminists, brings them together to 
enhance their effectiveness, and offers 

UN Initiatives 

Gender and HIV/AIDS web portal has been 
set up by UN Women in collaboration with 
UNAIDS in order to provide comprehensive 
and up-to-date information on the gender 
dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For 
further information, see: 

Say NO to Violence is presented by UN 
Women, and records what individuals, 
governments and organisations are doing to 
end violence against women worldwide and 
count the actions taken towards that goal. 
They provide free resources and publications 
to download at: 

Stop Rape Now is a UN Action Against 
Sexual Violence in Conflict, uniting the 
work of 13 UN entities with the goal of 
ending sexual violence in conflict. It aims 
to improve coordination and accountability, 
amplify programming and advocacy, and 
support national efforts to prevent sexual 
violence and respond effectively to the needs 
of survivors. For more information, visit: 

The E4 conference, held in April-May 
2010, aimed to promote partnerships 
for girls' education against the obstacles 
that violence, poverty, climate change, 
health and educational quality can pose. 
The 'Dakar Declaration on accelerating 
Girls' Education and Gender Equality' was 
unanimously adopted by the participants at 
the conference, 

UN Programme on Youth is the UN's 
focus centre on youth. It produces a 
biannual World Youth Report. One of 
its areas of concern is girls and young 
women. Information regarding its work 
on girls and young women can be 
found at: 
World Programmeof Action forYouth/ 
Girlsandyoungwomen. aspx 

End Poverty 2015: The United Nations 
Millennium Campaign aims to support 
and promote awareness of the MDGs. The 
campaign produces publications which 
summarise the data and achievements of 

the MDGs so far, and there is a specific 
section dedicated to their gender/women's 
empowerment publications. Information can 
be found at: 

Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence 
Against Women and Girls is presented by 
UN Women and acts as a one-stop online 
centre which encourages and supports 
evidence-based programming to design, 
implement, monitor and evaluate initiatives 
more efficiently and effectively to 
prevent and respond to violence 
against women and girls. The website 
provides step-by-step programming 
guidance and expert advice, including 
working with men and boys. For more 
information, see: 

Women Watch was first established as 
a joint UN project in 1997 to provide an 
internet space for global gender equality 
issues and to support implementation of 
the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. It is 
now managed by a taskforce of the Inter- 
Agency Network on Women and Gender 
Equality, led by UN Women, and acts as a 
central gateway to information and resources 
on the promotion of gender equality and 
the empowerment of women throughout 
the United Nations system. For more 
information, visit: 

United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) 

is a global initiative that partners higher 
education institutions with the United 
Nations in order to promote the universally 
accepted principles of human rights, literacy, 
sustainability and conflict resolution. Visit: 
outreach, un. org/unai/ 

United Nations Decade of Education for 
Sustainable Development (ESD) seeks to 
mobilise the educational resources of the 
world to help create a more sustainable 
future. It focuses on 12 key areas, including 
gender equality, indigenous knowledge, 
disaster risk-reduction, sustainable 
urbanisation and climate change. For more 
information, see: 




UN Agencies 

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 

focuses on child development, education and 
gender equality, HIV/AIDS, child protection 
and policy advocacy. Of particular interest 
to girls is the 2007 'State of the World's 
Children' Report: 'Women and Children: 
the Double Dividend of Gender Equality', 
the 2009 report: 'Maternal and Newborn 
Health', the 2010 report: 'Child Rights', 
the 2011 report: 'Adolescence - An Age of 
Opportunity', and the 2012 report: 'Children 
in an Urban World'. You can access all of 
these publications here: 

UN Commission on the Status of Women 

is a commission of the Economic and Social 
Council dedicated to gender equality and the 
advancement of women. The 54th session 
of the commission, which reviewed the 
implementation of the Beijing Declaration 
and its contribution towards the realisation 
of the Millennium Development Goals, can 
be found here: 

