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  • Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; complete all levels of education with the skills to effectively compete in the labor market; learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.

    Girls’ education is a strategic development priority. Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty.

    According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom.

    Poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl can access an education. For example, in Nigeria, only 4 percent of poor young women in the North West zone can read, compared with 99 percent of rich young women in the South East. Studies consistently reinforce that girls who face multiple disadvantages — such as low family income, living in remote or underserved locations, disability or belonging to a minority ethno-linguistic group — are farthest behind in terms of access to and completion of education.

    Violence also negatively impacts access to education and a safe environment for learning. For example, in Haiti, recent research highlights that one in three Haitian women (ages 15 to 49) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence, and that of women who received money for sex before turning 18 years old, 27 percent reported schools to be the most common location for solicitation.

    Child marriage is also a critical challenge. Child brides are much more likely to drop out of school and complete fewer years of education than their peers who marry later. This affects the education and health of their children, as well as their ability to earn a living. According to a recent report, more than 41,000 girls under the age of 18 marry every day and putting an end to the practice would increase women’s expected educational attainment, and with it, their potential earnings. According to estimates, ending child marriage could generate more than $500 billion in benefits annually each year

    Every day, girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence, and fragility. The WBG has joined with governments, civil society organizations, multilateral organization, the private sector, and donors to advance multi-sectoral approaches to overcome these challenges. Working together with girls and women, the WBG focus includes:

    • Providing conditional cash transfers, stipends or scholarships;
    • Reducing distance to school;
    • Targeting boys and men to be a part of discussions about cultural and societal practices;
    • Ensuring gender-sensitive curricula and pedagogies;
    • Hiring and training qualified female teachers;
    • Building safe and inclusive learning environments for girls and young women;
    • Ending child/early marriage; and
    • Addressing violence against girls and women.

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017

  • Girls’ education and promoting gender equality is part of a broader, holistic effort by the World Bank Group (WBG). It includes ensuring that girls do not suffer disproportionately in poor and vulnerable households—especially during times of crisis—and advancing skills and job opportunities for adolescent girls and young women. In addition, it covers financing and analytical work in support of ending child marriage, removing financial barriers that keep girls out of school, improving access to reproductive health services, and preventing gender-based violence.

    Gender equality is central to the WBG’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. No society can develop sustainably without transforming the distribution of opportunities, resources, and choices for men and women so that they have equal power to shape their own lives and contribute to their families, communities, and countries.

    Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, United Nations member states committed to a renewed framework for development. The achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (SDG 5) is central to the SDG agenda.

    The WBG is a partner and one of many stakeholders in the international drive, reinforced by adoption of the SDGs, to improve gender equality and empower girls and women. This commitment to action is captured in the WBG’s Gender Strategy 2016 - 2023Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth and Education Strategy 2020Learning for All.

    In April 2016, WBG President Jim Yong Kim made the commitment to invest $2.5 billion over five years through education projects that directly benefit adolescent girls. The WBG has already invested in several projects that foster positive change through the education and empowerment of adolescent girls.

    The WBG recognizes that in order to fully realize the benefits of educating girls and women, countries need to address the multiple sources of disadvantage that many girls and women face, including cultural biases and access to economic and social opportunities, as well as services, such as health care.

    The WBG is leading these efforts by working with countries to design projects that tackle gender equality, and furthering the global evidence base of “what works.”

    Examples of the WBG’s commitment to gender equality include situation analysis on keeping girls in school in Zambia and Malawi to supporting Syrian refugee girls to attend school in Lebanon, and providing school tuition vouchers for vulnerable adolescent girls in Punjab, Pakistan.

    Reports across the WBG are also informing girls’ education activities and engagement. In Liberia, a partnership with the Africa Gender Innovation Lab is supporting an impact evaluation of the International Rescue Committee’s Sisters of Success, which aims to reduce school dropout and teen pregnancy rates through a woman’s mentorship program. 

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017

  • The WBG supports girls’ education through a variety of interventions. These include stipends to improve primary and secondary school completion for girls and young women, skills development programs, gender-inclusive and responsive teaching and learning, recruitment and training of female teachers, and building safe and inclusive schools for girls and young women. 

    Recent World Bank Group projects have supported the following results:

    • Bangladesh: 1.24 million girls in 6,700 secondary schools have benefitted from the Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project.
    • Ghana: Under the Secondary Education Improvement Project, 3,450 senior high school girls (ages 15-17) are currently benefiting from scholarships, which pay for their tuition and provide other items, including books and uniforms, required to enable them to complete three years of senior high school education.
    • Pakistan: The first and second Punjab Education Sector Projects supported tuition vouchers for 150,000 vulnerable adolescent girls in the Punjab with low access to schooling, as well as cash stipends for 400,000 girls in low literacy areas to encourage secondary school attendance. This resulted in a nine percent increase in girls’ enrollment in secondary public schools.
    • Nigeria: In Kaduna State, Junior Secondary School completion rates for girls increased from 7 percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2011, the lifetime of the State Education Sector Project.

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017

  • The WBG works closely with governments and other development organizations on girls’ education issues to identify and advance interventions that improve girls’ education outcomes and provide resources to support countries implementing such initiatives.

    It is a member of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), which comprises over 20 partners representing multilateral, bilateral, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.

    Since 2002, the WBG has also worked closely with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It supports the partnership in general, as a Board Member, host of the GPE Secretariat, trustee and grant agent for the vast majority of GPE grants.

    The GPE and UNGEI published the “Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans,” report which aims to inform governments and the development community more broadly to identify critical gender disparities and the factors contributing to them while channeling insights into country’s education sector plans.

    The WBG also collaborated with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to produce Economic Impacts of Child Marriage, a recent report detailing the effects of child marriage, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and GPE.

    Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017

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