The World's Adolescent Girls

Adolescent girls have tremendous potential to be strong, bright, and curious leaders, sports stars, prime ministers — you name it. But adolescent girls in developing countries face a number of challenges that can make it difficult to fulfill their aspirations. Join Girl Up and you can help girls globally live their dreams.



 Did You Know?

  • Studies show that every year of schooling increasing a girl’s future earning power by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Less than half a cent of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for girls, particularly those ages 10-14.
  • Girls make up more than half of the world’s 143 million out-of-school youth.
  • One in seven girls in the developing world marries before the age of 15.
  • In Liberia, 41.7 percent of women have received no formal education.[1] 
  • In Liberia, close to 45 percent of girls ages 10-14 have received no formal education.[2]
  • Girls who receive an education marry later, have fewer children,[3] and are more likely to seek healthcare for themselves and their children.[4]
  • The positive impact of girls’ education has been shown to transcend generations, resulting in better health outcomes among women, their children, and eventually their grandchildren. 

See more charts & maps on adolescent girls

  • Violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer.[5]
  • Younger women are at higher risk of physical or sexual abuse than older ones.
  • In 2008, women held only 18 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide.[6]
  • Providing girls with leadership skills and including them in the decision-making process is one of the major tools to spark economic and social change.[7]
  • Statistics show that women and girls reinvest 90 percent of their income in their families and communities.[8]
  • Girls often face social isolation and lack access to many services. For example, peer education programs, even if not school-based, are unlikely to reach urban girls, who are largely confined to the home.[9]
  • When it comes to funding, a vast majority of youth assistance bypasses girls.
  • Data show that in some cases, 80 to 90 percent of youth program participants are boys.

Watch this video to see how your involvement with Girl Up can make a huge difference in the life of one girl.




[1] Selected Indicators For Liberia. 2009. Demographic and Health Surveys Quickstats.
[2], Demographic and Health Surveys, Date Accessed: 2009-03-25
[5] UN Millennium Project. 2005. Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women.  Task Force on Education and Gender Equality. London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan.
[7] Levine, R., C. Lloyd, M. Greene, C. Grown. 2008. Girls Count: A Global Investment and Action Agenda. Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development.
[8] Phil Borges. 2007. Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World. New York.
[9] Malhotra, A., S. Mathur, M. Mehta, P. Moktan, and P. Bhadra. 2000. “Adolescent Reproductive Health and Sexuality in Nepal: Combining Quantitative and Participatory Methodologies.” Paper presented at Annual Meetings of the Population Association of America, March 23-25, Los Angeles.