UN Women (United Nations Entity for 
Gender Equality and the Empowerment 
of Women) was created in July 2010 to 
accelerate the UN goals on gender equality 
and the empowerment of women. UN 
Women has merged together the roles of 
works for the elimination of discrimination 
against women and girls, the empowerment 
of women, and equality between women 
and men as partners and beneficiaries of 
development, human rights, humanitarian 
action and peace and security. UN Women 
seeks to support inter-governmental bodies 
to formulate policies, global standards and 
norms, to help member states to implement 
these standards (through technical and 
financial support) and to forge effective 
partnerships with civil society. In addition, 
UN Women holds the entire UN system 
accountable for its own commitments 
on gender equality, including regular 
monitoring of system-wide progress. For 
more information, see their website: 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and 
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) publishes an 
annual global monitoring report on the state of 
the world's education, Education For All (EFA). 
The EFA movement is a global commitment to 
provide quality basic education for all children, 
youth and adults. Commitments are made to 
gender equality in education. The 2003/2004 
EFA global monitoring report, which focused 
on girls and education, can be found here: 
reports/ Additional information on UNESCO 
and Education for All can be found at: 
portal, unesco. org/ education /en/ 
ev.php-URL_ID=30870&URL_DO = DO_ 

United Nations Development Programme 
(UNDP) is the UN's development 
organisation and works on the ground in 166 
countries. Its yearly Human Development 
Report monitors development at national, 
regional and international levels, and can 
be found at: Of 
particular interest: its Human Development 
Index (HDI) measures a country's 
development by considering education, 
life expectancy and income, but it also 
produces indices specific to gender: the 
Gender Development Index and the Gender 
Empowerment Index, which can be found at: 
hdr. undp. org/ 'en /statistics/ 'indices /gdi_gem/ 

United Nations Girls' Education Initiative 
(UNGEI) aims to ensure that by 2015 the 
gender gap in primary and secondary 
education will have narrowed and all 
children complete primary education. Its 
'Gender Achievement and Prospects' in 
education (GAP) projects works to assess 
progress towards MDG 2 (universal primary 
education by 2015) and identify obstacles and 
innovations. The GAP Report can be found at: 

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 

uses population data to ensure that every man, 
woman and child has the right to a healthy 
life. It produces a yearly 'State of the World's 
Population' report, several of which have 
focused on gender. 2006 focused on 'Women 
and International Migration', 
lib _pub_file/ '650_filename_sowp06-en.pdf 



Adolescent Fertility Rate: The number of 
births per 1,000 women aged 15-19. 1 

Assets: Anything of material value or 
usefulness that is owned by a person. 
Can include human assets (e.g. skills and 
knowledge), financial assets (e.g. cash), 
physical assets (e.g. land ownership), and 
social assets (e.g. relations of trust). 2 

Basic Education: Refers to instruction 
at the first or foundation level, on which 
subsequent learning can be based; it 
encompasses early childhood and primary 
(or elementary) education for children, 
as well as education in literacy, general 
knowledge and life skills for youth and 
adults; it may also extend into secondary 
education in some countries. 3 

Basic Learning Needs: Refer to the 
knowledge, skills, attitudes and values 
necessary for people to survive, to improve 
the quality of their lives, and to continue 
learning. 4 

Compulsory Education: The age range 
during which children and young people are 
legally obliged to attend school. 5 

Convention on the Rights of the Child 
(CRC): The first legally binding international 
instrument to incorporate the full range of 
human rights - civil, cultural, economic, 
political and social rights - for children. 
Adopted in 1989, the Convention sets out 
these rights in 54 Articles and two Optional 
Protocols. It spells out the basic human 
rights that children everywhere have: the 
right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to 
protection from harmful influences, abuse 
and exploitation; and to participate fully 
in family, cultural and social life. The four 
core principles of the Convention are non- 
discrimination; devotion to the best interests 
of the child; the right to life, survival and 
development; and respect for the views of 
the child. 6 The CRC refers to an adolescent 
girl's right to survival and development, 
protection from exploitation and abuse, and 
her right to participate and express views on 

matters that concern her life, as her capacity 
for making responsible choices evolves 
between the period of adolescence and 
adulthood. 7 

Early and Forced Marriage: Early marriage is 
any form of marriage that takes place before 
a child is 18 years old. Most early marriages 
are arranged and based on the consent of 
parents. 8 Forced marriage is any marriage 
conducted without the full consent of both 
parties and where duress is a factor. Early 
marriages often include some element of 
force. 9 

Education For All: The Education for All 
(EFA) movement is a global commitment 
to provide quality basic education for 
all children, youth and adults. At the 
World Education Forum (Dakar, 2000), 
164 governments pledged to achieve 
EFA and identified six goals to be met by 
2015. Governments, development agencies, 
civil society and the private sector are 
working together to reach the EFA goals. 10 

Empowerment: Can be interpreted as 
freedom of choice and action to shape one's 
life, including the control over resources, 
decisions and institutions necessary to do 
so. 11 The lack of power is one of the main 
barriers that prevent girls and women from 
realising their rights and escaping cycles 
of poverty. This can be overcome by a 
strategy of empowerment. Gender-based 
empowerment involves building girls' assets 
(social, economic, political and personal), 
strengthening girls' ability to make choices 
about their future, and developing girls' 
sense of self-worth and their belief in their 
own ability to control their lives. 12 

Enrolment: Number of pupils or students 
enrolled at a given level of education, 
regardless of age. See also Gross Enrolment 
Ratio and Net Enrolment Ratio. 13 

Entrance Age (official): Age at which pupils 
or students would enter a given stage of 
education assuming they had started out 
at the official entrance age for the lowest 



level of education, had studied full time 
throughout and had progressed through 
the system without repeating or skipping a 
grade. 14 In some countries, children enter the 
education system later than the official age 
of entry, meaning they will be older than the 
other students in class and might also drop 
out sooner. 

Female Genital Cutting; Female Genital 
Mutilation; Female Circumcision: The 

cutting, or partial or total removal, of 
the external female genitalia for cultural, 
religious or other non-medical reasons. It is 
usually performed on girls between the ages 
of four and 10 and results in the cutting or 
removal of the tissues around the vagina that 
give women pleasurable sexual feelings. 15 

Gender: The concept of gender refers to the 
norms, expectations and beliefs about the 
roles, relations and values attributed to girls 
and boys, women and men. These norms 
are socially constructed, they are neither 
invariable nor are they biologically determined 
and they change over time. 16 They are 
learned from families and friends, in schools 
and communities, and from the media, 
government and religious organisations. 17 

Gender-Based Violence (GBV): Gender- 
based violence refers to physical, sexual, 
psychological and sometimes economic 
violence inflicted on a person because of 
being male or female. Girls and women 
are most frequently the targets of gender- 
based violence, but it also affects boys 
and men, especially those who do not fit 
dominant male stereotypes of behaviour or 
appearance. 18 GBV occurs in many forms, 
including but not limited to intimate partner 
violence (IPV), domestic violence, sexual 
violence, and femicide or the killing of 
women because of their gender by males. 
The frequency and severity of GBV varies 
across countries and continents, but the 
negative impact it has on individuals and on 
families is universal and has direct links to 
health problems. 19 

Gender Discrimination: Gender 
discrimination describes the situation in 
which people are treated differently simply 
because they are male or female, rather 

than on the basis of their individual skills or 
capabilities. For example, social exclusion, 
inability to participate in decision-making 
processes, and restricted access to and 
control of services and resources are 
common results of discrimination. When 
this discrimination is part of the social order 
it is called systemic gender discrimination. 
For instance, in some communities, families 
routinely choose to provide education 
for their sons but keep their daughters at 
home to help with domestic work. Systemic 
discrimination has social and political roots 
and needs to be addressed at many different 
levels of programming. 20 

