A second chance for women

Women learning
Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez

Although significant progress has been made to improve access to education worldwide in the last few decades, millions of marginalized girls, boys and young people still miss out.

A key concern for UN Women is that once girls reach adulthood, the learning opportunities that could increase their agency, independence and economic wellbeing reduce even further. An estimated 478 million women remain illiterate1, while women's labour force participation rate is just under 47%, compared to 72% for men2.

The Second Chance Education (SCE) programme was developed in partnership with BHP Foundation to fill the gap in support for women who have missed out on education.

SCE provides marginalized and disadvantaged women with a second chance to access learning and training opportunities and find pathways to economic empowerment, while engaging with their families and communities to change attitudes and harmful social norms.


1 UNESCO, http://data.uis.unesco.org/

2 ILO, https://www.ilo.org/infostories/en-GB/Stories/Employment/barriers-women#global-gap  

A global program with local solutions

SCE is implemented by local organizations who work within a common framework to deliver contextualized solutions: it is a global model with local solutions.

These local partners give women holistic support that is tailored to their needs as learners and earners.

The SCE program is now, in 2022, in its fifth year of the innovative pilot Phase I.

Since 2018 it has been piloted in very different contexts in six countries: Australia, Cameroon, Chile, India, Jordan and Mexico, changing the lives of refugee, displaced, migrant, indigenous, low-income and socially excluded women.

As of October 2022, over 100,000 women have enrolled, and over 32,000 have started earning an income


Learning pathways

Una mujer
Photo: UN Women

SCE offers women four learning pathways:

  • gender-transformative life skills
  • entrepreneurship/self-employment
  • employment/vocational training
  • return to formal education

The foundational pathway of gender-transformative life skills is crucial for women who have been isolated due to language, social exclusion, patriarchal norms or simply having young children. The life skills pathway helps them to build their agency and make life choices that set them on a path to fulfilling their potential. 

SCE participants learn through a mix of in-person training in women's empowerment hubs and online learning both in the hubs and at home. The programme in Chile is wholly online.

The other programme components that give SCE its added value as a unique, innovative and holistic gender-transformative intervention are personalized support, referrals to social services, and advocacy and policy work.  

SCE's outcomes

Woman sawing
Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez

SCE works towards four outcomes:

  • high-quality educational content
  • strong links to economic opportunities
  • reduced harmful social norms
  • advocacy for SCE good practice in wider policy.

These all work together to open doors to employment, entrepreneurship and continued education opportunities for marginalized women. 

Join us

Jordanian woman
Photo: UN Women Jordan/Christopher Herwig
  • To join the Second Chance programme, select your country from the dropdown list at the top of this page and find the contact details of local partners on the About page. 
  • To learn more about the programme and what is happening in the different pilot countries, check out the Second Chance YouTube channel.
  • To explore the courses and resources on this website - go ahead! There is no charge. For Cameroon, Chile, Jordan and Mexico, you will need to create an account (free) to access the courses. For Australia, India and the Global site, you do not need to register with us as the courses are on external websites.
  • To help us raise awareness of women having missed out on education, follow Second Chance on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.
  • To contribute learning resources for marginalised women, contact us at support.sce@unwomen.org.