Cartier Philanthropy - The ripple effect of girls’ education

The ripple effect of girls’ education


Around the world, whether or not a girl stays in school has an astounding effect on not simply her quality of life, but that of her future family and community. Staying in school longer means girls are more likely to build smaller and healthier families, decrease their probability of contracting HIV and earn a higher wage. Girls are also more likely to marry later and educate their children. In poor countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, investing in girls’ education can transform the nation’s development. We’re supporting Room to Read’s innovative Girls’ Education Programme to give 4,350 girls in Bangladesh and Cambodia the opportunity to complete secondary school, gain the skills to negotiate key life decisions and reach their full potential.

Focus area
Women’s Social and Economic Development Access to Basic Services
Bangladesh Cambodia
Room to Read


Bangladesh and Cambodia suffer from substantial gender disparity. Gender inequality is particularly alarming in education, with the dropout rate for female students increasing as they rise through each grade level in both countries.

Data from the 2017 Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics show that dropout rates for girls are a high 42% at secondary school level and that secondary level completion rates are only 59%.

In rural Cambodia, pervasive poverty remains a powerful disincentive to girls’ education, meaning that just one in three Cambodian girls has the opportunity to finish secondary school.

Gender-specific challenges in both countries include cultural bias and lack of safety, increased school costs, the need to contribute to family income and pressures to marry and start a family.


Room to Read’s innovative girls’ education programme ensures girls complete secondary school with the relevant knowledge, life skills and ability to negotiate key life decisions.
Their girls’ education programme, empowers girls by providing:

  • A Life-skills curriculum: tailored sessions that help girls develop important skills like critical thinking, self-confidence, communication, problem-solving and perseverance
  • Mentoring: role models who give girls guidance and emotional support, both individually and in groups
  • A social support system: interventions engage diverse stakeholders like local government officials, school administrators, families and the larger community
  • Need-based advocacy: such as school fees, transport, uniforms and supplies, as well as exam preparation so that girls can build academic success

Room to Read is committed to putting data at the heart of evidence-based programme design. Over 81,000 girls have already been supported by Room to Read girls’ education programme worldwide, with 95% of those who remained in school advancing to the next grade level.

Expected results

  • 4,350 girls are enrolled in the programme and provided with the support they need to thrive in and out of school (1,450 girls per year for three years in both countries)
  • The girls’ families and larger community gain a better understanding of the importance of girls’ education and the issues girls’ face, and become advocates in their communities

Long-term strategy

Room to Read invests in girls’ education for long-term systemic change. They operate at the nexus of long-term school-level implementation and work across the private and public sectors around the world to build trusted relationships with governments officials and promote girl-friendly learning environments. These partnerships ensure the Room to Read programme complements national efforts, is sustainable and nationally scalable.