War is Driving Girls Out of School

War is Driving Girls Out of SchoolHeather Barr, Human Rights Watch’s Women’s Rights Division

““There were two bombs in the school,” said 16-year-old Malalai, describing an attack in January 2016 against her girls’ school in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. She said the Taliban had left a letter in the schoolyard: “They said they put the bombs because you haveto stop sending your girls to school.” Acid attacks. Kidnapping. “Night letters” threatening students and teachers. Improvised explosive devices. Gunfire. Schools closed for girls above fifth grade. Insurgents censoring the curriculum. Girls’ schools closed completely.

These are just some of the barriers girls in Afghanistan face in trying to get an education. Afghanistan is one of at least 10 countries that has faced targeted attacks against girls’ education in recent years. …”

Read the full article here.




International Day of the Girl Child 2017

Again we need more than a day -but for raising awareness that leads to action, it is still worth celebrating:

Check out UBONGO kids from Tanzania:

While women currently make up over 50% of the labour force in Africa, they have very little control over the capital and resources on the continent. Moreover, in places like Tanzania, a higher percentage of girls complete primary school education than boys, but less of them graduate from high school and go on to receive a university degree. It is clear that there is a disparity between the capabilities of women and girls, and the opportunities afforded to them by society.

Recently, Ubongo’s research team went out to Lake Nakuru (Kenya), Mwanza and Shinyanga (both in Tanzania), to speak to adolescent girls (aged 10-14) and their parents about their ambitions and challenges in life. We were especially interested in learning about girls’ knowledge and perception of money, in order to deduce what skills they needed to learn to improve their financial literacy and gain better control over their resources. This ongoing project was undertaken in collaboration with SPRING, an organization that works with innovative companies which help transform the lives of adolescent girls living in East Africa and South Asia.

Today, as people across the world celebrate girls and address the key challenges to their development, we’d like to share with you five things we learned from the girls we met in Tanzania and Kenya.

Here are 5 things we learned:

  1. All the girls we spoke to expressed their ambition of achieving professional careers such as being; doctors, lawyers, pilots and that education was the key to achieving these ambitions

  2. Girls identified with female role models such as; their mother, aunt, local politicians and described their role models as hardworking, caring and ambitious

  3. Girls were in agreement that items they “want” rather than “need” should be purchased through their own savings

  4. Girls still desired the involvement of parents in financial decision making and parents cited the need for additional support in educating their daughters about financial literacy

  5. Parents desire girls to learn basic business concepts that involve allocation of capital expenses and reinvesting in diverse business ventures

With this information, we plan to create new episodes of Ubongo Kids that teach kids, and girls in particular, about saving, earning and budgeting. Moreover, we hope to be able to share this content with the millions of girls in emergency and crisis situations through our Ubongo Learn Anywhere Kits.

There is a lot more that we are planning, and we thank you for all the support you’ve shown us and the millions of girls across Africa that we reach through our content.

In the meantime, watch this inspiring song that we created especially for today to celebrate just how amazing girls are!

Girls’ education

During the last few years I have been working on aspects of Girls’ education in Zambia and Tanzania. We know the importance of a focus of attention on girls education for the future of any country so as to overcome discrimination and to enhance  human potential of the whole nation.

Why a focus on girls?

Two-thirds of the world’s uneducated children are girls, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. Around the world, girls and women continue to suffer from a lack of economic opportunity, inadequate health care and education, early marriage, sexual violence, and discrimination.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that educating women and girls is the single most effective strategy to ensure the well-being and health of children, and the long-term success of developing economies.

There are many benefits associated with girls’ education, such as:

Reduction of child and maternal mortality

Improvement of child nutrition and health

Lower birth rates

Enhancement of women’s domestic role and their political participation.

In education, a focus on the quality of education of girls ensures an improvement in the quality of education for all students.

Some new posts from the INEE newsletter:

Community-Supported Models for Girls’ Education in Diverse Contexts in Pakistan


This paper presents the case for promoting girls’ education in the challenging contexts of remoteness, social conservatism, fragility, and severe financial hardship by providing localized services delivered through community-supported initiatives, contextualized approaches, and flexible strategies. This argument draws from the latest literature on community-supported education, barriers to girls’ education, and the role of nongovernmental actors, as well as the author’s research on three community-supported schooling models in three different contexts in Pakistan: 1) in a state of fragility; 2) in a socially conservative area experiencing social resistance to girls’ education; and 3) in an urban slum area.


WASH in Schools for Girls E-Course 
UNICEF, UNGEI, Emory University, Govt. Of Canada

The WinS4Girls E-Course was developed and delivered as part of the project ‘WASH in Schools for Girls: Advocacy and Capacity Building for MHM through WASH in Schools Programmes’ (WinS4Girls Project), which is being funded by the Government of Canada. In recognition of the positive impact on girls’ education, initiatives around the world are addressing adolescent girls’ menstrual hygiene management (MHM) needs in coordination with ongoing efforts to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and services in schools. By offering an alternative to the stigma and marginalization often associated with menstruation, integrating MHM into WASH in Schools (WinS) empowers all students, especially girls.

