Girls' Education and Gender Equality

Girls' education and gender equality are central to GPE's vision of improved learning and equity for all, through stronger education systems by 2020.

Since 2000, good progress has been achieved to boost girls' enrollment in school. However, an estimated 131 million girls worldwide remain out of school and face multiple barriers to education. These include distance to school, cultural norms and practices, school-related gender-based violence and early or forced marriage. Boys and girls face barriers to getting a good education in conflict-affected areas where safety and security can be compromised and in households that depend on their labor or income.

Keeping girls in school and ensuring they can learn in a safe and supportive environment leads to many benefits for girls themselves, their families, their communities and societies.

Increasing gender equality is one of eight guiding principles of GPE 2020, the partnership’s strategic plan for 2016-2020. Achieving increased equity, gender equality, and inclusion is one of three strategic goals under this plan.

GPE mobilizes its partners to put gender equality at the heart of national education systems

Our results

  • 38 million additional girls were enrolled in school across GPE partner countries between 2002 and 2015

  • 74% of girls finished primary school in 2015 in GPE partner countries compared to 57% in 2002

  • 64% of GPE partner countries had as many girls as boys completing primary school in 2015

  • 48% of girls completed lower-secondary school in 2015 in GPE partner countries compared to 35% in 2002


GPE in action

A school girl holds a slate in Madagascar.

Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

GPE's Gender Equality Policy and Strategy 2016–2020 reflects a shift from a narrower focus on girls' education to gender equality more broadly, and includes areas where boys are disadvantaged, as well as gender issues concerning teachers, administrators and systems. Specifically, GPE supports gender equality in the following ways:

Gender-responsive education sector plans: GPE supports countries' efforts to develop, finance, and implement education sector plans that are gender-responsive. These plans include specific measures to reduce gender disparities, and make teaching and learning more responsive to the needs of both girls and boys. Improvements in the physical school environment such as separate toilets for girls and access to menstrual hygiene products are also included. Together with the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative GPE has developed guidelines to support gender-responsive education sector analysis and planning.

Provision of grants to partner countries for implementation of education sector plans that promote gender equality: At least 33 GPE program implementation grants totaling US$1.5 billion supplement domestic investments in gender equality.

Policy dialogue on gender equality led by national governments and inclusive of civil society and other partners, to foster strong mutual accountability.

Tackling school-related gender based violence (SRGBV): Recognizing the prevalence of SRGBV and its impact on girls' education, GPE has funded a global literature review on SRGBV and support to four countries (Ethiopia, Zambia, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire) to better understand the nature and incidence of SRGBV, examine effective approaches to address it and support countries' design strategies and interventions.

GPE also works with partners in other sectors, including health, to promote improved health outcomes and better learning.



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Learn the benefits of investing in girls' education, how GPE supports inclusive and equitable quality education, as well as the results it has achieved.
GPE supports country investments in more equitable and gender-responsive systems in order to improve outcomes in access, retention and learning for all girls and boys.
The Guidance has been designed to help deliver on the commitment of the Sustainable Development Goals and Education 2030 to achieve gender equality in education.