Skip to Content

Unpacking discrimination

It is not possible to tackle girls’ education directly without an in-depth understanding of how discrimination manifests itself in the specific context. It’s important to work with women in the community to develop strategies for addressing and challenging discrimination such as:

Gender-defined roles (collecting firewood, childcare, domestic tasks)

Cultural practices (early marriage, female genital mutilation)

User fees (families prioritise boys education)

Safety concerns (lack of sanitation, violence, rape)

Belief that there is no long-term benefit (once married a girl leaves her family, or education does not help the domestic role; and she is perceived to ‘less valuable on the marriage market’)

Lack of role models (no female teachers and bad textbooks)

Inappropriate curriculum (education system designed to the needs and benefits of boys)

Teachers’ assumptions and expectations (that girls do not need education and will not do well)


Discrimination works at several levels: societal prejudice, preventing girls from accessing and enjoying education; and educational prejudice, reinforcing the position and condition of girls in society.