Free to Be Online?

A report on girls' and young women's experiences of online harassment

Free To Be Online? brings together the voices and experiences of over 14,000 girls across many continents. It aims at uncovering and understanding their experiences being online: what platforms they use, what is their experience of harassment, who are the perpetrators, the impact of harassment on them.

Freedom online?

“The theme of this year’s State of the World’s Girls Report is freedom online – but it reveals the opposite. Rather than free and empowered to express themselves online, girls are all too often harassed, abused and driven from online spaces,” says Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International. 

Girls are targeted online just because they are young and female, and if they are politically outspoken, disabled, Black or identify as LGBTIQ+, it gets worse. Like street harassment it is unremitting, often psychologically damaging and can lead to actual physical harm.

What needs to be done?

Governments and society as a whole need to monitor this abuse rigorously and social media companies must use their technological skills and financial resources to put freedom online for girls and young women at the heart of their agenda.

  • Create effective and accessible reporting mechanisms that target gender-based violence
  • Hold perpetrators to account
  • Collect disaggregated data that acknowledges girls’ intersecting identities and tracks the scale and size of the problem
  • Take this issue seriously

Please note – the full report is being updated and will be published soon, however you can download the executive summary below:

Download options (click here)

Executive Summary – English


403.58 kb

Executive Summary – French


385.54 kb

Executive Summary – Spanish


419.41 kb

Girls Get Equal, Protection from violence, Girls Get Equal, Girls' education