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A 17-yea- old Egyptian girl stands outside alone looking straight ahead with confidence.

Through our programs and advocacy, we empower girls like Yasmeen to exercise their rights, be equally heard and valued, and achieve their potential. Your donation today helps ensure every girl and boy has an equal chance for the future they deserve. Photo credit: Joseph Raouf/ Save the Children, 2017

Empower a Girl. Change the World

Millions of children are being robbed of an education because of who they are or where they live. Failed by poor school systems, deprived of learning by war or disaster, or kept away from school because of poverty or gender, the world’s most vulnerable children are missing out on education and being left behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced these deep and systemic inequalities. 

Girls are disproportionately affected by a lack of education in comparison to boys – worldwide, about 15 million girls will never have the opportunity to attend primary school, compared to about 10 million boys.

But when girls are empowered to lead their lives, speak their minds and determine their futures, everyone benefits.

Her Education at Risk: Yasmeen’s Story

In Egypt, where 17-year-old Yasmeen lives, many boys and girls are made to work in tough conditions to support their families. It is also common for families to arrange marriages for girls, believing marriage will protect them and also to ease financial burdens on the family. The country’s child marriage rate is nearly 3 times that of the United States — 15% of girls age 15-19 are married. Related, 1 in 20 girls gives birth before the age of 19.

Yasmeen is the only girl in her family – she has three brothers. “One day, a girl was kidnapped in the village,” explains Yasmeen. “The next day my father said I would not go to school again.”

Yasmeen’s father was being protective of her, naturally. Sadly, girls represent nearly 3 out of every 4 child trafficking victims, with the majority trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. However, as Yasmeen quickly realized, her education was at risk as well.

“I lost a lot when I dropped out of school,” she says.

Yasmeen’s days suddenly changed. When her younger brother went off to school, she stayed at home with her mother. For many years, Yasmeen had kept a diary to record her days at school doing art, which she especially loved. She even dreamed of studying fine art at university. Yasmeen didn’t stop keeping a diary once she left school, but she felt sad that her brother could now read and write better than she could.

Why do girls miss out on school?

Worldwide, boys are often encouraged to get an education to prepare for work, while girls carry heavy household responsibilities that keep them from school, increasing the odds of early marriage and pregnancy.

Around the world, a girl is more likely to be denied health care, kept out of school, forced to marry and subjected to violence – her voice undervalued, if it’s heard at all.

Save the Children is working in the world’s poorest, most dangerous and hardest-to-reach places. Together, we help girls stay in school, delay marriage and childbirth, and acquire the life and livelihood skills they need to successfully transition to adulthood.

We work with parents to fight gender bias in families by encouraging shared household chores, so girls and boys have equal time to devote to education and play.

Hope for Yasmeen, Thanks to You

Yasmeen believes her life would have carried on as it was – largely confined to the home and with no hope of anything different – if she hadn’t heard about Save the Children’s program to help young people who’ve dropped out of education.

Yasmeen sits on her bed at home reading a book.

“I heard about it from my cousin and when I got a place I felt like I was flying with happiness. I finally felt I could be as good as my brothers or even better. I ran to tell my mother because she always wishes the best for me.”

Suddenly new opportunities opened up to Yasmeen.

At last, she was being asked what she would like to do in the future – she had a choice. Yasmeen has now completed her learning course, and is waiting for a grant to set up her business.

“I will buy a sewing machine and start my sewing business. I chose this because our house is on the main road and we don’t have someone who does that in the area where I live.”

Changing a Girl’s Life Lasts a Lifetime

Yasmeen is now excited about the future. Now, when she writes in her diary, she has a new dream for her future; “My dream is to become a fashion designer, so I want to learn how to design and make dresses.”

She knows Save the Children’s project isn’t just changing her life, but the lives of many young people – especially girls; “It changes girls’ lives, and how they are seen in their families and communities.”

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, Save the Children reaches hundreds of millions of children every year, promoting gender equality and empowering girls, right from the start, for a better future.

What’s more, Save the Children helped achieve a 25% decline in child marriage worldwide since 2000, empowering 11 million girls to stay in school or transition to work, deciding for themselves when they’re ready for marriage and motherhood.

To take action to ensure girls across the globe have equal opportunities to succeed – and lead.

[1] 2019 Global Childhood Report