Through Their Eyes, In Their Voices

Young women in five countries share their experiences navigating tertiary education

In many parts of the world, it is uncommon for girls to finish secondary school, much less go on to university.  Yet, young women who achieve higher education can maximize their potential to fulfill leadership roles within their communities and transform the societies in which they live.

With support from The MasterCard Foundation, Room to Read, FHI 360 and Amenons Nos Filles á l’Ecole (ANFE) have produced a collaborative research study that investigates what life and educational factors help young women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in post-secondary education.  This partnership came about as a direct result of the Clinton Global Initiative.  Over a six-month period, the collaborating organizations interviewed 160 young women studying at the post-secondary level in Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India and Mauritania.  The resulting report provides critical information for organizations that hope to enable and improve young women's access to and completion of higher education.

Report Highlights

  • Despite different cultural backgrounds, the young women in the study identified similar success factors including personal attributes of determination and courage, emotional and financial support from their families, and encouragement from community members, teachers, NGO staff and government.
  • Teachers, mentors and successful older peers are highly influential in forming young women’s aspirations and providing valuable emotional support and advice through secondary and tertiary education.
  • There is a substantial opportunity for organizations working in girls’ secondary education to provide more concrete guidance about university and career planning and to foster the personal attributes and skills that young women need to succeed in life.

Room to Read and Girls' Education

Room to Read works in Asia and Africa through its Girls’ Education program to support underprivileged young women to graduate from secondary school with the skills needed to negotiate key life decisions.  As a learning organization, Room to Read is constantly improving its programming through monitoring and evaluation, collaboration and original research.  Room to Read will use the results of the study to produce educational guides that will be translated into local languages to be shared across our program countries.  These guides will become part of the life skills education for participants in the expanding Girls’ Education program, which is on track to serve 13,500 girls by the end of 2011 and 27,000 by the end of 2014.

Learn more about our Girls' Education program »

Girls' Education

42% of girls in developing countries are not enrolled in school

Invest in Girls' Education




Learn more about the results from our ongoing monitoring efforts, available for download in PDF format.

2012 Monitoring Report (2.1MB)

2011 Monitoring Report (1.6MB)

2010 Monitoring Report (78KB)

2009 Monitoring Report (153KB)

2008 Monitoring Report (97KB)