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. The impacts of COVID-19 have made this even worse.

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

Girl learns tailoring skills at a training centre supported by Plan International. Investing in girls’ economic empowerment can transform lives, communities and entire countries. It is essential to achieving gender equality.

Facts about youth unemployment

  • 628 million young people are unemployed.
  • 75 million young people are trained, but have no job.
  • Young men are almost 1.5 times more likely to be employed than young women
  • At the current rate of progress it will take over 200 years to close the gender pay-gap.
  • Each extra year of education boosts a girl’s wages as an adult by up to 20%

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. Globally, women receive 20% less remuneration than men for the same work, and frequently endure poorer working conditions than their male counterparts.

Most of the work girls and young women carry out is unseen and undervalued. They perform the majority of care and domestic work, and prior to COVID-19, they doubled or even tripled the length of their working day, an unfair burden that rose during the pandemic.

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.

Empowering the world’s girls

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 up to 20%. 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. 

Challenging perceptions

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.