We’re wishing the Global Goals a happy first birthday! On this day last year, Australia was one of 193 countries that signed up to an ambitious set of goals and targets, known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Global Goals sit across the whole of the human experience – from ending hunger and poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring inclusive and equitable education for all.
The Global Goals have the potential to transform the lives of millions of girls across the world and ensure girls’ rights are realised. Here are five ways the Global Goals can help girls learn, lead, thrive and decide:
Goal 2 seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition. This is particularly important for girls because it can have an impact on their whole life cycle – it means that girls are more likely to attend school and receive better academic results. We also know that for adolescent girls who are menstruating, they’re less likely to be underweight and anaemic and therefore less likely to suffer fatigue and poor concentration.
Goal 4 seeks to ensure that all children have access to quality education that is inclusive and promotes lifelong learning. This requires governments to work with educational institutions and communities to break down the barriers that stop girls from going to school. We know that for every year of education a girl completes, her future income increases by more than 10 percent. We also know that women’s incomes are more likely to be invested in the wellbeing of future generations.
Goal 5.3 seeks to end child marriage and female genital mutilation. If the number of child marriages continues as the current rate, more than 140 million girls will be married by 2020. We know that when girls are not subject to child marriage, they’re less likely to be forced out of education, less likely to experience violent and abusive relationships and early pregnancies.
Goal 5.6 seeks to ensure girls and women have universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights. For adolescent girls, access to sexual and reproductive health services is often restricted due to harmful social norms, gender stereotypes and perceptions of girls’ and women’s sexuality. When women and girls can exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights, it significantly reduces their risk of sexually transmitted diseases such a HIV, unwanted pregnancies and sexual assault.
Goal 11 seeks to make cities inclusive and safe. Research conducted by Plan International reveals that girls seldom feel safe in cities and that they are often excluded from decision-making processes that impact their safety. When girls feel safe in their cities and on public transport, it enables girls to be independent, to access education, health and other important services.
The Global Goals presents the perfect opportunity for governments, business and civil society to work together to ensure girls rights are realised. However we cannot afford to lose any time – the world only has fourteen more years to make this a reality under the 2030 Agenda. It means that governments, business and civil society must speed up action to deliver on their commitments.