5 Countries Where the UN’s Girl Up Initiative Is Making a Difference

5 Countries Where the UN’s Girl Up Initiative Is Making a Difference

Take action. More specifically, girls take action. That’s what Girl Up’s goal is—to engage girls to take action.

Girl Up is the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign. The efforts of Girl Up help “the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.” Girl Up works to change the current facts of females around the globe. About 75% of HIV-infected youth between the ages of 15-24 are girls. Excluding China, one in seven girls in developing countries is married before the age of 15. Through different partnerships, Girl Up works to create better todays and tomorrows from girls across the globe.

This organization puts a focus on girls in five key countries.



By the age of 17, only 26% of indigenous girls are still enrolled in school in Guatemala. Girl Up funds a United Nations joint program that address the “complex challenges that limit indigenous girls’ opportunities for success.” Boys, family members, caregivers, community leaders, and health technician are trained to become allies in the prevention of violence and teenage pregnancy. One major goal of the program is to increase the legal age of marriage to 18 years old.



In Ethiopia, 52% of females have received no education. One in five girls is married before the age of 15. Girl Up supports multiple United Nations (UN) programs delivered through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Girl-only washrooms and female dormitories have been constructed to make girls feel comfortable at school and post-secondary vocational schools. Adolescent girls receive the required backpacks and uniforms so that they are able to attend school and earn an education.



Rape is the most frequently reported crime in Liberia. The most frequent victims are girls aged 10-14. Girl Up funds a program run by several United Nations agencies that “works with the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls to ensure that they are able to earn an income, stay healthy and avoid harmful traditional practices.” Out-of-school girls receive training on how to run their own business and increase earning potential. Older adolescent girls are trained to assist younger peers by acting as sexual health educators.



In Malawi , more than half of the girls there are married by the age of 18. More than one-fourth of all girls between the ages of 15-19 have given birth. To improve the lives of girls in Malawi, Girl Up supports a United Nations comprehensive program and the Let Girls Lead initiative. Through the program and initiative, more than 300,000 young women have been provided with “training programs that empower them to advocate for their own rights.” Adolescent Girl’s Advocacy Network (AGANET) was launched as well and collaborated with village chiefs. Village chiefs now enforce a strict penalty for men who marry child brides.



There are an estimated 105 million girls between 10-19 years old in India. Out of those girls aged six to 16, 70% drop out of school. Adolescent girls are often forced to drop out of school and do household work, take care of siblings, and have children early on in life. To help keep girls in school and give them a better future, Girl Up supports the Action for Adolescent Girls initiative. The program educates girls and women on important health issues, make them more aware of public services available to them, and provide them with vocational skills, so one day they can earn an income.


Girl Up partners with many different organizations to allow girls from all around the world to have opportunities. Often, it is easy to take having the ability to go to school or the freedom of when to marry for granted. Hopefully, one day, every girl will be free to make her own decisions. With the work of Girl Up, that day is coming one day sooner.

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