Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.
From Global Education of Girls is Key to Development:
UNICEF says that, worldwide, 1 billion adults are illiterate--two-thirds of them women. Nearly 100 million children in the developing world don't have access to education. And for every boy out of school, two girls are unable to attend--70 million girls.
It starts early: Fewer girls than boys finish primary school. By the time they reach 18, girls have, on average, 4.4 years less education than boys. Put another way, 81 million girls--49 million more than boys--have no access to primary school education.
The most important single factor driving the disparity is economic. The harder it is to send children to school, the more likely girls' education will suffer. In many poor countries, families with limited funds are forced to decide whom they will send to school. Either they need help around the house or at work, or they can't afford the costs--transportation, supplies and fees--of schooling all their children. Usually, it's the daughters that miss out.
"There's these cultural beliefs that, since women are just women, no matter how much you educate them they're just going to be someone's wife," says Asabe Audu a program manager at Baobab, a Lagos-based organization promoting women's human rights.
Gender gaps can reach extremes in conservative, rural areas, where traditional practices can impede a girl's education. In northern Nigeria, for instance, early marriage is widely seen as ensuring a bride's chastity. The average wedding age is just over 15, a fact with unfortunate consequences. In 1999, a Nigerian girl was less likely to graduate from school than to drop out to get married.
Some great resources around girls and education on an international level:
Girls Education International
United Girls Education Initiative
10 x 10, a documentary—Girls Rising—and a social movement.
The Coalition for Adolescent Girls - Poverty Ends with Her.