‘Counting the Invisible’ reveals that girls are effectively invisible to governments and policy makers because vital data about them is either incomplete or missing.
Currently no credible statistics exist worldwide that show the real life challenges of girls, such as how many drop out of school due to early marriage, pregnancy or sexual violence, or how many girls become mothers under the age of 15.
Invisible girls denied their rights
“Lack of data means governments are blind to basic rights being denied to girls. Even with scattered information we know girls face neglect, abuse and exploitation on a daily basis. The hard truth is that millions of girls are vulnerable because we have no reliable way of knowing what is happening to them,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
millions of girls are vulnerable because we have no reliable way of knowing what is happening to them
Thirteen-year-old Jenny*, an orphan from Zimbabwe, dropped out of school as she could not afford the fees. With no job opportunities, Jenny has turned to prostitution to support herself. As she is not in formal work she is not tracked by statistics, yet her invisibility increases her vulnerability to abuse, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
Seventeen-year-old Gloria* is an indigenous girl from Nicaragua who is severely disabled and pregnant from a sexual assault. She dropped out of school as her teachers mocked her but her disability is not recorded in statistics on education or sexual violence. Her vulnerability is virtually unknown to the authorities.
Global commitment to gender equality
As part of the Global Goals agreed last year, world leaders committed to delivering gender equality by 2030. ‘Counting the Invisible’ warns that unless governments make significant changes, this goal is one of many that will not be met.
Learn more about Counting the Invisible “We cannot improve what we can’t measure. Governments must start recording girls’ circumstances if we are to meet the ambitious agenda set for 2030. We must make sure every girl counts and can be counted,” said Ms Albrectsen.
The report urges governments to fill gaps in data such as pregnancy rates for under-15s or incidences of sexual harassment. Another urgent issue is to break down current data to give a more complete picture of reality on the basis of girls’ age, sex, ethnicity, wealth, location and disability.
As part of the report, 240 teenage girls between 15 and 19 were interviewed in Nicaragua and Zimbabwe. The research showed how girls face deep-rooted inequalities and violations of their rights on a daily basis.
Tracking the Global Goals
Counting the Invisible introduces a series of reports that will track the progress of the Global Goals in delivering gender equality. It highlights the vision of a coalition of organisations working to hold governments to their commitments. The partners in this coalition include Data 2X, KPMG, the International Women’s Health Coalition, One Campaign, Plan International and Women Deliver.
The aim of this partnership is to produce an independent tracker that advocates, activists, governments and civil society partners can use to measure and press for progress towards gender equality.
*Names changed to protect identities