Over the past 20 years, significant strides have been made in both getting more children worldwide into school, and in making sure that girls especially can access education.

Around 110 million less children were blocked from education in 2015 than the 15 years previously. The ‘gender gap’ – the difference in numbers of girls and boys dropping out of secondary school – has also been reduced in this time, with girls now equally as likely to stay in middle schools and high schools as boys, rather than dropping out.

But girls across the world still face discrimination in numerous ways, including access to education, as Terre des Hommes’ 8th edition of the ‘The Condition of the Girl Child Worldwide’ report shows.

130 million girls worldwide are still missing out on any form of education, and half of those who attend some form of schooling are not taught the sufficient maths and literacy skills they need.

Girls living in rural areas are more likely to miss out on school altogether than their male peers, with large gaps existing in many countries between the percentage of rich urban boys going to school, compared with poor rural girls. For example, a rich male child in Nigeria on average attends school for 11 years more than a poor rural girl, with a 10-year gap present in Pakistan and India, and an 8-year gap in Sierra Leone and Mozambique.

Such stark disadvantages affect girls far into adulthood, excluding them from the job market and forcing them into low-skilled labour. Being prevented from getting an adequate education, a lack of skills and experience and societal pressure to take care of children and the house are stopping girls from getting jobs which they are more than capable of doing.

Today (11 October) marks the International Day of the Girl Child, a day designated to raise awareness on the needs and challenges faced by girls everywhere. Guaranteeing a quality education for all girls today will give them the skills, expertise and increased opportunities for them to benefit society for everyone tomorrow.

We have eleven years left to even the gap between girls and boys in accessing education if we are to meet the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, making sure every child receives quality schooling. We have to make them count – starting by removing the barriers between girls and the quality education they deserve.

The 2019 edition of the Condition of the Girl Child Worldwide is available to download in English here.

Pic: A girl improves her literacy and numeracy skills in a non-formal educative setting provided by Terre des Hommes in Myanmar. ©Tdh/Gonzalo Bell