World Vision, Inc.

Keeping Girls Safe and in School in Sub-Saharan Africa Highly Ranked

Take Action

Connect with us

To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Fifty million girls in sub-Saharan Africa are not in school, and millions more are not reaching their potential. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a leading cause of drop-out: 50% of women over 14 experience GBV in Sub-Saharan Africa. From school dropout to forced sexual encounters, Africa’s girls are straining under the effects of poverty and gender inequities. Restrictive gender norms and GBV must be tackled, and governments need to build systems that retain girls in school. World Vision and World Education will scale evidence-based, Early Warning Systems in four countries that identify students before they drop out and offer tailored responses to retain them in school. In tandem, we will empower communities to confront gender-restrictive norms using tested socio-ecological models, civic outreach, and mass media. Together, these interventions will significantly reduce gender-based violence, empower adolescent girls to stay in school, and build a foundation of opportunity for generations to come.

Problem Statement

With the 2030 deadline for meeting U.N. Sustainable Development Goals only ten years away, time is running out, and data tells the story. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 50 million girls are out of school due to a host of harmful gender norms and weak education systems that fail to retain them. Girls who drop out of school are more likely to experience sexual violence and, consequently, suffer negative health outcomes like unintended pregnancy, HIV infection, and depression. Much has been invested in efforts to improve education for girls because education is intrinsic to adolescents reaching their full potential. Yet, we do not see sustained progress at scale. School systems fail to acknowledge and address the unique challenges faced by girls. Studies across the continent show girls experiencing unparalleled rates of violence and school dropout. The root cause of these problems is the imbalance of power between girls and boys. Without addressing harmful gender norms, the status quo around girls’ education is unlikely to change. If we do not act now, today’s adolescents are likely to grow into adults who perpetuate the same harmful gender norms and practices that limit girls’ futures. An unprecedented youth bulge of 1.2 billion, coupled with grassroots movements exposing deep gender inequality worldwide, offer a defining opportunity to increase the wellbeing of adolescent girls today and for generations to come.

Solution Overview

Education is the social vaccine that allows adolescent girls to thrive. We will set a new trajectory for 670,000 adolescent girls in secondary schools in Eswatini, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe who are facing inequitable access to education due to harmful gender norms and a culture of normalized violence. Using an evidence-based Early Warning System, schools will track the predictors of dropout (attendance, behavior, and course performance) to identify and assist at-risk adolescents. A response protocol will be implemented by adolescent girls for adolescent girls, supported by adults, and nationally embedded within ministries of education where we already have partnerships and ministry support. We will strengthen adolescents’ social connections with peers and trusted adults and disrupt cycles of violence perpetuated by harmful gender norms. To change social norms, it is essential to change perceptions about what others believe and do. We will use tested models (SASA!, Coaching Boys Into Men, Sinovuyo Teen), mass media, and the school environment to facilitate change in community social norms around the value of girls. This gender transformative approach, inclusive of men and boys and religious institutions, will unpack harmful notions of masculinity and build community resilience to prevent violence. Adolescent girls will be empowered to reclaim their futures through education and safe and supportive communities. This multi-sectoral solution will go beyond conventional youth programming to reach the tipping point needed for sustainability. We anticipate significant reduction in secondary school dropout rates and a decline in violence against adolescents within their communities, schools, and homes.

+ Read More

Project Funders

  • John Snow, Inc. (funds manager) under US Department of State 2016 - 2019
  • OSISA 2019 - 2021
  • USAID 2015 - 2018

More Solutions Like This

Highly Ranked

Elementary and secondary education

Sampark Foundation

Disruptive inclusive innovation to improve learning outcomes in public schools


Highly Ranked

Abuse prevention

Futures Without Violence

Changing the Game for Girls: Sexual Violence Can Be Stopped

India, United States

Elementary and secondary education

Parikrma Humanity Foundation

Using India's Government schools as vehicles of larger social transformation


Abuse prevention

Let's Breakthrough, Inc.

Transforming Schools to address the culture of violence

India, Uganda

Elementary and secondary education

The Open University

YAY! - Yebo Africa’s Youth, Let’s Get Learning!

Bangladesh, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania

Elementary and secondary education

Voluntary Service Overseas

Every Sierra Leonean child literate and numerate through effective EdTech

Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Africa

Elementary and secondary education

Pratham Education Foundation

Every Child Learning Well


Elementary and secondary education

Akshara Foundation

Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA)


Elementary and secondary education

Facing History and Ourselves, Inc.

Confronting Hate and Catalyzing Democracy by Facing History

Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Colombia

Elementary and secondary education

Strathmore University

Empowering Kenyan students with life skills and ensuring academic proficiency


Load More