Achieving the UK’s Foreign Policy Objectives through Investment in Girls’ Education

Globally, 131 million girls do not go to school and two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female. If current trends continue, equality in education will not be achieved for another 80 years and the global goals of ensuring all girls receive 12 years of quality education by 2030 will not be reached for another 150 years.

This has been exasperated by the coronavirus pandemic and 10 million more girls are expected to drop out of school as a result, reversing much of the progress made on girls’ education in recent years. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that advancing girls’ education will be a central part of his political legacy and the UK Government’s policy agenda.

This commitment has been shown through the launching of the Platform for Girls’ Education, continued support for the Girls’ Education Challenge Fund and significant financial commitments, including a £515 million commitment to education around the world, announced in September 2019.

The UK Government has also stated that it will use its 2021 G7 Presidency as an opportunity to gain support for girls’ education within the international community and, alongside Kenya, the UK will co host the Global Partnership for Education summit in 2021 to lead global action to educate every child.

This report sets out the best available evidence regarding how investment in the provision of 12 years of quality education for every girl will not only advance the UK’s global values mission, but directly help to achieve the UK’s broader foreign policy objectives. It includes findings presented in a high-level evidence workshop hosted by the British Foreign Policy Group and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in July 2020, including contributions from two former heads of state and leading global academics and practitioners.


Sophia Gaston

Sophia is the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group.