Today the UN Foundation blog continues our series, “5 Days, 5 Facts, 5 Reasons to Act” with a focus on girls’ education.



If we want to drive progress in the world, we need to make sure girls are in the driver’s seat of their own lives.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has written, “There is no more valuable investment than in a girl’s education.” Here’s why: When girls are educated, they are more likely to marry later, have healthier children, and earn a higher income, which they invest in their families – helping to break the cycle of poverty. Fundamentally, education is the right of every child, girl or boy.

The good news: According to the latest report on the Millennium Development Goals, “In 2012, all developing regions achieved, or were close to achieving, gender parity in primary education.”

The bad news: We still have further to go to make sure every girl can learn, especially as she advances into secondary school and beyond. Right now, more than 60 million girls are out of school. Poverty, discrimination, and conflict keep many girls from school. And in too many communities, girls are forced to marry young, drop out of school, and work in the home.

As we mark one year since the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls in Nigeria, we are tragically reminded that we have much, much more work to do to make sure girls are safe, educated, and healthy.

The UN, the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and many other partners are working to break down barriers to realize a world where every girl can go to school, get a quality education, and follow her dreams. We hope you join the movement. By educating girls, we can change the world.


Nasttho in her classroom at the Sheder refugee camp. Photo credit: © UNHCR/J.Ose.

Meet Nasttho. In October 2009, she and her family fled Somalia to escape the violence engulfing her community. As they escaped, the family became separated, and Nasttho has to help care for her siblings since she does not know what happened to her mother.

Nasttho resides in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Girl Up campaign support her education. Nasttho has done well in school.

“Education is the thing that will help change our lives,” she said. Through UNHCR, Girl Up is helping provide girls like Nasttho with school supplies such as uniforms, backpacks, and solar lamps to study at night.

Nasttho has big plans for the future: “I would like to be a doctor as I think this is the best way to help my people. I hope and want all Somali girls and women to learn and study and go onto university. Males and females are equal and education will help show this. Maybe if we are all educated we can change the future of our country.”