In 2017, our Plan International community had some big wins in the fight for equality for girls. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve achieved together in 2017.
1. Child Marriage Outlawed in Malawi
More than 42,000 people from people in 30 countries, including thousands in Australia, signed a petition in support of Plan International Malawi youth activists campaigning to close a loophole in the Malawian constitution that allowed child marriage to continue legally.
In February 2017, in response to our campaign, the Parliament of Malawi made an historic amendment to its constitution to outlaw child marriage once and for all.
2. More Investment in Girls’ Health in Uganda
Girls and young people in Uganda don’t have the information and services needed to protect themselves against teenage pregnancy and make informed decisions about their bodies and their future. In Uganda today, 1 in 4 teenage girls are either pregnant or already mothers.
In March 2017 Plan International Uganda Youth Advocates met with members of the Ugandan Parliament to call for more investment in sexual health services and information. But they weren't alone – almost 39,000 people from 49 countries, including Australia, who signed our petition were standing there with them.
Many members of Parliament were supportive of our campaign. They even signed our petition to commit to passing a national budget which invests more in girls’ sexual health.
3. Making Melbourne Safer
In late March, we held a workshop in partnership with Monash University and the City of Melbourne to design ways of making Melbourne a safer and more welcoming city for girls. We used the insights generated by supporters on last year’s Free to Be interactive map to guide discussions between young women and the people who make decisions about the city, including the City of Melbourne, Victoria Police, Metro, the Department of Justice, and Public Transport Victoria.
Work to implement the outcomes from the workshop have continued throughout 2017. We will be expanding the Free to Be campaign to Sydney in 2018.
4. More Funding for Family Planning in the Pacific
In July, hundreds of supporters emailed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop asking her to increase Australia’s funding for much needed family planning services through the Australian Aid budget. In response she announced an increase of $33 million over the next four years to go to the UN’s family planning work in the Pacific at the London Family Planning Summit.
At the Summit, government, NGOs and philanthropists announced more than $2.5 billion in commitments to improving family planning services around the world.
5. Making Child Marriage Illegal in Tanzania
In November, thousands of Australians joined Plan International supporters around the world to stand with Plan International youth advocates in Tanzania, asking their government to lift the age of marriage for girls to 18 (as it is for boys).
When our youth advocates in Tanzania hand over the 49,125 petition signatures to the responsible minister early next year, it will show the government that the world is watching.
6. Banning Sexist Advertising
In December, hundreds of Australians wrote to our government asking them to make good on promises to address sexist advertising. We haven’t heard back from them yet, but just think – this could be the first win of 2018!
Thanks for standing with girls in 2017 and congratulations! Together, we were too loud to ignore!
Want some more good news from 2017? Our teammate Sophie has identified 10 global wins for equality that will brighten your day!