Twice as many girls as boys will never start school – according to new UNESCO report

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Almost 16 million girls between the ages six and 11 will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to about 8 million boys if current trends continue, according to a new report from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

Marcela Paz school. La Florida, Chile (Photo: UNESCO/Carolina Jerez)
Marcela Paz school. La Florida, Chile (Photo: UNESCO/Carolina Jerez)

In the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, the UNESCO eAtlas of Gender Inequality in Education  shows that girls are still the first to be denied the right to education despite all the efforts and progress made over the past 20 years.

“We will never achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals without overcoming the discrimination and poverty that stunt the lives of girls and women from one generation to the next,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “We must work at all levels, from grassroots to global leaders, to put equity and inclusion at the heart of every policy so that all girls, whatever their circumstances, go to school, stay in school and become empowered citizens.”

The eAtlas of Gender Inequalities in Education shows gender gaps from primary to tertiary education using the latest available data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. With about 100 interactive maps and charts, the eAtlas shows the educational pathways of girls and boys in more than 200 countries and territories.

“We clearly see where the injustices begin and how they accumulate through the lives of the most marginalized girls and women,” said Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. “But the data also show that girls who do manage to start primary school and make the transition to secondary education tend to outperform boys and continue their studies.”

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