The World Bank Group (WBG) and Adolescent Girls’ Education Factsheet

April 13, 2016

Access to education for adolescent girls

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)#4 calls for access to quality education and lifelong learning for all; while SDG#5 is to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. Education for adolescent girls is critical in countries striving to reach these goals.
  • An estimated 62 million girls globally are out of school, of whom half are adolescents. Sixteen million girls between the ages six and 11 will never start school, compared to eight million boys.
  • At the primary level, 23 percent of low-income countries (LICs) have achieved gender parity. At the secondary level, only 15 percent of LICs have achieved gender parity.
  • The two developing regions with the most number of adolescent girls out of school are South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In South Asia, 12.6 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2012; in Sub-Saharan Africa, this number was 11.8 million.
  • Over the period 2011-2020, more than 140 million girls will have become child brides, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Many will drop out of school.
  • Ongoing WBG/International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) analysis on the cost of child marriage suggests that child marriage has very large negative impacts on fertility, education and earnings, and child health among others.
  • In Latin America, when women’s participation in the labor market increased 15 percent in just one decade, the rate of poverty decreased by 30 percent.

The World Bank Group’s Commitment to Adolescent Girls’ Education

  • Educating adolescent girls delivers broad gains to families, societies and economies. Given labor market opportunities, an increase of just 1 percent in the share of women who have completed secondary school can increase per capita income growth by 0.3 percent.
  • The WBG is investing $2.5 billion over the next 5 years in education projects that include adolescent girls (aged 12-17) as direct beneficiaries.
  • About 75% of this investment will be in low-income countries, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, served by IDA, the WBG’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.
  • The WBG carries out both financing and analytical work in support of adolescent girls, including on delaying child marriage, removing financial barriers keeping girls out of school, improving access to reproductive health services, and strengthening skills and job opportunities for adolescent girls and young women.
  • Analysis suggests that the economic benefits of ending child marriage are high. Just in Niger, the benefits simply from reduced fertility could reach US$ 19 billion in purchasing power parity terms between 2014 and 2030. Worldwide, these benefits would be extremely large and would accrue mainly to the poor.
  • The WBG’s holistic, multidimensional approach is outlined in our new global strategy for gender equality.

Examples of WBG results for adolescent girls’ education:

  • In Bangladesh, the Female Secondary School Stipend Projects I & II (1994-2008) helped the country reach and exceed gender parity in secondary education. Gender parity at this level rose dramatically from 0.83 in 1994 to 1.13 in 2008. Investments included stipends for girls enrolled in secondary school (conditional on school attendance and performance), separate toilets for girls, and clean drinking water in schools.
  • In India, the $500 million nationwide Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan project, supported by IDA, has helped raise secondary enrollment, with 4.3 million more girls enrolled since 2012-13. Girls are now better represented than boys, with the gender parity index going up from 0.88 in 2009/10 to 1.01 in 2014/15. Measures supported nationally were financial incentives for girls from disadvantaged communities, putting in separate toilets in schools for girls, and building hostels for girls from remote areas. States have also innovated further.
  • In Nigeria’s Kaduna State, Junior Secondary School completion rates for girls increased fivefold from seven percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2011, the lifetime of the State Education Sector Project. The project targeted girls from low-income communities in Kaduna’s rural areas.
  • In Yemen, the Secondary Education Development for Girls Access project contributed to major gains in five governorates. The Gender Parity Index in secondary gross enrollment went up from 0.43 to 0.63; and the retention rate of girls in Grade 10-12 rose from 78 to 85 percent.


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