The resulting report, A Better Normal: Girls Call for a Revolutionary Reset, has launched today and will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Worldwide, the COVID-19 crisis has seen a stripping back of girls’ rights as millions face child marriage, an end to their education and as lockdowns continue, a sharp increase in violence and teen pregnancy.
Profound and lasting change
Despite the vast humanitarian challenge the pandemic has brought, girls remain optimistic to use the ‘global pause’ as a moment to create real, lasting and profound change on a number of fronts.
As the world rebuilds in the wake of this crisis, do we want to simply return to ‘normal’ or can we create something better, together?
The entirely girl-led research was led by 22 young women aged between 15 to 25 in Australia and Vietnam, with support from the charity for girls’ equality Plan International Australia.
Plan International CEO, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, said girls are well-placed to lead significant change on behalf of their generation and generations to come.
“There is no doubt COVID-19 has exposed, revealed, deepened and created significant cracks in our systems, institutions and leadership. As the world rebuilds in the wake of this crisis, do we want to simply return to ‘normal’ or can we create something better, together?
“Our world before this pandemic was one that repeatedly and undeniably failed girls and young women. To create a better normal, we have to listen to the experiences and ideas of girls and young women, instead of ignoring them.
“Girls are powerful agents for change, there is no denying this, and when they have a voice and people start to listen, amazing things happen.
“This report is a really clever roadmap with practical solutions on how we build that new world hand in hand with young people.
“Around the world, governments and authorities are considering how to build back better, the calls from girls and young women couldn’t be clearer: they demand to be heard and included in decision-making processes, have power over the issues that affect their lives and play an active role in creating a more just and sustainable world.”
Six visions for a better world
Girls and young women have created six visions for a better post-COVID world and focus tested these with their peers in 99 countries. The visions were tested with 365 girls and young women aged 10-25.
- 98% want Gender Justice
- 98% want Climate Justice
- 96% want Protection of Rights and Access to Resources
- 95% want Freedom to be Human
- 94% want Inclusion and Equality in Power
- 94% want Educated Citizens of the World
Some of the many recommendations to achieve these goals, include:
- Providing fee free education for all and invest at least 20% of national budgets in public education
- Closing the digital divide by ensuring free universal access to the internet so everyone can access online learning resources when needed, with a particular focus on closing the digital gender divide that sees fewer girls able to access information online.
- Making tertiary education more accessible for all, for instance by reducing fees, and providing support and services during study.
- Decision-makers should institutionalise participatory processes for girls and young women, in all our diversities, at different levels (local, regional and national), so that their experiences are accurately represented and solutions designed for us are co-designed.
- Encouraging boys and men to share the burden of family care and household work, which too often falls onto girls’ shoulders
- Ensure the minimum wage is a liveable wage, and all workers - including migrant workers - in all careers are respected and supported.
- Co-design and implement supportive laws and policies to enable girls and women to leverage digital technology to include their voices in public decision making, as well as enabling their direct participation in processes.
Then, stand in solidarity with young campaigners and their call for a 'better normal' by heading to the Plan International Australia site and signing an open letter to the United Nations General Assembly outlining their demands: