Girl power: the impact of girls' education on HIV and sexual behaviour

Case Studies & Research
ActionAid International
45 p.
Title other languages
Le pouvoir au féminin: l'impact de l'éducation des filles sur le comportement sexuel et le VIH
Periodical title
Education and HIV series

Girl Power shows that, early in the epidemic (before 1995), more highly educated women were more vulnerable to HIV than women who were less well educated. The most likely reason is that more highly educated people had better economic prospects, which influenced their lifestyle choices such as mobility and number of sexual partners. At that stage, there was also a general information vacuum about HIV and AIDS in Africa. However, as the epidemic has evolved, the relationship between girls' education and HIV has also changed. Now, more highly educated girls and women are better able to negotiate safer sex and reduce HIV rates. The more education the better. Across all the countries reviewed, girls who had completed secondary education had a lower risk of HIV infection and practised safer sex than girls who had only finished primary education. Put simply, education is key to building "girl power"! Despite the power of girls' education and numerous international commitments to education, the reality is that the vast majority of girls in Africa will not complete primary education, let alone manage to get to secondary school. A key obstacle is the rising cost of education. Most children in Africa have to pay to go to primary school which leads to the exclusion of many children from education, especially girls. If we are to see the real benefits of educating girls, then fees need to be removed and governments and donors need to be urged to invest more in primary and secondary education. The gap between the epidemic and the response is - in some countries - narrowing. This report shows that it is possible to stay ahead of the virus - but only when individuals (particularly women and girls) have the power to choose who they have sex with, and when and how they do so. Educating girls and women is one huge step towards turning around the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Record created by