What are the Barriers to Education for Girls?
15 June 2023

Investing in girls' education goes beyond mere fairness; it acts as a catalyst for transformative change that reverberates throughout communities, countries, and the entire world. When girls are given the opportunity to learn, they break free from the confines of early marriage and embrace healthy, productive lives. They become the architects of their own destinies, earning higher incomes, and shape brighter futures for themselves and their families.

However, acoording to UNICEF, a staggering 129 million girls are out of school. This disheartening statistic demands immediate action to address the underlying reasons that perpetuate this educational crisis for girls.

Two girls at Dignity for Children Foundation enjoying learning in the Montessori method, exploring math with hands-on activities.

Why are girls out of school?

Gender bias

Gender bias remains a significant obstacle that hinders girls' access to education. Deep-rooted societal norms perpetuate the belief that girls are less capable or deserving of an education compared to boys. Discrimination within educational settings, such as lower expectations, limited resources, and gender-based violence, creates an unwelcoming learning environment for girls. Moreover, cultural practices that prioritize early marriage and motherhood often lead to girls dropping out of school, depriving them of essential educational opportunities.


Violence poses a significant threat to girls' education, perpetuating a cycle of fear and exclusion. Physical and sexual abuse, including harassment, assault, and trafficking, not only jeopardize the safety of girls but also deter them from attending school. Gender-based bullying and peer pressure create a hostile school environment, leading to psychological distress and diminished motivation to pursue education. Moreover, attacks on schools in conflict zones and unstable regions deprive girls of a safe and conducive learning environment. To dismantle these barriers, it is imperative to address violence, create safe spaces, and protect the rights of girls, allowing them to access education without fear and unlock their full potential.


Poverty stands as a formidable force that perpetuates the exclusion of girls from education. Within impoverished families, the struggle to meet basic needs becomes a barrier to allocating resources necessary for education, such as school fees, uniforms, and supplies. In low-income households, girls often bear the burden of contributing to household chores, labor, or income-generating activities, leaving them with limited time and energy for schooling. Compounding the issue, impoverished communities frequently lack access to quality schools, making it a daunting challenge for girls to safely commute to distant educational facilities.

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded the barriers to girls' education. Widespread school closures disrupted the education of millions of girls, exacerbating existing inequalities. Remote learning has increased household responsibilities, burdening girls with additional chores, caregiving duties, or sibling care, thereby limiting their ability to engage in online classes. Moreover, disparities in access to technology, internet connectivity, and digital literacy have hindered girls' participation in remote learning, further widening the education gap.

"We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." - Malala Yousafzai

Achieving true gender equality demands that we remove these barriers and ensure that every girl has the opportunity to thrive. It is not just a matter of fairness; it is a matter of creating a world where every individual's dignity is respected and their potential is unleashed.

Dignity for Children's work to empower girls through education

Dignity for Children Foundation is steadfast in its mission to promote girls' education, transforming lives and building a more equitable society. Embracing diversity, the foundation welcomes children from all backgrounds, irrespective of race or gender, creating an inclusive environment where every child has an equal chance to thrive. 

To support vulnerable girls, Dignity for Children Foundation implements a comprehensive range of initiatives:
  • Access to Quality Education and Care: From pre-school to secondary school, Dignity provides girls with access to quality education and holistic care, nurturing their academic growth and overall well-being.
  • Addressing Transportation Challenges: Recognizing the transportation barriers faced by students living far from schools, the foundation offers bus transportation services, enabling them to attend classes regularly and safely.

Teachers delivering empowering body safety workshops to a captivated classroom of children.

  • Empowering through Body Safety Workshops: Dignity conducts workshops on body safety, equipping girls with knowledge and skills to navigate and respond to potential risks, ensuring their personal safety and well-being.

A therapist guiding students through art therapy, fostering self-expression and emotional healing in a supportive and nurturing environment.

  • Providing Counseling Support: The foundation offers counseling services to girls, providing them with a supportive space to address emotional challenges, build resilience, and enhance their overall development.
  • Rental and Medical Assistance: Dignity extends support to those in need by providing rental and medical assistance, ensuring that economic barriers do not hinder their access to education.
  • Eliminating Gender Bias through Social Emotional Learning: Through social emotional learning programs, Dignity fosters an environment that challenges and dismantles gender bias, empowering girls to break free from societal constraints and pursue their dreams.

By supporting a child's education, you become a catalyst for SDG 5: Gender Equality. Together, let's break down barriers, empower girls, and create a future where every child has equal opportunities. Join us today and be a part of the change we wish to see in the world. Empower-A-Child and help shape a brighter future.
Share the story!

About Dignity

Our work began in 1998 in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur with only 20 students then. Dignity is now a learning centre with more than 2,300 children ranging from 2-19 years old.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please do try again!
Your subscription has been successful!

Stay Updated!

Subscribe and get notified of our latest events and updates.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

Donations are exempted from income tax under subsection 44(6) Income Tax Act 1967. Tax exemption receipt is available upon request.
© 2023 Dignity for Children Foundation (200001003583 [506188-W])
Thank you :)
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. You'll now be the first to find out exclusive news and updates!
Oh no :(
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again!
Generic Popup