As we commemorate the International Day of the Girl each year on October 11th, let's emphasize the transformative power of education for Health and Well-Being in empowering girls and nurturing their health.
What are the main trends on girls’ education?
New UNESCO data reveals that 50 million more girls have been enrolled in school globally since 2015. The latest calculations by the Global Education Monitoring Report show that there are also 5 million more girls completing each level of education from primary to upper secondary education. This progress calls on efforts to double down in the remaining years to 2030 as there are 122 million girls still out-of-school around the world today. Completion rates of girls increased from 86% to 89% in primary education, from 74% to 79% in lower secondary and 54% to 61% in upper secondary education. That means that 5 million more girls are completing each level of education from primary to upper secondary education now than there were in 2015.
Where are most of the out-of-school girls?
In sub-Saharan Africa, girls remain far less likely to go to school at any education level. Over half of all children out of primary and secondary school are in Africa. While the situation of girls and young women has improved dramatically overall, some remain trapped in pockets of disadvantage due to location and poverty but also due to other social and cultural characteristics. Education empowers girls. Additionally to the knowledge acquired in schools, education is a catalyst for personal growth, self-esteem, and a sense of purpose. Furthermore, education opens doors to economic opportunities. Educated girls are more likely to find stable employment, enhancing their financial independence and overall well-being. This economic empowerment translates into a better quality of life for themselves and their families, breaking the cycle of poverty.
Why focus on education for health and well-being?
Children and young people who receive a good quality education are more likely to be healthy, and likewise those who are healthy are better able to learn. The link between education to health and well-being is clear. Education develops the skills, values and attitudes that enable learners to lead healthy and fulfilled lives, make informed decisions, and engage in positive relationships with everyone around them. Poor health can have a detrimental effect on school attendance and academic performance. . Statistics show that higher levels of education among mothers improve children’s nutrition and vaccination rates, while reducing preventable child deaths, maternal mortality and HIV infections. Maternal deaths would be reduced by two thirds, saving 98,000 lives, if all girls completed primary education. There would be two‑thirds fewer child marriages, and an increase in modern contraceptive use, if all girls completed secondary education.
How is UNESCO advancing learners’ health and well-being for school and life?
UNESCO has a long-standing commitment to improve health and education outcomes for learners. Guided by the UNESCO Strategy on Education for Health and Well-Being, UNESCO envisions a world where learners thrive and works across three priority areas to ensure all learners are empowered through: school systems that promote their physical and mental health and well-being; quality, gender-transformative comprehensive sexuality education that includes HIV, life skills, family and rights; and safe and inclusive learning environments free from all forms of violence, bullying, stigma and discrimination. Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is widely recognised as a key intervention to advance gender equality, healthy relationships and sexual and reproductive health, all of which have been shown to positively improve education and health outcomes for girls and boys.
Education for Health and Well-Being: Empowering Girls on International Day of the Girl
On this International Day of the Girl, it is essential to recognise the pivotal role that education plays in empowering girls, nurturing their health, and promoting their overall well-being. Education for Health and Well-Being is an important tool for girls around the world, especially in Africa. Ensuring that girls have access to quality education, we equip them with the tools to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives and become active agents of change in their communities and the world at large. Investing in girls' education is an investment in a brighter, more equitable, and prosperous future for all. As we commemorate this day, let us renew our commitment to providing girls with the education and opportunities they need to thrive, achieve their dreams, and contribute to a better world.
Did you know?
Nearly 1 in 5 girls are still not completing lower-secondary and nearly 4 in 10 girls are not completing upper-secondary school today.
Globally, girls aged 5-14 spend 160 million more hours every day on unpaid care and domestic work than boys of the same age.
Adolescent girls continue to account for 3 in 4 new HIV infections among adolescents.
Nearly 1 in 4 married/partnered adolescent girls aged 15-19 have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.