Girls' economic empowerment | Plan International Skip to main content
Girl learns tailoring skills at a training centre supported by Plan International in Nigeria.
Girl learns tailoring skills at a training centre supported by Plan International.

Girls' economic empowerment

Girls and young women make up the majority of the world's 628 million unemployed young people who have neither an education nor vocational training.

Barriers caused by gender inequality and discrimination are preventing girls from going to school and getting the skills they need to access decent work and break out of poverty.

Not only is this unjust, it is a huge waste of potential.

See Plan International's policy position on economic empowerment with a focus on youth, young women and girls.

How does gender affect work and pay?

In developing countries, girls’ jobs are often vulnerable, informal and unprotected. Girls are more likely to be paid lower wages - if they are paid at all - and be the first to lose their jobs. At current rates, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take over a century to close the gender pay gap.

Most of the work girls and young women carry out is unseen and undervalued. They perform the majority of care and domestic work, doubling or even tripling the length of their working day. Girls also face unique barriers to benefiting from the digital economy and are 5 times less likely than boys to even consider a career related to technology.

Gender equality hinges on girls' economic empowerment

Gender equality hinges on girls' economic empowerment


Investing in girls’ economic empowerment is essential to achieving gender equality. Enabling girls to learn throughout their lives and develop key skills can transform lives, communities and entire countries.

Each extra year of education boosts a girl’s wages by 8-10%. Young women with secondary education could expect to make almost twice as much as those with no education.

In addition, research shows that women’s education is linked to health benefits for their children - they are more able to keep their children healthy, secure and educated.

Independence for India's young women

Our innovative Saksham programme is training thousands of young women from Delhi’s slums and is connecting them with job opportunities so they can become financially independent. 

Learn more

Unemployment rates for young men and women

Unemployment rates for young men and women


The economic empowerment of girls must start early – when gender stereotyping begins – and must continue throughout their lives.

This includes dedicated efforts to challenge perceptions about what it is acceptable for women to do, providing vocational training and life skills, access to loans and savings groups, and education on how money works.