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The girl Issue

Lady looks 4 girls smiling and waving

The girl issue is real, and it’s affecting girls and women around the world – but what is it?

In the developing world, millions of girls are denied their basic human rights, simply because they’re girls. In fact, girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet. They are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be denied access to education, and more likely to be malnourished.

And yet, studies show that when you invest in girls, the whole world benefits. If a girl has enough to eat, a safe environment, and an education, she’ll work to raise the standard of living for herself, her family and her community. And in time, she can even strengthen the economy of her entire country.

Each year, 15 million girls under 18 will be married; that's nearly 1 girl every 2 seconds. Girls are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition as boys. And globally, more than 62 million girls are not attending either primary or secondary school.

The power of girls

Investing in girls is key to eliminating poverty and creating a safer, brighter future for everyone. When girls are educated, healthy, safe from violence, and empowered, they pull themselves, their children and their communities out of poverty.

  • Girls with secondary school education are 6x less likely to marry as children.
  • On average, a girl with 7 years of education will marry 4 years later and have fewer, healthier children.
  • For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 10 to 20%.


the girl issue

Girls in the developing world face unique barriers that keep them from achieving their full potential. Learn more about these barriers and about what Plan International is doing to create a brighter future for girls, boys, men and women everywhere.

Girl laughing in a classroom.

Girls' education

More than 62 million are out of school around the world. Learn more about the barriers to girls’ education and how together we can get girls back in the classroom – where they belong.

Barriers to girls’ education

A child bride.

Child marriage

Globally, 15 million girls every year are forced into early marriages – that’s over 41,000 every day, or nearly 1 girl every 2 seconds.

Child, early and forced marriage

A man standing in front of a young woman.

Gender-based violence

Unfortunately, violence against girls and women is a global issue, impacting communities around the world.

Learn about the different forms of gender-based violence

Group of smiling girls.

Facts and figures

Check out our girls’ right fact sheet with information on issues around the world related to girls’ health, education, and more.

View facts and figures

Two girls hugging.

What you

can do

Girls can change the world, but they can’t do it without your help!

If you believe girls’ rights are human rights, be part of the movement to make a real difference in the lives of girls around the world.


*Sources for the statistics used on this page are referenced on the Girls' Rights Fact Sheet