GIRLS Inspire

Providing learning opportunities for vulnerable, hard-to-reach women and girls is one of the best investments we can make in working towards sustainable development. Yet, in developing countries, almost one-quarter of all women and girls aged 15-24 have never completed primary school. 

COL recognises that advancing the goals of both women’s empowerment and gender equality are central to "Learning for Sustainable Development".

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), with funding from the governments of Canada and Australia, launched GIRLS Inspire, a three-year project for girls' education, in 2016. COL is partnering with community organisations and institutions to support schooling and skills development for some of the world’s most vulnerable and hard-to-reach women and girls using open, distance and technology-enabled learning. 

Empowering women and girls to shape their own futures has an incredible multiplier effect on economic growth that leads to increased prosperity, not just for individuals, but for entire families. Empowered girls are a key driver of sustainable development. Given the opportunity, girls can inspire positive transformations in their families, their communities and the world.

GIRLS Inspire addresses some of the barriers that girls and young women face in attending and completing school, such as:

  • Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM): Millions of girls are forced into early marriage for a variety of economic and cultural reasons. Girls and women who marry young tend to have lower levels of education and are much more likely to have multiple children to care for while still young.

  • Distance to school and security concerns: Distance from school is a safety issue for girls and women in many regions of the world. The issue is not only safety but cultural and social values. In many cultures, it is not common or desirable for girls to travel unaccompanied for long distances. The further away a girl lives from school, the less likely she is to attend.
  • Cost of schooling: The cost of schooling is a significant barrier for many resource-poor families. If they are to invest in education, boys receive priority. If education is affordable and flexible, girls also have the opportunity to participate without disrupting their family responsibilities. 

Learn more about the GIRLS Inspire project, its theory of change and the partners involved on its community of practice website at