International Day of the Girl

October 11th, 2020

Every year on October 11th, the world is called to recognise the unique challenges that girls face globally and their enormous potential to bring about change.

 

As the charity for girls’ equality, Plan International played a significant role in the United Nations introduction of International Day of the Girl – the day was born from our campaign to see girls on the global agenda.

Girls should be #FreeToBeOnline

This year for International Day of the Girl, we along with girls around the world, are calling on social media companies to improve their ways of reporting abuse and harassment in a way that actually works for girls.

Every day, everywhere, girls are physically threatened, racially abused, sexually harassed, and body shamed online. With COVID-19 driving lockdowns around the globe, girls are spending more time online. This has increased their risk of online abuse and harassment.

Join girls. Join us. Sign our open letter so every girl can be #FreeToBeOnline.

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Free To Be Online

Plan International’s report, Free To Be Online, spoke to 14,000 girls across 32 countries around the world about their experiences online. This is the largest ever survey of its type. We learnt that more than half have been harassed and abused on social media.

The social media platforms designed to connect us as a global community, are drastically failing girls and young women. Inadequate reporting mechanisms are allowing harmful abuse slip through the cracks.

Girls in all of their diversity, need to know that when they’re abused and threatened online, they can report it. That they’ll be listened to. That action will be taken, and that perpetrators will be held accountable.

International Day of the Girl

The Research

For this report we spoke to 14,000 girls across 32 countries around the world about their experiences online. This is the largest ever survey of its type. We learnt that more than half have been harassed and abused on social media.

In all 22 countries, girls had been exposed to explicit messages, pornographic photos, cyberstalking and other distressing forms of abuse.

Most commonly girls were targeted with abusive and insulting language, reported by more than half (59%) of girls, followed by deliberate embarrassment (41%), body shaming and threats of sexual violence (both 39%).

The social media platforms designed to connect us as a global community, are drastically failing girls and young women. Inadequate reporting mechanisms are allowing harmful abuse slip through the cracks.
Girls in all of their diversity, need to know that when they’re abused and threatened online, they can report it. That they’ll be listened to. That action will be taken, and that perpetrators will be held accountable.

Why Girls?

Right now, there is a silent crisis happening to girls around the globe.

Nowhere in the world are girls free from violence and harassment. No town, city, or country. Including nowhere online.

Online violence is serious. It silences girls’ voices – and it causes real and lasting harm. It robs girls of their self-esteem and causes mental and emotional stress. Nearly a quarter of girls we surveyed reported it can leave them feeling physically unsafe, with others having problems at school, with friends or family and in finding or keeping a job.

Girls are opting out of expressing themselves and their opinions for fear of retribution, and sometimes removing themselves from these platforms altogether. Once again, as we’ve seen with street harassment, perpetrators are using their perceived power to silence girls and to force them out of spaces where they have just as much right to be as anyone else.

As the charity for girls’ equality, Plan International Australia is declaring that enough is enough.

Will you stand with us, and with girls around the world?

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