Gender Equality: Gender equality means 
that women and men, girls and boys enjoy 
the same status in society; have the same 
entitlements to all human rights; enjoy the 
same level of respect in the community; can 
take advantage of the same opportunities 
to make choices about their lives; and have 
the same amount of power to shape the 
outcomes of these choices. Gender equality 
does not mean that men and women are 
the same, but rather that they have different 
but related needs and priorities which are 
recognised and equally valued. Women and 
men's relative positions in society are based 
on standards that, while not fixed, tend to 
advantage men and boys and disadvantage 
women and girls. Consequently, they are 
affected in different ways by policies and 
programmes. A gender equality approach 
is about understanding these relative 
differences, appreciating that they are not 
rigid but can be changed, and then designing 
policies, programmes and services with these 
differences in mind. Gender equality can then 
be measured in terms of equality of results, 
meaning gender equality is concerned with 
arriving at equal outcomes rather than giving 
identical treatment. Ultimately, promoting 
gender equality means transforming the 
power relations between women and men, 
girls and boys in order to create a more 
just society for all. 21 Gender equality is not 
a 'women's issue' but should concern and 
fully engage men as well as women. Equality 
between women and men is a human rights 
issue and a precondition for, and indicator of, 
sustainable people-centred development. 

Gender Equity: Fairness of treatment 
for women and men, according to their 
respective needs. A gender equity 
approach ensures equitable access to, and 
control of, the resources and benefits of 
development through targeted measures. 22 
This may include equal treatment or 
treatment that is different but considered 
equal in terms of rights, benefits, 
obligations and opportunities. 23 In the 
development context, a gender equity 
goal often requires built-in measures to 
compensate for the historical and social 
disadvantages of women and girls. 24 
Scholarships for girls are one example of 
an equity approach that contributes to all 
children, boys and girls, accessing school 
and equally benefiting from education 
opportunities. Increased gender equity is 
only one part of a strategy that contributes 
to gender equality. 25 

Gender Justice: Gender justice refers to 
the ending of inequalities between women 
and men that result in women's and girls' 
subordination to men and boys, in both the 
informal and formal sectors. 26 It implies that 
girls and boys, men and women have equal 
access to and control over resources, the 
ability to make choices in their lives, as well 
as access to provisions to redress inequalities, 
as needed. A commitment to gender justice 
means taking a position against gender 
discrimination, exclusion and gender-based 
violence. It focuses on the responsibility to 
hold duty bearers accountable to respect, 
protect and fulfil human rights, particularly 
of girls and women. 27 

Gender Mainstreaming: This is a strategy 
for promoting gender equality which ensures 
that gender perspectives and attention to 
the goal of gender (e.g. achieving gender 
equality) are central to all activities. Gender 
mainstreaming can be applied to many 
activities, such as policy development, 
research, advocacy, resource allocation 
and development and monitoring of 
programmes. 28 

Gender Neutral Approach: Where gender is 
not considered relevant to the outcome and 
gender norms, roles and relations are not 
affected (worsened or improved). 

Gender Norms: Socially constructed beliefs 
regarding men and women's behaviour 
which are 'assigned' in accordance with 
their biological sex. These norms govern our 
actions and choices and may lead to gender 

Gender Parity Index (GPI): The ratio of 
the number of female students enrolled at 
primary, secondary and tertiary levels of 
education to the number of male students 
in each level. 29 A GPI of 1 indicates parity 
between sexes; a GPI that varies between 
and 1 means a disparity in favour of boys; 
a GPI greater than 1 indicates a disparity in 
favour of girls. 30 

Gender Pay Gap: The gender pay gap refers 
to the difference between men's pay and 
women's pay as a percentage of men's pay. 31 

Gender Stereotypes: Gender stereotypes 
are socially constructed and unquestioned 
beliefs about the different characteristics, 
roles and relations of women and men 
that are seen as true and unchangeable. 32 
Gender stereotypes determine the gender 
roles that males and females play in society 
by influencing what is considered masculine 
and feminine. At the same time, they 
reinforce gender inequality by portraying 
these views and beliefs about women's 
and men's roles as biologically or culturally 
true. They are reproduced and re-enforced 
through processes such as the education 
and upbringing of girls and boys, as well as 
the influence of media. In many societies, 
girls are taught to be responsive, emotional, 
subservient and indecisive; while boys learn 
to be assertive, fearless and independent. 
Gender stereotyping occurs when such 
characteristics are persistently attributed to 
the roles and identities of males and females 
in society. It shapes people's attitudes, 
behaviours and decisions and locks girls 
and boys into behavioural patterns that 
prevent them from developing to their full 
potential and realising their rights. Gender 
stereotyping can lead to the social exclusion 
of those who do not fit the stereotype. 33 

