Launching a groundbreaking digital initiative - the Girls’ Rights Platform today, Plan International said that girls are practically invisible in laws and policies worldwide leaving them vulnerable to discrimination and abuse of their rights.
“Too often girls are falling between the dominant agendas of women’s and children’s rights. There is hardly any reference to girls or recognition of their needs in international laws. This is nothing less than scandalous,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
Revealing the gaps in girls' rights
The Girls’ Rights Platform is the first of its kind human rights database created to help campaigners and policy-makers to bridge this huge gap and shine a light on girls’ rights and their plight. It brings together more than 1,400 international policy documents and allows users to run extensive searches to reveal crucial trends and gaps in gender equality for girls.
The database has been created to serve as the go-to place for researching and accessing all international policy and legislation related to girls’ rights. The Platform aims to revolutionise the way information can be used to advance gender equality worldwide, and will be regularly updated with latest legal and policy documents.
“Girls are one of the largest excluded groups in the world. They face discrimination and abuse simply for being young and female. Plan International’s years of research has shown that at all stages of their early lives up to adulthood girls face distinct disadvantages that are directly related to this double burden of discrimination,” said Ms. Albrectsen.
Need for intersectional lens
Millions of girls are disproportionately disadvantaged in education, health, work, and family life - particularly in the world’s poorest countries. These challenges become more even more severe where factors such as poverty, ethnicity or disability overlap.
When a girl can grow up safe, happy and healthy with full enjoyment of her rights, she can grow up to reach her full potential.
“We can’t resolve what we don’t know. Unless we fully understand the scale and spread of gender inequality in our policies and systems, we cannot protect the futures of millions of girls. The Girls’ Rights Platform gives this critical knowledge and power to advocates of girls’ rights to challenge this unacceptable reality and hold governments and decision-makers to account,” said Ms. Albrectsen.
“Girls deserve the full protection of their governments, and support from their families and communities. When a girl can grow up safe, happy and healthy with full enjoyment of her rights, she can grow up to reach her full potential.”
Report reveals extent girls are overlooked
A new research report by Plan International: Girls’ Rights are Human Rights – made possible by the database – reveals the extent to which international law overlooks girls’ rights, effectively rendering them invisible. It shows that age- and gender-neutral approaches are shaping international law-making, shifting attention away from girls.
“International human rights law is failing to protect girls from discrimination. Even though the concept of girls’ rights has gained ground over time, politics, biased interpretation of international law, weak language in treaties, and sheer unwillingness of States to protect girls’ rights have stalled this progress,” said Anne-Sophie Lois, Head of Plan International’s UN Office in Geneva.
“This colossal failure means girls in many parts of the world do not even hold autonomy over their bodies, let alone reach their full potential. It’s time to act to change this.”
Girls must be seen and heard
Plan International is calling on the international community to make sure girls are visible and to ensure they are heard. The organisation is advocating for a radical change in the UN and international processes, in order to bridge the gap between women’s and children’s rights where girls’ specific needs are currently ignored.
“Girls require targeted actions that take into account their lived realities. States must intentionally and explicitly address the double burden of age- and gender-based discrimination faced by girls in their laws and policies,” said Ms. Lois.
“We also need to understand that girls’ rights are not just about their vulnerabilities, but also about their great power and potential. We won’t make any difference if we don’t urgently change our approach.”