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Girls and women hardest hit by recession, reveals report

More girls are failing to complete primary school in the recession

21 January 2013: Girls are bearing the brunt of the global economic recession – being more likely to experience poverty, reduced life expectancy and drop out of school, according to a new report from Plan and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Long standing economic trends, entrenched gender inequality and austerity budgets have all taken their toll - leavng girls and their families with fewer resources and reduced access to services.


The research shows that a drop in a country's economic output leaves girls more likely to die before they reach age 5 than boys.

Food shortages and malnutrition are more common among girls, while women reduce their own food consumption to become ‘shock absorbers’ for household security.

As women work longer hours for less money, more girls are pushed out of school and into filling the gaps at home with domestic chores, into hazardous child labour or even sex work.

World is failing girls

Key findings

  • Primary school completion rates decline 29% for girls versus 22% for boys
  • A 1% fall in GDP increases infant mortality by 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births for girls versus 1.5 for boys
  • Health cuts leave teenage girls most at risk of death in pregnancy in many countries

Plan Chief Executive Officer Nigel Chapman, who is launching the report and chairing a panel on 'Girls and the Digital Divide' at the World Economic Forum* this week, said:

“It is little surprise that the most vulnerable suffer more in times of austerity but to see the impact in higher mortality rates, reduced life expectancy, less opportunities and greater risks for girls and boys is stark.

“The world is failing girls and women. They need more targeted support in social protection, job creation and education if we are to turn the tide of this trend and close this unacceptable and growing gap.”

Read the report and its calls for action

Follow @Nigel_Chapman_ on Twitter

Learn about Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign

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