Click here to download the publication.

Girls’ Education – – today’s challenges

Today’s challenges for girls’ education 
Brookings, Elizabeth King and Rebecca Winthrop

Educating a girl is one of the best investments her family, community, and country can make. We know that a good quality education can be life-changing for girls, boys, young women, and men, helping them develop to their full potential and putting them on a path for success in their life. We also know that educating a girl in particular can kick-start a virtuous circle of development. More educated girls, for example, marry later, have healthier children, earn more money that they invest back into their families and communities, and play more active roles in leading their communities and countries.

Over the last 25 years, there have been large gains in girls’ education, and we as a global community can congratulate ourselves for the real progress that has been made. This demonstrates that with shared goals and collective action—among governments, international organizations, civil society, media, and the private sector—we can change the educational prospects for girls around the world.

Click to read more and download this paper.

International Women’s Day 2015 – what’s happening?

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme:


All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for the internationalwomensday.com global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.


This Day aims to highlight the importance of creating conditions for the elimination of discrimination against women and for their full and equal participation in social development.

If these are some of the aims  – we really need to look towards education in its boradest sense to make any headway. At present it seems we are just trying to catch up – to close the gender gap that exists. But what about looking to the future? Starting with parents who are just having children and already discriminating between the girl and boy child.Look at the toys that are on offer in the ‘Western’ world – there seems to be a stronger push towards pink for girls and blue for boys along with the difference between ‘home’ toys and guns and war toys. And when they start school – there is still an achievement gap in many countries between boys and girls and of course, if you poor and a girl, then the odds stack up against you. Even in the UK when I was teaching, parents of girls would often state, when their daughter had not done so well in maths,  -‘leave that to the boys, they are better at maths!’ With that self fulfilling prophecy the boys tended to do better, but it was not just to do with innate ability -girls were not trying!

So on this International Women’s Day -think about the future of women and start with educating  the youngest.

Women Deliver ” 15 Journalists, 15 Voices for Girls & Women

www.womendeliver.org – Each year, Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring people, organizations and innovations that are delivering for girls and women. This year, we are excited to celebrate 15 journalists from around the world who are advocating for and advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. More 


When we talk about ‘making it happen’
Here is some celebratory news about girls in Malawi who are really making it happen:

How girl activists helped to ban child marriage in Malawi

Malawi has raised the legal marrying age from 15 to 18.

Malawi’s Stop Child Marriage campaign was launched in 2011 by the Girls Empowerment Network and Let Girls Lead on the principle of empowering girls to fight for their own rights. We trained over 200 girls in the Chiradzulo District of southern Malawi to become advocates. The girls lobbied 60 village chiefs to ratify and enact by-laws that protect adolescent girls from early marriage and harmful sexual initiation practices. These bylaws force men who marry girls under the age of 21 to give up their land in the village and pay a fee of seven goats, a major economic penalty in the region.

Overcoming deeply held cultural beliefs and traditions will not be easy, especially in outlying rural districts impenetrable by communications from the capital. Local, on the ground education campaigns will be key to disseminating information about the new law and building broad-based support for girls’ rights. In addition, while the new law and penal code mandate a minimum age of 18 for marriage, girls as young as 16 can still marry with parental consent. Civil society leaders are pushing for the removal of this loophole, arguing that “parental consent” is too often easily obtained when poor families have too many daughters to feed.

Yet even with these limitations, the new law does provide girls with a voice and power – tangible leverage that girls and advocates alike can use to resist child marriage. The new law also gives sharper teeth to watchdog efforts, enforcement, and the rescue of child brides. In March, advocates from around the world will converge in New York during the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Civil society leaders will celebrate Malawi’s landmark victory for girls, and call upon global decision makers to prioritise girls’ health and education in the post-2015 development process.

One of these powerful advocates is Memory Banda, an 18-year-old Malawian girl. When her younger sister was married aged 11 to a man in his early thirties, Memory promised herself that she would fight for girls’ rights. She went on to finish school and help lead the campaign to pass Malawi’s new law to end child marriage. Memory’s sister, on the other hand, is now 16 years old and has three children.

Memory will raise her voice at the UN to advocate for girls like her sister and for the 70 million more girls around the world who were married as children. “My hope is that global leaders will understand that we girls are powerful leaders of change,” she says. “Marriage is often the end for girls like me. But if our leaders will invest in us and give us the chance to be educated, we will become women who create a better society for everyone.”

Denise Dunning is the executive director and founder of Let Girls Lead and Joyce Mkandawire is co-founder of Genet. (Published in the Guardian).