Gender Transformative Approach: A policy 
or programme approach which assumes 
that gender equality is central to achieving 


positive development outcomes and 
transforming unequal power relations. 34 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): refers to the 
gross market value of all officially recognised 
goods and services produced within a 
country in a given time period. 35 

Gross Enrolment Ratio: refers to the 
number of pupils enrolled in a given level 
of education, regardless of age, expressed 
as a percentage of the population in the 
theoretical age group for the same level of 
education. 36 

Gross National Income (GNI): This 
comprises the total value of goods and 
services produced by the domestic economy 
of a country, measured within a given period 
of time, usually a year (a similar value is 
Gross National Product (GNP)). 37 

Intersectional Discrimination: The idea of 
intersectionality refers to the interaction 
between two or more forms of discrimination 
or systems of subordination. It highlights the 
ways in which racism, patriarchy, economic 
disadvantages and other discriminatory 
systems contribute to create layers of 
inequality. 38 Moreover, it addresses the 
way that specific acts and policies create 
intersecting burdens that contribute actively 
to create a dynamic of disempowerment. 39 

Literacy Rate: The percentage 
of population of a given age 
range who can both read and 
write, with understanding, a 
short simple statement on their 
everyday life. 40 

Maternal Mortality: refers to the death of 
a woman while pregnant or within 42 days 
of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of 
the duration and site of the pregnancy, from 
any cause related to or aggravated by the 
pregnancy or its management but not from 
accidental or incidental causes. 41 

Minimally Invasive Education: A pedagogic 
method that uses the learning environment 
to generate an adequate level of motivation 
to induce learning in groups of children, with 
minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher. 42 

Net Attendance Ratio: Number of pupils 
in the official age group for a given level 
of education who attend school in that 
level, expressed as a percentage of the total 
population in that age group. 43 

Net Enrolment Ratio: Number of pupils in 
the official age group for a given level of 
education enrolled in that level, expressed as 
a percentage of the total population in that 
age group. 44 

Net Intake Ratio in Primary Education: 

Number of pupils at the official school 
entrance age who are new entrants to the 
first grade of primary education, expressed 
as a percentage of the children of official 
admission age to primary education. 45 

Out-of-School Children: Children in the 
official school-age range who are not 
enrolled in school. 46 

Patriarchy: Refers to historical power 
imbalances and cultural practices and 
systems that confer power and offer men 
and boys more social and material benefits 
than women and girls. 47 

Public Expenditure on Education: Total 
public finance devoted to education by local, 
regional and national governments, including 
municipalities. Household contributions are 
normally excluded. Public expenditure on 
education includes both capital and current 
expenditure. Capital (public) expenditure 
includes expenditure for construction, 
renovation and major repairs of buildings 
and the purchase of heavy equipment 
or vehicles. Current (public) expenditure 
includes expenditure for goods and services 
consumed within the current year and which 
would have to be renewed if there were a 
need for prolongation the following year. It 
includes expenditure on staff salaries and 
benefits; contracted or purchased services; 
other resources, including books and teaching 
materials; welfare services; and other current 
expenditures such as furniture and equipment, 
minor repairs, fuel, telecommunications, 
travel, insurance and rents. 48 

School Age Population: Population of the 
age group which officially corresponds to the 

relevant level of education, whether or not 
enrolled in school. 49 

School Life Expectancy: Number of years 
a child is expected to remain at school 
or university, including years spent on 
repetition. It is the sum of the age-specific 
enrolment ratios of primary, secondary, 
post-secondary, non-tertiary and tertiary 
education. 50 

