Girls' Education

Girls' Education

Gender Inequality in Education

Education is a human right, yet barriers to education disproportionately affect girls. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented disruption to education, girls are likely to be most affected. 

Right now, 122 million girls are still out of school. 

66 girls complete upper secondary school for every 100 boys in historically low-income countries. In many countries, this is when girls’ enrollment drops sharply due to harmful social and cultural norms.  

Countries lose over $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys. 

Exclusion from education is especially problematic for young women as it dramatically limits their life options. Without action, the futures of millions of girls stand at a critical tipping point.

Room to Read's Approach to Gender Equality

Inside our Girls' Education Program

The Four Components of our Girls' Education Program

Our program is one of the longest interventions of its kind, providing support from Grades 6 – 12 when girls are especially at risk of falling behind or dropping out of school entirely. The depth of our engagement allows girls to strengthen their life skills as they advance, fostering better long-term outcomes for girls to succeed in their education and lives after graduation. Girls receive a contextualized program based on need and grade level that consists of four main components:

Life Skills Education, Individual Mentorship, Community Engagement, Material Support

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program centered on a multi-year life skills curriculum, supports adolescent girls as they improve learning and life outcomes, helping them graduate with the resilience and the ability to lead, collaborate, think critically and make decisions that they need to address pressing challenges.

Our research-based life skills curriculum follows girls through secondary school, helping them build  competency in areas such resilience, leadership, collaboration, critical thinking and decision making. Through classes, workshops and extracurricular activities, girls learn how to apply key skills in their daily lives and become better equipped to handle challenges — from gender discrimination and food scarcity to finding time to study.

Download Your Own Life Skills Lesson

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program matches cohorts of girls with a local mentor from their community to advocate on their behalf and helps them nurture and grow the necessary skills to exercise agency and make their own informed life choices.

These mentors, called social mobilizers, monitor risk factors associated with dropping out of school and work one-on-one with girls and their families to provide additional guidance to navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Check Out: 5 Ways to Be a Great Mentor

The World Bank lists educating girls as a “strategic development investment” as evidence that girls’ education brings a wide range of benefits not only for the girls themselves but also for their children, communities and society. 

Room to Read engages with families and communities by hosting workshops, events, and other activities to raise awareness about social norms, expectations and challenges that can significantly affect a girl’s ability to stay in school, the importance of education and the resources that exist to support girls’ learning.

This local presence enables Room to Read to better meet the needs of students and quickly respond during crises that create barriers to learning. Our program alumnae also participate, serving as valuable role models for younger girls, and often contributing as mentors and guest speakers. 

Learn how to engage your community to support Room to Read's programs

Potential is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. For some families, the cost of a school uniform or safe transportation is prohibitive to sending their daughters to school.  

We provide need-based material support for school costs such as tuition fees, school supplies, uniforms and exam preparation services so parents don’t have to make the choice between putting food on the table and investing in education.

Support a year of secondary school for just $1/day

What Sets Us Apart

Matching girls with a local mentor

Our local, in-country teams hold trusted relationships with communities and are typically from the community in which they work. This local presence enables Room to Read to better meet the needs of students and quickly respond during crises that create barriers to learning.

Being a trusted partner for impact at scale

As the only NGO often invited by governments to inform nationwide advisory committees, Room to Read is poised to implement lasting, scalable change in public schools and integrate our life skills curriculum at the systems level. We’ve received UNESCO’s Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education and have formed long-lasting partnerships with other gender-equality organizations.

Engaging boys in gender equality

We are deepening our commitment to gender equality by offering gender-transformative life skills programming for boys, that provides a safe space for them to question harmful gender norms and practice gender-equal behaviors in their families and communities.

She Creates Change

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we adjusted our model to disseminate our curriculum more broadly via television, radio, publishing and media partnerships and continue to meet girls wherever they are. With our multimedia initiative She Creates Change, Room to Read is taking a bold step forward in our mission to reach girls in all corners of the globe with key life skills content.

The first nonprofit-led animation and live action film project to promote gender equality through the stories of young women, She Creates Change will enable Room to Read's Girls' Education Program to reach millions more girls. 

Room to Read Presents: She Creates Change | Official Trailer

Girls' Education Program: Results


Room to Read has operated the Girls’ Education Program in 10 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Italy, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia) and has supported over 3.4 million girls to date, changing gender paradigms in communities and strengthening support for girls’ education, the results of which will carry forward for generations. 

We will not stop until every child, regardless of the circumstances they were born into, can access quality education and unlock their full potential. Will you help us?

Read our latest girls' education blogs:

New graphic novels for girls in Southern Italy

Room to Read publishes three new graphic novels for girls in Southern Italy

Girls' Education, Italy

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Measurement Insights from the Life Skills for Equality Project

Measurement insights from Room to Read’s Life Skills for Equality Project

Fernanda Gándara, Director of Research, Monitoring and Reporting for Room to Read's Girls’ Education Program

Girls' Education, Cambodia

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Meet Nikini, Room to Read student and runner making history for her school

Meet Nikini, Room to Read student and runner making history for her school

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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UNESCO laureate Room to Read Cambodia helps girls stay in school

UNESCO laureate Room to Read Cambodia helps girls stay in school

Girls' Education, Cambodia

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