For further information about plans for International Women’s Day each year, visit the UN International Women’s Day web pages or the separate International Women’s Day website.

Some other groups who are celebrating International Women’s Day:

Conciliation Resources




Cultural Survival


From March 9 to 20, 2015, thousands of women will be meeting in New York City for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) at the United Nations. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations will be gathering to evaluate the progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was originally adopted 20 years ago in 1995.

and Camfed

Check out Doreen the film maker:


Invest in Girls’ Education

I have often written paragraphs decsribing the benefits of girls’ education -the new UNGEI infographic is a quick visual reminder of those benefits:

Infographic: Invest in Girls’ Education

UNGEI has created an infographic about the importance of investing in girls’ education.

To download the infographic, please click here.

Commission on the Status of Women – 58th session, 2014. Girls Education

CSW58_web_banner_244w jpg

Girls education is still high on the agenda for many development partners, and it is understandable given the scale of disadvantage girls in many countries are still facing. The present CSW 58 will prioritise access and participation in education, as listed below.

One ‘side’ event (Nordic Council of Ministers)  -highlighted the plight:

At UN Women, we recognize the power and the indispensable nature of education and training for girls and young women.

The recently released UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report highlights the important role of education in advancing gender equality and overall development.

It also tells a worrying story.

We see that universal primary education is likely to be missed by a wide margin:

  • The number of children out of school was 57 million in 2011, half of whom lived in conflict-affected countries.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, only 23 per cent of poor girls in rural areas were completing primary education by the end of the decade.
  • If recent trends in the region continue, the richest boys will achieve universal primary completion in 2021, but the poorest girls will not catch up until 2086.

We see that many adolescents lack foundation skills gained through lower secondary education:

  • In 2011, 69 million adolescents were out of school, with little improvement to this number since 2004.
  • In low-income countries, only 37 per cent of adolescents complete lower secondary education. This rate is as low as 14 per cent for the poorest.
  • On recent trends, girls from the poorest families in sub-Saharan Africa are only expected to achieve lower secondary completion in 2111.

We see that adult literacy has hardly improved:

  • In 2011, there were 774 million illiterate adults, a decline of just 1 per cent since 2000. The number is projected to fall only slightly, to 743 million, by 2015.
  • Almost two-thirds of illiterate adults are women. The poorest young women in developing countries may not achieve universal literacy until 2072.

We see that gender disparities remain in many countries:

  • Even though gender parity was supposed to be achieved by 2005, in 2011 only 60 per cent of countries had achieved this goal at the primary level and 38 per cent at the secondary level.

We know that poor quality of education means millions of children are not learning the basics.

  • Around 250 million children are not learning basic skills, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school. The annual cost of this failure is around USD $129 billion.
  • Investing in teachers is key: in around a third of countries, less than 75 per cent of primary school teachers are trained according to national standards. And in a third of countries, the challenge of training existing teachers is worse than that of recruiting and training new teachers.

We can and we must do better. So I hope we will focus on how we are going to do that today during our discussions.

Together must do more to reverse this trajectory.

We will not get far if we stop at giving girls primary education. We must provide opportunities and options for them to go higher – as far as they wish to go.

We will work through the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, and other initiatives and programmes, to ensure that girls everywhere have, not only an opportunity to enrol in primary school, but to progress to secondary, tertiary and vocational levels.

– See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/3/remarks-by-ed-at-the-nordic-council-of-ministers-side-event#sthash.UL7QbxmJ.dpuf

The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014.


Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attend the session. Read the NGO advisories.


Priority theme:

Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls

The draft agreed conclusions are now available.

Review theme:

Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work (agreed conclusions from the fifty-fifth session)

Emerging issue:

Women’s access to productive resources

Organization of the session

In accordance with its multi-year programme of work (ECOSOC resolution 2009/15), the Commission’s two-week session includes the following activities:

– See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw58-2014#sthash.vAyuxBWd.dpuf

More on girls education:



Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

Where are we?

Chart on MDG2 - factors keeping kids out of school

Source: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 p. 15

Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 90 per cent in 2011, up from 82 per cent in 1999, which means more children than ever are attending primary school. But even as countries with the toughest challenges have advanced, progress on primary school enrolment has slowed since 2004, dimming hopes for achieving universal primary education by 2015.

Across 63 developing countries, girls were more likely to be out of school than boys among both primary and lower secondary age groups. The gender gap in school attendance widens in lower secondary education, even for girls living in better-off households.

UN Women’s efforts:

UN Women focuses action on girls’ school completion rates and improving school conditions for girls, i.e. the environment that makes it conducive for girls to attend schools. From making roads and public transport safer through the Safe Cities Initiative, to addressing the lack of female teachers as role models, to the lack of separate sanitation facilities, and school fees continuing to be deciding factors for whether a girl goes to school, UN Women works to focus on these issues.

