News Analysis: UN’s International Day of the Girl | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

News Analysis: UN’s International Day of the Girl

News Reporter, Sophie Woodley, analyses the challenges for girls education still ahead following International Day of the Girl

One of the most renowned global issues that pervades our society in the 21st Century, is the limited access to education for girls, particularly in lower economically developed countries (LED). Recent studies show that this, despite efforts and international pledges that have been made, is not improving. Figures from the United Nations shows that almost ‘zero progress’ has been made, in tackling lack of access to education in some of the world’s poorest countries. It is surely painstakingly shameful to admit that 130 million girls are still, despite efforts, denied access to education?

In Western countries, there has often been a gender gap between girls and boys in terms of education. For instance, a 2015 BBC report shows that this gap in relation to those going to University, has ‘never been wider.’ This report goes to the extent in suggesting that being male could be seen as ‘a new form of social disadvantage’. Evidently, the difference between boys and girls in the West gaining access to education, significantly contrasts the dire situation faced in specific LED countries. Head of Education Jo Bourne admitted to this, by informing us that international pledges that have been made, are ‘not addressing the realities of a volatile world’. Many would agree that the staggering difference in access to education, between LED countries and that in the West, lives up to this statement of Bourne’s.

I’m never going to give up on you, so don’t you ever give up on yourselves.

Wednesday 11th October marked the UN’s International Day of the girl. A day playing particular significance for female advocate leaders such as Michelle Obama, who stated ‘I’m never going to give up on you, so don’t you ever give up on yourselves’. Founded in 2011, the aim of this day was to merely recognise girls’ rights across the globe, and the challenges that, unfortunately, many have to face. This year on the International Day of the Girl, a development campaign called ‘One’, released a ranking concerning the top 10 hardest places for girls to gain access to an education. These are as follows:

  1. South Sudan
  2. Central African Republic
  3. Niger
  4. Afghanistan
  5. Chad
  6. Mali
  7. Guinea
  8. Burkina Faso
  9. Liberia
  10. Ethiopia

These aforementioned countries are ones where families are not only at risk of poverty, but poor nutrition, ill health, and devastating effects of war and conflict. These risks are significant factors in contributing to why children are denied access to education. However, the fact that there is even such a thing as a 'top 10' list which considers the hardest places to gain something as mandatory as an education, is eye-opening. These countries are amongst many others, whereas a girl, going to school is an option they would give anything for. Yet, education cannot even be labelled as an option; it is not merely available to them in the first place.

A girl with an education is a girl who can change the world

In places such as sub-Saharan Africa, girls are more likely to miss out on an education in comparison to boys, a derivative of the fact they have other expectations set for them. Girls are expected to work rather than go to school. Also, many marry young, as Unicef confirms with more than 700 million girls alive today, were married before their 18th birthday. 17% of these girls, living in Africa. Girls, can you imagine being forced into something so life-changing a few decades too early? As the ‘one’ campaign states, ‘a girl with an education is a girl who can change the world’. In times like these, the world needs more Michelle Obamas, more Hillary Clintons, more Emma Watsons, more women who are willing to make a difference. This, as clearly shown, is not possible if education for a staggeringly high amount of girls across the globe is not an option. Therefore, days which are dedicated to raising awareness towards issues such as these, are crucial. More information about campaigns that aim to help girls globally, can be found at

second year English Lit student ~ News writer ~ (@sophie_woodley)


11th November 2017 at 12:30 pm

Images from

Amanda Lucidon