Secondary Education: Includes two levels: 
lower secondary education (ISCED Level 
2), generally designed to continue the basic 
programmes of the primary level. Teaching 
at lower secondary level is typically more 
subject focused, requiring more specialised 
teachers for each subject area. The end of 
this level often coincides with the end of 
compulsory education. Upper secondary 
education (ISCED Level 3) is the final stage 
of secondary education in most countries. At 
this level, instruction is often organised more 
along subject lines than at ISCED Level 2 and 
teachers typically need to have a higher or 
more subject-specific qualification than at 
ISCED Level 2. 51 

Sex: Refers to the biological characteristics, 
which define humans as male or female. This 
should not be confused with gender, which is 
a social attribution. 52 

Technical and Vocational Education: 

Designed mainly to prepare pupils for direct 
entry into a particular occupation or trade 
(or class of occupations or trades). 53 

Tertiary or Higher Education: Includes two 
stages: the first stage of tertiary education, 
ISCED Level 5, includes programmes with 
an educational content more advanced than 
those offered at ISCED Levels 3 and 4. This 
first stage of tertiary education is composed 
of ISCED Level 5A, which includes largely 
theoretically based programmes intended to 
provide sufficient qualifications for gaining 
entry to advanced research programmes and 
professions with high skills requirements; 
and ISCED 5B, which includes programmes 
generally more practical/technical/ 
occupationally specific than ISCED 5A. The 
second stage of tertiary education, ISCED 
Level 6, is reserved for tertiary programmes 

leading to the award of an 
advanced research qualification. The 
programmes are devoted to advanced 
study and original research. 54 

The Feminisation of Poverty: Is used 
to describe incidences where women 
have a higher rate of poverty than men, 
where their poverty is more severe than 
that of men, and where there is a trend of 
greater poverty among women, particularly 
associated with rising rates of female-headed 
households. 55 

Transformative Education: The study of 
transformational learning emerged with the 
work of Jack Mezirow in relation to adult 
learning specifically. 56 Transformational 
learning is defined as inducing more far- 
reaching change in the learner than other 
forms of learning, especially learning 
experiences which shape the learner and 
produce a significant impact, or paradigm 
shift, which affects the learner's subsequent 
experiences. 57 

Transition Rate to Secondary Education: 

Number of pupils admitted to the first grade 
of secondary education in a given year, 
expressed as a percentage of the number of 
pupils enrolled in the final grade of primary 
education in the previous year. 58 

Types of Empowerment: Empowerment can 
be understood in terms of four distinct types 
of power relations: 

• Power over: the ability to coerce and 
influence the actions and thoughts of the 

• Power to: the capacity to act, to organise 
and change existing hierarchies. 

• Power with: increased strength from 
collective action, social mobilisation and 

• Power from within: increased individual 
consciousness, self-dignity and awareness. 

Universal Primary Education: Millennium 
Development Goal 2 (to achieve Universal 
Primary Education) is enshrined in Target 
2A, which aims to ensure that, by 2015, 
children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will 
be able to complete a full course of primary 
schooling. 59 


Nargis's future? 

to credit 




Nargis, the seven 
billionth baby is born! 

Nargis has beaten the 
odds. There are only 
899 girls to every 
1,000 boys in her 
state 1 because of sex 
selective abortions 
and child neglect. 
Invest in: 

ECCD centres can play 
an important role in 
changing attitudes 
towards girls and 
ensuring they are well 


2 http://www.girlsdiscovered. 

3 http://www.globalgiving. 

4 http://www.corstone. 
international. cfm?ArticlelD = 6 


6 http://www.girlsdiscovered. 

7 http://www.economics. 

8 http://www.csps. emory. 




Nargis is six! She's 
ready to go to primary 

Only 80% of girls 
enrol in primary 
school. 2 A much smaller 
percentage will actually 
come to school every 
day. A quarter will 
drop out because they 
can't afford the fees. 
Only 27% of girls will 
complete primary 
school. 3 Almost a 
quarter of girls in her 
state will never attend 
school. School drop- 
out costs the Indian 
economy $10 billion in 
potential income over 
these girls' lifetime. 4 
Invest in: Scholarships 
and conditional cash 
transfers (CCTs) can 
increase enrolment 
and completion rates 
for girls, effectively 
taking the financial 
burden of education 
out of the equation 
for poor families. 
Providing CCTs for the 
poorest household 
would only cost $1 
billion over five years. 5 



Nargis is learning 
literacy and numeracy. 

