Afghan women attend a protest demanding better living conditions at the refugee camp of the former international Helliniko airport in Athens. Photo/Archive/EPA
Afghan women attend a protest demanding better living conditions at the refugee camp of the former international Helliniko airport in Athens. Photo/Archive/EPA

A new report published by UNHCR highlights a relevant gap in the education of refugee girls. According to the findings, girls are half as likely as boys to attend high school.

''Her Turn'', a new report published by UN refugee agency UNHCR states that refugee girls at secondary level are only half as likely to enroll in school as their male peers, even though girls make up half of the school-age refugee population.


The UNHCR highlighted that education is fundamental for everyone but it remains an aspiration for millions of refugee women and girls. For them, it is even tougher to find - and keep - a place in the classroom. As they get older, refugee girls face more marginalization and the gender gap in secondary schools grows wider. 

Boys have priority in school 

The report said that social and cultural conventions often result in boys being prioritized over girls to attend school. Poor facilities such as a lack of appropriate toilet facilities and menstrual supplies could block refugee girls' access to schools. Moreover, the cost of books, uniforms and the journey to school can be too high for refugee families.

''It is time for the international community to recognize the injustice of denying refugee girls and women an education,'' said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. ''These findings are a global wake-up call, and I urge all to join us in demanding: 'It's her turn'.'' 

Education to protect girls 

According to the report, a high-quality education also protects girls. ''It reduces vulnerability to exploitation, sexual and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy and child marriage''. Moreover, the UN agency noted that ''if all women received a primary level education, child deaths from diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia would fall''. 

UNHCR suggested solutions to improve school attendance including transport, which is often long and dangerous and requires more protection against sexual abuse and abduction, among others. The agency also urged to recruit and train more female teachers so they can promote better practices and prevent behavior that can be a deterrent for girls. ''If we continue to neglect refugee girls' education, it is evident that the consequences will be felt for generations,'' said Grandi. ''It is time to make refugee girls' education a priority.'' 
 

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