UNESCO Dakar/Anne Muller

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170  declaring 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

This year, the theme for the day is “Innovating for Girls’ Education”.

Despite remarkable gains in the last decade, millions of girls are still being denied their right to education:

  • 31 million girls of primary school age are out of school. Of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. There are 4 million fewer boys than girls out of school.
  • Three countries have over a million girls not in school: In Nigeria there are almost five and a half million, Pakistan, over three million, and in Ethiopia, over one million girls out of school.
  • There are also 34 million female adolescents out of school, missing out on the chance to learn vital skills for work and life.  

Unless we make quality education for all a priority, these girls will not acquire the skills they need to transition to young adulthood, secure stable employment, understand and exercise their rights as citizens, and continue learning throughout life.

Finally, girls who do not complete an education are more likely to join the ranks of the illiterate women that represent two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world.

“..we must focus where needs are greatest, we must help countries accelerate towards 2015, and we must shape a new agenda to follow. This agenda should build on achievements and tackle new challenges. This must start with education. There have been great advances in enrolment since 2000, but 57 million children remain out of school. We need a new goal for education – focusing on equity and quality, throughout life, especially for girls and women.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the General Assembly Special Event on MDGs, New York, 25 September 2013

With girls constituting the majority of out of school children, gender equality and girls’ education remain a central concern in initiatives undertaken under GEFI’s umbrella which aim to reach countries and groups left behind.

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