News & Stories


October 2019 // One Girl CEO, Sarah Ireland has today announced that she’ll be taking parental leave in January 2020 as she and her partner welcome the birth of their second child! 

Sarah and her partner David Sims — who works for Oxfam Australia — have a three-year-old daughter who is looking forward to meeting her new sibling, and staff are looking forward to welcoming another member of the One Girl family. In true One Girl style, and in line with their value of ‘challenging the status quo’, Sarah’s parental leave won’t be your typical 12 months absence.

One of the barriers to education that girls and young women face in the countries in which we work is early marriage and teenage pregnancy and our programs work to address that. Here in Australia, we are lucky enough to have a high school completion rate for girls that sits above 95% and low teen pregnancy, however, women in Australia do still face barriers to success. It just happens later … after they leave school and enter the workplace.

There is more work to be done to make sure that women are equally represented and valued in our workforce but also that they have access to paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements and suitable return to work plans. As an organisation that champions equality, it’s important that we ‘walk the talk’ to give women and girls every opportunity to succeed - both here in Australia and overseas.

One Girl CEO, Sarah tells us One Girl has a gender-neutral paid parental leave policy that has thrown off the shackles of widely accepted, non-inclusive plans that include the nomination of a co-parent (rather than simply ‘parent’) or a primary vs secondary carer with different leave and pay entitlements accordingly.

“Obviously the gender wage gap is about more than just equal pay, it’s about getting more women back into the workforce by allowing more men back into the home — because you can’t have one without the other.” 

But it’s not just about the paid parental leave policy, it’s the flexible working arrangements that really shows how One Girl is paving the way, and it doesn’t just apply to parents. One Girl’s flexible working arrangements are available to all staff who have valued commitments outside of work — no matter what their stage of life or personal choices regarding parenthood.

Leading by example, Sarah plans to relinquish all operational duties during her period of parental leave but will remain the public-facing head of the organisation which will allow a more flexible and staggered return to work that benefits parent, child and workplace alike.

“I wanted a policy that would not only reflect One Girl’s values, but also those that David and I want to model for our children, and that I believe we should all aspire to. I hope other organisations take seriously the task of ending the inequality that exists in the workforce for women everywhere because when you raise women up, everyone benefits,” says Sarah.

One Girl is excited to welcome a new part-time, operational CEO who will support the team and provide strategic leadership from January 2020.


• Over 130 million girls around the world are denied an education simply because they were born a girl.
• Sierra Leone and Uganda are two of the most challenging places in the world to be born a girl: almost 50% of female youth in Sierra Leone are illiterate, up to 40% of girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda are forced into child marriage and 3 in 5 girls in Sierra Leone don’t attend school.
• Worldwide, 14 million girls under the age of 18 will be forced into marriage this year. That’s 38,000 today or 13 girls in the last 30 seconds.
• In sub-saharan Africa only 1 in 5 girls will make it to high school.
• A girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to attend high school.


• For every year a girl stays in school, her income will increase by 10-25%
• An educated woman’s children are 50% more likely to live past the age of five.
• An educated girl will marry when she’s ready and have a smaller, healthier family.
• For every dollar she earns, she will invest 90% of it back into her family.

For more more information or to request an interview, contact One Girl Communications Director, Méabh Friel on 03 9913 4818 or at

About One Girl:
One Girl is an Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting girls without access to education in two of the worst places in the world to be born a girl: Uganda and Sierra Leone. One Girl raises funds and awareness through national campaigns like Do It In A Dress to provide thousands of girls and young women with access to education.

Since 2009, One Girl has worked with well-established local organisations to reach more than 32,000 women and girls with access to high-quality education programs.

About Do It In A Dress
Do It In A Dress is an annual fundraising campaign organised by Australian not-for-profit, One Girl.

Do It In A Dress is about putting on a school dress, having some fun, and standing up for every girl’s right to an education. Through this campaign, participants raise money to support One Girl’s education programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda. To date, Do It In A Dress has successfully raised over $2.8 million dollars, which has helped changed the lives of girls across Sierra Leone and Uganda.