Our Causes

Expanding Access to Education

Issue in Focus

Education is a human right. It has the power to save and improve the lives of women and girls, which leads to healthier families and stronger communities.

According to UNICEF, receiving an education makes girls less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. Educated girls earn higher incomes, participate in decisions that affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families.

  • Around the world, 130 million girls are out of school, including 32.3 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67.4 million of upper-secondary school age.
  • 66% of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, 45% of countries have achieved gender parity in lower secondary education and 25% in upper secondary education.
  • Of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults, two-thirds of them are women.
  • Gender-equitable education systems can contribute to reductions in school-related gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • An educated female population increases a country's productivity and fuels economic growth. Some countries lose more than US$1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys. Universal secondary education, especially in poor countries, has a multiplier effect that builds both wealth and health, but only three in four girls complete their secondary education.

Zonta in Action

Investing in the education of women and girls yields high returns, such as breaking cycles of poverty, fostering economic growth and empowering women both in the home and workplace.

Zonta has a dedicated history of supporting women in education: We have provided more than US$12.8 million to thousands of women around the world through the Amelia Earhart Fellowship, Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship, Women in Technology Scholarship and the Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

  • The Amelia Earhart Fellowship expands opportunities for women pursuing advanced studies in the typically male-dominated fields of aerospace engineering and space sciences.
  • The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship supports women pursuing undergraduate and master’s degrees in business management.
  • The Women in Technology Scholarship encourages women to pursue education, career opportunities and leadership roles in technology and related fields.
  • The Young Women in Public Affairs Award recognizes young women, ages 16-19, who demonstrate superior leadership skills and a commitment to public service and civic causes, and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.

In addition to its education programs, Zonta continually chooses international service projects that include the education of women and girls as key strategies.

  • As part of its activities, the Ending Child Marriage project improves education access and supports interventions that encourage girls to enroll in school, strengthens education systems and supports interventions that keep girls in school and provides out-of-school girls with alternative learning opportunities.
  • Let Us Learn Madagascar, an integrated education program, addresses education and gender inequity in Madagascar through approaches targeted toward adolescent girls.

Zonta International is  supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Education is essential to a prosperous life, and we are proud of our continued efforts to fight for gender equity in education.

Stand with women and girls worldwide


Related resources

Recent News

21 MARCH 2023

Zonta-supported project provides health care to more than 20,000 girls in Peru

In 2022, 37,426 adolescents (20,629 girls) received health care in Ucayali and Huancavelica. Read our recent update on Adolescent Girls' Health and Protection in Peru to learn more about the project and its achievements.

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