To mark International Women’s Day and shine a light on gaps for girls in the fight to advance gender equality, Plan International releases today The 2020 Asia Girls Report and Girls’ Leadership Index. The Index is the first of its kind, to consolidate regional data highlighting important investment areas for girls across South and Southeast Asia.
The Index analyses 19 South and Southeast Asian countries’ achievements in girls’ education, economic opportunity, protection, health, political voice, and legal standing.
The overall rankings put Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam in the top three positions regionally.
‘Now is the right moment in history for Asia to invest in girls’ development and leadership,’ said Bhagyashri Dengle, Regional Director of Plan International Asia-Pacific ‘Asian economies continue to out-perform the rest of the world, and our governments, businesses and social change sectors are poised to do more with domestic resources than ever before. It is time to show what we will do with and for girls in Asia.’
We need to recognise that girls are the resources of the country, not the burden.
Studies show that investment in gender equality can yield tremendous results for all, especially if those investments are targeted at adolescent girls. Yet more and better data-driven action by Asian governments is urgently needed.
Deeper Index data analysis shows even countries that performed well overall have considerable work to do in specific areas. Singapore, although in first place generally, ranks behind most of ASEAN when it comes to laws and policies that guarantee rights. Comparatively high rates of young women entering the workforce in many countries are not resulting in equally high rates of women in leadership positions. In still others, improved economic opportunities for all are being held back by poor health outcomes for girls.
When asked about the situation of girls in her country, 17-year-old Huu from Vietnam said, “We need to recognise that girls are the resources of the country, not the burden. Adults need to change their mindsets that we cannot do anything big. Girls should not have to quit school to support parents and take care of younger siblings, and women should not have to do all the housework. There is no other option than the economic empowerment of the girls.”
“With only ten years before time runs out on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, Plan International is calling on all countries in Asia to invest in girls now. That is why we are sharing a ground-breaking tool that highlights the specific needs of girls across the region. We invite national governments and multi-lateral bodies, such as ASEAN and SAARC, to use this tool to take action” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
‘There is still no country in the world where girls and women are equal to boys and men. Asian countries are no exception,’ said Dengle, ‘but we have the resources and expertise to do better, we just need to make it a priority.’
The 2020 Asia Girls’ Report urges all countries in the region to develop and adopt adolescent girl development frameworks modeled on the ground-breaking work of Lao PDR.