Only 50% of girls 
emerge from primary 
school and into 
adolescence 6 with the 
ability to read and 
Invest in: 
By increasing the 
number of well- 
trained female 
teachers to at least 
30% nationally, and 
ensuring child-pupil 
ratio doesn't rise 
above 1:40 - schools 
can begin to tackle 
lack of learning. 
Studies in India have 
shown that hiring 
even one extra female 
teacher raises girls 
attendance by 50%. 7 



Nargis has aced her 
exams, she's now 12 
years old and she's 
enrolled in secondary 
school where she 
is learning about 
reproductive health. 

Almost 45% of girls 
in Uttar Pradesh will 
be married before 
they are 15 years old 
and almost 12% will 
be teenage mothers 
before they are 15. In 
fact, India loses $383 
billion in potential 
lifetime income 
because of teen 
Invest in: 
Ensuring girls 
stay in secondary 
school through 
financial support, 
providing on-site 
safe accommodation, 
separate facilities for 
girls and ensuring 
female teachers 
are well paid and 
well trained - will 
substantially decrease 
the number of girls 
pulled out of school 
for marriage purposes. 



Nargis has completed 
secondary school in 
good health, with the 
skills and knowledge 
to open her own 
bank account, start 
a business and take 
control of her future 

In Uttar Pradesh almost 
49% of girls aged 15-19 
are anaemic (suffering 
from iron deficiency, 
which can cause birth 
complications), and 
while 71% of girls the 
same age work for pay, 
only 20% have control 
over their earnings 
and less than 9% 
have access to a bank 
account for savings. 
Invest in: 

Research has shown 
that providing girls 
with access to credit 
or small loans allows 
them to purchase 
a productive asset 
to help them earn 
an income, delay 
marriage, bring the 
asset to their in-laws' 
house when they do 
marry, and reduce the 
dowry required. 8 


Where Plan works 









donor country 
programme country 
programme and donor country 


Plan International Headquarters 

Dukes Court 

Block A 

Dukes Street 


Surrey GU21 5BH 
United Kingdom 
Tel: (+44)1483 755 155 

Plan Asia Regional Office 

18th Floor, Ocean Tower 2 Building 

75/24 Sukhumvit 19 Rd 

Klongtoey Nua, Wattana 

Bangkok 10110 


Tel: +66 (0)2 204 2630-4 


Plan East and South Africa Regional 

Cedar road, off Lantana Road, 

off Raphta Road 

PO Box 14202-00800 
Tel: +254-20-4443462/3/4/5 
Email: Regis. nyamakanga@plan- 

Plan Regional Office of the Americas 
Building 112, Ciudad del Saber 
Clayton, Apartado 0819-05571 

Republica de Panama 
Tel: +507 317 1700 

Plan - West Africa Regional Office 

Immeuble Seydi Djamil 

Av. Cheikh Anta Diop x Rue Leo Frobenius 

Fann Residence 



PO Box: 21121 

Tel: +221 33 869 74 30 


Plan EU Office 
Galerie Ravenstein 27/4 
1000 Brussels 

Tel: +32-2-504-6050 

Plan UN Liaison and Advocacy Office 

Rue de Varembe 1 

CH-1202 Geneva 


Tel: +41-22-919 71 21 







Plan International Office to the United Nations 
211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1902 New York 
NY 10017 

