Think of the potential of the next generation of girls. Think of the impact the 200,000 girls born every day could have if they enjoyed equal power and freedom. It’s the biggest untapped opportunity for positive change in our world.
It’s that potential that motivates us as a global girls’ rights organisation working across almost 80 countries to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. It’s why we are going to the global gender equality conference Women Deliver 2019 to mobilise with the girls’ and women’s movements so that, together, we can unleash girls’ potential to change the world.
Within the hearts and minds of the next generation of girls could be the solutions to the local and global problems we have all been looking for. However, they are all too often excluded from working on the big breakthroughs and making the big decisions.
Standing up to discrimination
We know that adolescent girls and young women are discriminated against, receiving less education, forced into marriage and experiencing violence and harassment. They make up three quarters of young people around the world not in school, training or employment. Is it any surprise there are so few female leaders in government and business – that only around 1 in 5 government ministerial positions* are held by women and only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women?*
young people are showing us they won’t be silenced and excluded any longer.
But young people are showing us they won’t be silenced and excluded any longer. Think of the young people who led the March for our Lives and Climate Strikes. Think about the MeToo movement. And think about Greta Thunberg, who united 1.4 million young people across 128 counties in a single day of action for climate justice. To honour girls and young people like Greta, we must work alongside them and the women’s movement to empower more grassroots girl-led activism. Which is why we’re bringing the voice and power of girls to Women Deliver 2019.
Girls need equal power
At Plan International, we’re already working alongside girls and young people who are fighting for gender justice through local, national and global activism. We have the world’s largest girl-led campaign, Girls Get Equal, which is calling for equal power, freedom and representation for girls.
We have also outlined what we believe are the fundamental building blocks for girls’ empowerment in the Girls' Plan – a holistic girl-led investment strategy with programme solutions for changing girls' futures. Working with partners on strategic, global approaches, uniting our efforts – across sectors, specialities, ages, gender and geographical locations – will allow us to put girls first together.
We have huge obstacles to overcome. More than 100 million adolescent girls* are out of education, 200 million girls* and women alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation, and 650 million women* were married before their eighteenth birthday. These statistics should be the stuff of history books, but sadly are the lived realities of girls and women in 2019. Yet we know change is possible, for and with girls, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Some 25 million child marriages* were prevented in the last decade due largely to significant reductions in South Asia countries like Sri Lanka. In Rwanda more than 60% of seats in parliament* are now held by women, double the percentage mandated by the country’s new constitution of 2003. In Ireland, the Eighth Amendment to its constitution was removed last year to give women back more control over their bodies with the support of almost two thirds of the population.
An opportunity for change
But until girls get equal power, gender equality for all girls and women will not be achieved. We can turn things around by working with young people, and by building powerful partnerships with organisations committed to tackling the root causes of discrimination through, for example, our Girls' Plan.
We are calling on the global women’s rights community, gathering in Vancouver for Women Deliver 2019, to join us on this mission. Women Deliver 2019 could be the turning point for girls’ power in the world. Unlock this and we will have found the key to a better, more sustainable future for our world.
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