• 03.07.17

#GirlsCount: This Is What 130 Million Girls Missing Out On Education Looks Like

A new campaign from ONE aims to make that massive number mean something more than a statistic.

#GirlsCount: This Is What 130 Million Girls Missing Out On Education Looks Like

Around the world, approximately 130 million girls are not in school today. Girls in the poorest countries are less likely to receive an education than boys, which means they’re being denied the education they need to one day get a job, expand their opportunities, and break the cycle of poverty.


For International Women’s Day, the advocacy organization ONE has launched a new campaign with agency Droga5 called #GirlsCount, to help illustrate and raise awareness of the sheer scale of the crisis, and demand access to education for all girls.

The ONE campaign’s website asks people to pick a number between one and 130 million, then film or photograph themselves saying, singing or depicting that number in any other creative way. The videos will ultimately be combined to make what they hope will become the world’s longest user-generated film, which will be used to pressure world leaders to take the action needed to ensure every girl gets a quality education.

Celebrity supporters include Malala Yousafzai, Sheryl Sandberg, Angelique Kidjo, Bono, David Oyelowo, Tom Brady, Giselle Bundchen, Michael Sheen, Chelsea Handler, Tracee Ellis Ross, Charlize Theron, and more.

Droga5 executive creative director Kevin Brady says the idea for the user-generated film around the 130 million statistic came about when the number just kept cropping up in their initial meetings.

“It was starting to just be almost normalized until somebody was just like ‘Wait a minute, 130 million. That is an insane number. Do you know how much 130 million is?'” says Brady. “And we all kinda laughed like, ‘Yeah, I think we do.’ But we didn’t. Nobody really does. It’s just too large a number. And then to think that behind each of these endless amounts of numbers is a real person with hopes and dreams. That just became a very powerful thought to us. So from that little session we not only had our idea–to count from one to 130 million–but we also had our visual, that behind that statistic, and behind the icons, are real girls.”

Droga5 has worked on plenty of charity and issue-based campaigns, dating back to The UNICEF Tap Project launched with Esquire magazine back in 2007. Brady says that there are more similarities than differences in creating work for brands, versus work for charities. “You still start with the unwavering goal that the work has to be something that has never been done before,” he says. “They both have to incredibly simple and you have to always remind yourself that even though your cause may be very moving, most people are too busy to engage with it unless you make it incredibly simple. And then lastly, emotion is one of the most important tools you can use. You have to connect with the user in a very real and honest way.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.