Tel: +1-917-398 0018 
Email: fiyola.hoosen-steele@plan- 

African Union Liaison and Pan Africa 

Programme Office 
Plan International 
P.O. Box 5696 
Addis Ababa 

Email: Chikezie.anyanwu@plan- 

Plan International Australia 
Level 18, 60 City Road 
Southbank VIC 3006 

Tel: +61-(0)3-9672-3600 

Plan Belgium 

Galerie Ravenstein 3 Bus 5 

1000 Brussels 


Tel: +32 (0)2 504 60 00 
Email: info@ 

Plan Canada 

95 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 1001 

Toronto, Ontario 



Tel: +1 416-920-1654 

Plan Denmark 
Borgergade 10, 2. sal tv. 
1300 Copenhagen K 

Tel: +45-35-300800 


Plan Finland 

Kumpulantie 3, 6th floor 
00520 Helsinki 

Tel: +358-9-6869-800 

Plan France 

11, rue de Cambrai 

75019 Paris 


Tel: +33- 

Plan Germany 
Bramfelder Strasse 70 
D-22305 Hamburg 

Tel: +49-40-611400 


Plan International Hong Kong 

Room 1104, 11/F 

Cameron Commercial Centre 

458 Hennessy Road 

Causeway Bay 

Hong Kong 

Tel: +852 3405 5300 


Plan Ireland 

126 Lower Baggot Street 

Dublin 2 


Tel: +353-1-6599601 


Plan Japan 

11 F Sun Towers Center Building 

2-11-22 Sangenjaya 


Tokyo 154-8545 


Tel: +81-3-5481-0030 

Plan Korea 

2nd Floor, Cheongwoo BD, 58-4 

Samsung-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 

Korea 135-870 

Tel: +82-2-790-5436 


Plan Netherlands 

Van Boshuizenstraat 12 

1083 BA, Amsterdam 


Tel: +31-20-549 5520 


Plan Norway 
TullinsGate 4C 
Postboks 1 St. Olavs Plass 
0130 Oslo, Norway 
Tel: +47-22-031600 

Plan Spain 
C/ PantojalO 
28002 Madrid 

Tel: +34-91-5241222 

Plan Sweden 

Box 92150, Textilgatan 43 
SE -120 08, Stockholm 

Tel: +46-8-58 77 55 00 

Plan Switzerland 

Badenerstrasse 580 

CH - 8048 Zurich 


Tel: +41 44 288 90 50 


Plan United Kingdom 

Finsgate, 5-7 Cranwood Street 

London EC1V9LH 

United Kingdom 

Tel: +44 (0)300 777 9777 


Plan USA 
155 Plan Way 

Warwick, Rhode Island 02886-1099 

Tel: +1-401-7385600 



About Plan International 

Plan is one of the oldest and largest international development agencies in the world. Founded 
in 1937 to provide relief to children caught up in the Spanish Civil War, we celebrate our 75th 
anniversary in 2012. We work in 68 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the 
Americas. Plan directly supports more than 1.5 million children and their families, and indirectly 
supports an estimated further nine million people who live in communities that are working 
with Plan. We make long-term commitments to children in poverty and assist as many children 
as possible, by working in partnerships and alliance with them, their families, communities, civil 
society and government, building productive relationships and enabling their voices to be heard 
and recognised in issues that affect them. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or 
governmental affiliations. 

Plan has a vision: a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that respect 
people's rights and dignity. Today, hundreds of millions of children remain without their rights. 
We believe this is totally unacceptable. Our strategy explains how Plan is going to address those 
wrongs and work towards enabling every child to have rights and opportunities. 

Plan's strategy to 2015 has one goal: to reach as many children as possible, particularly those who 
are excluded or marginalised, with high-quality programmes that deliver long-lasting benefits. 

Getting there will not be easy but we know it can be done. It will require focus, dedication 
and attention to detail. It also requires us to build on what we do best, and not be afraid to 
modernise less effective practices. The strategy focuses, therefore, on areas that will have the 
biggest impact in driving us towards our one goal. 

We will: 

• Increase the number of individual and institutional supporters from existing and new 
fundraising countries; 

• Improve our policies, systems and processes; 

• Collaborate more strategically with other organisations. 

There is also a bigger ambition to take into account. In the process of delivering this strategy, we 
are determined to become one Plan, a more effective, efficient and collaborative organisation 
whose individual parts are all striving towards our one goal.