Girls remain the single most discriminated against group on the planet, simply because they are young and because they are female.
In 2017, with the human rights movement on the defensive and a dangerous new form of populist politics on the rise, there is a particular area where the presence of girls and young women, and their voices, could make all the difference: that is as leaders and decision-makers.
For several years, Plan International’s Because I am a Girl initiative has been making the case that girls’ rights matter, that the plight and power of girls demand global action to ensure girls are supported, particularly through a quality education, to realise their full potential. It is now clear to us that girls’ political, economic and social empowerment is the great accelerator for progress during this particularly tough phase of the Global Goals era.
Increasing female leadership starts with girls
Global Goal 5 commits governments to ensuring, by 2030, “full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”. This is for good reason: only 22% of the world’s parliamentarians are women; there are only 14 female heads of state in the world; women account for only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs. In all the critical spaces where power lies, very few women are in control.
In all the critical spaces where power lies, very few women are in control.
Increasing and supporting female leadership means starting with young women and girls. It means challenging the perceptions that girls often form, at a very early age* that leadership is a male pursuit. It means investing in educational approaches that help girls take up leadership roles, in whatever context. It involves creating more and better pathways for girls and young women to claim power in political, economic and social spaces.
A youth-led movement for girls rights
For all of these reasons, Plan International has identified as one of its major priorities for the next 5 years the need for young people, particularly girls, to participate in and influence decisions that matter to them. We see this as core to our vision of a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. To deliver on this ambition, Because I am a Girl aims to catalyse a youth-led global movement for girls rights through political, economic and social empowerment.
We will support young women and girls to take on formal positions of power and decision-making.
We will increase our support for youth-led activism on girls’ rights at the grassroots while expanding our base of supporters and champions for girls rights around the world. To achieve massive change for girls will require all members of this movement to work for change together – from grassroots to global. This is why Because I am a Girl will focus on bringing people together at key moments such as the International Day of the Girl, where we will support young women and girls to take on formal positions of power and decision-making.
2017: The year young female voices began to respond
Delivering on the promise of the Global Goals agenda by 2030 will be best achieved by supporting girls and young women themselves to become agents of change, to have a voice and equal representation at the top tables. For far too long only one type of voice prevailed in the global corridors of power. Let’s make 2017 the year when young female voices began to respond.
*Plan International is not responsible for content on external websites