Reports show mothers with at least a few years of formal education are considerably more likely to send their children to school. UN Women works to advance women’s empowerment through education and economic opportunities, which facilitate greater decision-making by women in their household, including the decision to send children to school. UN Women also works on campaigns that address attitudes and behaviours, including concerns about female modesty, safety, and the lack of economic returns to girls’ education, factors which often hamper girls’ school attendance.

– See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/~/link.aspx?_id=7C18F70B720847AE862DE2921CC87F3E&_z=z#sthash.1a9Yf2AA.dpuf


In Afghanistan, women and girls strive to get an education

Date: 09 July 2013

“Educating women and girls and women’s empowerment in our community is my dream,” says Beheshta, a 20-year-old Afghan girl who recently completed classes offered by the UN Women-supported Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Centre in Parwan Province, northeastern Afghanistan.

Girls study at the Sultan Razia High School in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province. (Photo: UN Photo/Shehzad Noorani)

Girls study at the Sultan Razia High School in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province. (Photo: UN Photo/Shehzad Noorani)

Education is often not an option for many women and girls in Afghanistan. According to Government figures, only 26 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women the rate is only 12 per cent.[1] Among school age children, 38 per cent (4.2 million in real numbers) do not have access to schools, most of which are girls.[2]

Attacks by insurgents who oppose women’s education lead to regular closures of girls’ schools.[3] Moreover, 50 per cent of schools do not have buildings and other necessities, and a dearth of textbooks, teaching materials and equipped laboratories, along with the large number of school closures or relocations directly affects the quality of education.[4]

After graduating from high school, Beheshta wanted to pursue a higher education in a government university, but she did not pass the kankor, or entrance exam.

Every year, more than 100,000 secondary school graduates write the kankor, but due to insufficient spaces and limited capacity, only about half of those students find a spot at the government universities and colleges. Those who fail either go to private institutions, which are very expensive and out of reach for most Afghan families, or try to pass the entrance exam again.

Beheshta’s parents were not able to pay for her education in a private institute, so, when she had the opportunity to join the English language class at the ICT Centre she saw it as a second chance.

Opened in 2011, the key objective of the UN-Women-sponsored Women’s ICT Centre in Parwan is to enable women’s economic participation through training in the English language and computer skills. The Centre also provides job placement support for graduates in private schools, with NGOs, municipalities or the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs.

Beheshta successfully completed the course, along with about 80 other girls, and is currently teaching English to new students and members of her own community, in the same ICT Centre where she studied.

Beheshta is currently teaching English to new students in the same ICT Centre where she studied in Parwan Province. (Photo: UN Women/Fahim Akbari)

Beheshta is currently teaching English to new students in the same ICT Centre where she studied in Parwan Province. (Photo: UN Women/Fahim Akbari)

“It seemed to me like a fairy tale that I would get a job and earn money for my family while supporting women and girls as a whole,” she says proudly.

While Beheshta’s story and the barriers in accessing primary and higher education is a familiar one in Afghanistan, some progress is evident. The country became Party to the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the Women’s Bill of Rights, on 5 March 2003 and Afghanistan is currently preparing for the CEDAW Committee’s review of its first-ever periodic report on 10 July 2013.

The Afghan Government was supported by UN Women in the process of drafting the report.

According to that first periodic report, the percentage of women in universities is increasing year-by-year – reaching 20 per cent of the university population in 2006, and 24.8 per cent by 2009.[5] The report states that the last eight years have also seen a “tremendous increase in the overall number of educational institutions in the country and women have benefited substantially.”[6] It specifically mentions English language courses, computer classes, and preparation classes for university entrance exams provided by private educational institutions.

The report highlights progress and challenges in several areas, including the lack of security and violence against women as the single most important challenge to the country’s implementation of CEDAW. On the issue of education, the report underlines that much work is still needed. It mentions various strategies for education, especially for women, and says the establishment, promotion and construction of buildings for girls’ schools are at the top of the priority list for the Ministry of Education. To increase the number of female students in professional and technical education schools, the Ministry also plans to run public awareness programmes in media.

Accompanying the Government’s report is the Civil Society Shadow Report, by the Afghan Women’s Network, which was submitted to the CEDAW Committee in April 2013. UN Women also provided support for that report, which among other recommendations urges the Government to develop programmes that will help girls prepare for university entrance exams and overcome key barriers and challenges that women encounter when trying to find work, such as traditional beliefs about women’s roles as mothers rather than breadwinners.

Meanwhile, speaking about the long journey towards women and girl’s education, Beheshta says: “I am aware that it takes a long time but I’m hopeful to see this happen and be part of this valued process.”

– See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/7/afghani-women-strive-to-get-an-education#sthash.KDtGjAWs.dpuf